Summary: Luke focuses his Gospel on the theme of reversal in which Jesus is said to have turned the values of status upside down. In Jesus’ upside down world, the poor are lifted up, the oppressed are set free and Jesus, God’s son forgives sins.
A New Day!!
INTRO: It’s a new day. Not just any new day, it is the first day for a new year.
Only a week ago we had Christmas.
And today we will look at the relevance of this baby Jesus who as a man so radically changed the world.
The reading today demonstrates this and is found in Luke 4:16-20a.
1. A New Day
Jesus went to his hometown. As was the custom in those days, a visiting Rabbi was often asked to speak. This day was particularly special, for Jesus was homegrown. He is given a scroll which Luke tells us contains the writings of the Prophet Isaiah. Jesus reads the scroll and every eye was fixed on him, waiting to hear words of wisdom.
Imagine sitting in the crowd listening to Jesus read from the scroll. What would you think he was talking about? It is not so apparent to us, but all in his audience that day would have known exactly what Jesus was talking about. We find it in v. 19, “the time of the Lord’s favor has come.” This is a reference to a practice observed in Judaic custom. It is called, “the Year of the Lord’s Favor,” or “The Festival of Jubilee.” It is taken from the Law of God given to Moses.
Jubilee is marked by three provisions.
1. The freeing of slaves
2. The cancellation of debts
3. The fallowing of the land
Bono from U2 – Has been one of the faces advocating the cancellation of third world countries’ debts in a project called Jubilee 2000. His idea is generated from the concept of jubilee.
Luke focuses his Gospel on the theme of reversal in which Jesus is said to have turned the values of status upside down. In Jesus’ upside down world, the poor are lifted up, the oppressed are set free and Jesus, God’s son forgives sins. Jesus announced a new kingdom was coming in which God’s role in the world would be evident in the person of Jesus Christ. This was new, it was fresh.
2. What does the year of Jubilee mean to us
-How God blesses us everyday
Jesus’ message of hope and peace for all who believe in him is as significant today as it was 2000 years ago. In that message of hope and peace we find the real purpose of Jesus’ ministry, “FREEDOM.”
Imagine for a moment if God came to you today and said, “This year is a year of Jubilee. Lucky for you, it only comes up once every 50 years. And this year is it. All your debts are wiped away; your mortgage paid in full, car payments, insurance, utilities, credit cards, student loans all paid, in full. Imagine what that would be like? In the person of Jesus, that is exactly what is offered to us.
You know, if we are not in the light of Jesus, we are in spiritual darkness. It is only the grace of God that can set us free. Let me tell you what that is like.
Illustration: Bill rescuing me at the Castle Dairy.
That is exactly what Jesus has down. He has rescued us, by setting us free from darkness. The question now remaining is what will we do with that freedom?
3. How can we make this a year of Jubilee for others
Imagine again for a moment that all our debt was to be cancelled. Imagine all the resources which are now free to our disposal. What might we be able to achieve. Once we have experienced the freedom that is graciously given to us by, he wants us to extend that freedom to others. As Christians we are now the hands and feet of God.
On 11 February 1990, Nelson Mandela was released from prison after more than 30 years in prison for his opposition to the apartheid regime in South Africa, in which the white minority had all the power. Released, Mandela plunged wholeheartedly into his life’s work, striving to attain the goals he and others had set out almost four decades earlier. His life stands as an inspiration, in South Africa and throughout the world, to all who are oppressed and deprived, to all who are opposed to oppression and deprivation. In experiencing freedom, Nelson Mandela set out to see that all South Africa, white and black could experience liberating freedom.
What of us, what will we do this year of Jubilee to see others experience freedom?
We might not be Nelson Mandela, but God has given each one of us gifts and graces to share with others. Perhaps once in a while we will give some time to help a person or family who is less fortunate than us. Perhaps we could volunteer to get groceries for someone who is immobile and can’t get around so easily. Perhaps we will just spend time with someone who is lonely and needs someone to talk to. There are so many opportunities if only we are willing to be used by God and make ourselves available to the needs of others. Then we too can pass on the freedom we experience in our relationship with God.