logo

sign-up-for-free-cybersalt-today-button
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to hear the fist sermon Jesus preached?
We heard part of it when Isaiah 61 was read this morning. In Luke's gospel, shortly after His baptism, Jesus goes to the synagogue in his hometown of Nazareth, reads from Isaiah 61 and then is seated. Luke says everyone was waiting to see what he might say concerning the text. Their eyes are all fixed on him, waiting. He does not disappoint them and His commentary on it was to say, "This scripture is being fulfill today." He could have added, "before your eyes, even as we speak." Apparently He didn't need to as the people understood the implication and began muttering to themselves to the effect of "who does he think he is?"
Not only did Jesus? words not go over well, but the congregation tried to throw him off a cliff immediately after the sermon.
I prefer our custom of having coffee and cake.

What Jesus is saying is "this is why I have come...to bind the brokenhearted, proclaim freedom and release for those in slavery."
You would think a message like that would be wildly popular. Who wouldn't want to hear a message of freedom?
It all depends on which side of the bars you are standing, I suppose.

Jesus said to a man who was . . .

"The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness
for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor" - Isaiah 61:1-2



Have you ever wondered what it would be like to hear the fist sermon Jesus preached?
We heard part of it when Isaiah 61 was read this morning. In Luke's gospel, shortly after His baptism, Jesus goes to the synagogue in his hometown of Nazareth, reads from Isaiah 61 and then is seated. Luke says everyone was waiting to see what he might say concerning the text. Their eyes are all fixed on him, waiting. He does not disappoint them and His commentary on it was to say, "This scripture is being fulfill today." He could have added, "before your eyes, even as we speak."  Apparently He didn't need to as the people understood the implication and began muttering to themselves to the effect of "who does he think he is?"
Not only did Jesus' words not go over well, but the congregation tried to throw him off a cliff immediately after the sermon.
I prefer our custom of having coffee and cake.

What Jesus is saying is "this is why I have come...to bind the brokenhearted, proclaim freedom and release for those in slavery."
You would think a message like that would be wildly popular. Who wouldn't want to hear a message of freedom?
It all depends on which side of the bars you are standing, I suppose.

Jesus said to a man who was paralyzed, "walk, your sins are forgiven."
Simple enough and the man walked. Great!...or so you would think.
Not everyone was ecstatic. In fact quite a few were upset because that meant he had authority to forgive and His credentials were still under review by the higher-ups of this world.

On another occasion right in the synagogue on a Sabbath, He healed a man and that was really frowned upon.
Sure, it was good for the man, but it was a Sabbath and Jesus was not respecting the law by healing.
And if that wasn't enough, he made friends with common sinners. He even would go and eat with them in their homes!

So you see, this business of giving people their sight, their freedom, even their lives was not as simple as that.
But it was His purpose and so He set about doing it regardless of what the people in the theological colleges thought about his theology, or what the denominational committees thought about his credentials.
He still does.
A preacher named David Hansen wrote this in 2003:

When I was eight years old, doctors diagnosed my youngest sister with a life threatening neuromuscular disease. Not long after this my father began weeping in church every Sunday. He didn't cry out. He didn't buckle in two with his face in his hands. His tear glands flowed and his voice cracked when we sang hymns. I never asked him why he was crying, and I didn't know what he was thinking. I still don't. But something important happened inside him during worship.

This went on for several years and tapered off. My sister is now a wife, mother, and special education teacher.

In 1989 my wife Debbie got Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. In three weeks her life changed from being a graduate student and an adjunct professor to plowed in bed with a low-grade fever, severe short-term memory loss, and barely enough energy to take a shower. Still, somehow, most Sundays she made it to church.

During worship she sat and wept, the same way my father had some 30 years before. I figured the same thing was happening inside her that was happening inside my father. The Spirit was praying from within.

Unutterable changes were occurring.

Debbie is well now and is a school psychologist.1

Do you suppose David Hansen and his family understand what Jesus was talking about that day in Nazareth?

Christmas and Advent are times of celebration and joy, which is good. It should be that way when you think about the meaning of Advent--God coming into the world to show us the real nature of who God really is.
And then coming to set us free from our prisons of guilt and loneliness and purposeless lives.

That should be an occasion for major celebration.
No one has to go through life feeling worthless or abandoned or with no purpose.
God has opened a doorway to anyone who wants to make contact.
You don't need an astronomical radio dish or a telescope or a space lab to find intelligent life beyond our world.
A Bible helps, but you don't really even need that to start with.
Just take some time and clear away your distractions and begin talking to the author of the words that Isaiah wrote and that Jesus quoted. If you mean it from the core of your being, the door will be opened.

Another preacher, Ray Bakke from Chicago, writes this great story:

I knew an old Glasgow professor named MacDonald who, along with a Scottish chaplain, had bailed out of an airplane behind German lines. They were put in a prison camp. A high wire fence separated the Americans from the British, and the Germans made it next to impossible for the two sides to communicate. MacDonald was put in the American barracks and the chaplain was housed with the Brits.

Every day the two men would meet at the fence and exchange a greeting. Unknown to the guards, the Americans had a little homemade radio and were able to get news from the outside, something more precious than food in a prison camp. Every day, MacDonald would take a headline or two to the fence and share it with the chaplain in the ancient Gaelic language, indecipherable to the Germans.

One day, news came over the little radio that the German High Command had surrendered and the war was over. MacDonald took the news to his friend, then stood and watched him disappear into the British barracks. A moment later, a roar of celebration came from the barracks.

Life in that camp was transformed. Men walked around singing and shouting, waving at the guards, even laughing at the dogs. When the German guards finally heard the news three nights later, they fled into the dark, leaving the gates unlocked. The next morning, Brits and Americans walked out as free men. Yet they had truly been set free three days earlier by the news that the war was over.2

 Jesus could not be silenced though He paid an enormous price.
Advent remembers that God promised to send Messiah. He kept His word. We are free to be what God calls us to be.
Let's celebrate with joy.

Preached  December 11, 2005
Dr. Harold McNabb
West Shore Presbyterian Church
Victoria, British Columbia

Notes
1. David Hansen, "Holy Multi-tasking," Leadership (Spring 2003), p. 106
2.Ray Bakke, Chicago Illinois. Leadership, Vol. 19, no2
Powered By JFBConnect