My social media feed is full of sponsored posts for webinars, podcasts, online course, how-to books and private groups I can join to expand my ministry/blog/life…to get more likes & email lists, become a better marketer, stand out, create a brand…all of the things secular culture glorifies. I know there is value in learning how to reach more people more effectively. I get that. I have an MBA and worked in advertising and marketing…I really do get it. But at the same time, it leaves me with kind of a yuck feeling. Like God’s Word isn’t good enough. Like the whispers of God how to be His hands and feet aren’t enough. Like we have to do it the same way everyone else is doing it. Like we have to water it down, promote it, and make it all about you/me for it to resonate. It feels like another way we are morphing into the culture, rather than transforming hearts. It feels like its own version of the merchants and money changers on the temple property. Maybe I’m in far too cynical of a mood today. Perhaps I’m feeling a bit weary of it all. Anyone else?
Over 2,000 years ago Jesus walked into a synagogue on the Sabbath. Something He regularly does. This particular synagogue is special. It’s in His hometown. It’s one He has been to countless times, listening to the religious leaders and traveling teachers preach from the Scriptures. He has returned from some time away. This time, He is the traveling teacher. The crowds settle in after singing a few hymns, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah is handed to Him. He takes it is His calloused hands from years of carpentry work. He slowly and carefully unrolls the scrolls. He knows exactly where He is going – Isaiah 61 – and He begins to read….
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.”
There is nothing unusual at this point for the gathering families. He rolls the scroll back up and hands it to the attendant. As He sits down a hush comes over the room, all eyes fixed on him. “How will He explain this?” they wait to hear.
A nine-word sermon: “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Whoa...they weren't expecting that!
Jesus declares Himself the Messiah; the long-awaited Anointed One; the Christ. He gives a peek into His earthly ministry, a taste of what the Messiah will ultimately accomplish, reversing and renewing the damage brought about by sin.
Sin impoverishes. Jesus came to bring good news to the poor. To share and to be the Gospel, an invitation to a glorious inheritance.
Sin breaks hearts. Jesus came to heal the broken-hearted. To right wrongs. To heal the deep-down hurts caused by sin.
Sin enslaves us…to evil desires, to coveting, to comparing, to envying, to striving, to self-glorification. Jesus came to give liberty to the captives. To set us free from all that sends us spiraling down a path of exhaustion, depression, hopelessness, frustration, loneliness, bitterness, joylessness.
Sin blinds us. We can’t see the truth. We fall for false prophets and promises. Jesus came to give us recovery of sight. To help us set our eyes and focus above, not behind, inside, in front of, or side to side.
Sin oppresses us. Suffocates us, bullies us, harms us, confines us. Jesus came to set at liberty the oppressed. To set us free.
Sin leaves us in a place that doesn’t quite feel like home. We’re not where we were created to be, and we long for things to be made right. Jesus came to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. In Leviticus 25, a year of jubilee was commanded. The fiftieth year was to be a time of celebration and rejoicing for the Israelites. It was to be a year of universal redemption. A year of release from indebtedness and all types of bondage. A year where all prisoners and captives were set free, all slaves were released, all debts were forgiven, and all property was returned to its original owners. All labor was to cease for one year, and those bound by labor contracts were released from them. Both the land and the people were to rest*. A reset. What a year that would be for those who were poor, broken-hearted, enslaved, and oppressed.
Jesus came to physically heal these things during His three-year ministry…a foreshadowing and sneak peek at the ultimate spiritual healing and freedom brought about by His death, resurrection, and promise to return to make all things new again.
Sin is looming with devastating effects. I think sometimes we need a reset. I love this verse in Deuteronomy 2:3, “You have circled this mountain long enough; now turn north.” Maybe we have circled the cultural mountain long enough…time to turn our eyes, heads, hearts, entire posture NORTH. My daughter and I call it revivormation (revival + reformation). We have the scrolls – God’s Word – to open, read, and teach. I think we have to be cautious about distractions that lure us back into the devil’s temptations…the things he used to tempt Jesus right before the Spirit led Jesus to His home synagogue in Nazareth to read from Isaiah. Namely, lure to prove who we are, our worthiness, who God says we are and the lure of worldly things, power, and accolades. Jesus’ sole defense against these things was the Word of God.
God, let me rely and depend on You alone. Let me desire the things that bring You glory over the things that bring me or worldly things glory instead. You alone are enough. Your Word is enough. #revivormation
All 1 1 Corinthians 1 Peter 1 Thessalonians 1 Timothy 2 & 3 John 2 Corinthians 2 Peter 2 Thessalonians 2 Timothy Acts Colossians Ephesians Galatians Hebrews Info James John Jude Luke Mark Matthew Philemon Philippians Revelation Romans TItus