Summary: This is an Easter Message on the hope that Jesus Christ brings into our lives.
Hope Has Come
What road has brought us here to church today? No matter where we started from, all of us eventually chose either St. Clair, Helena, East 105th, or Elgin to come to this building, but that’s not the kind of road I’m talking about. There is something in our lives that led us to be in church this morning. It may have been habit, or an invitation, or Easter, or a desire to simply here from God. It’s neither an accident or coincidence that we’re all together in this place. It has never happened before and it will never happen again. Someone here today, we’ll be on the other side of eternity come the next Easter.
Let’s go back to the first century and meet a man called Jesus of Nazereth. Actually he was more than just a man, because He was sent by God to make a difference in the life that each person ever born would live and to determine where each person who dies will spend eternity. Jesus told us what he planned to do with his life during his final years.
One day at the very beginning of his ministry Jesus walked into a place very similar to a church. He walked over to the pulpit and said, Luke 4:18-19 "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, 19to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor."
Well this was not the first time this passage had been read, so everyone was eager to see how Jesus was going to preach from the text. But instead of preaching, he sat back down. Now if I did that, you might start clapping, but I’m not Jesus so I will go on with the sermon.
Jesus could feel the eyes on him in the room, as people were thinking, “okay man, you’ve announced the text, now go ahead and preach it. Don’t be shy. Go ahead and finish what you started.” To end the awkwardness of the moment, Jesus said, “today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Now for hundreds of years, the people had been waiting for someone who would come into their lives and bring them hope. They were looking for someone who would be sent from God with power and authority to change their lives. When Jesus said, “today this scripture has been fulfilled, Jesus was saying, “I’m the one you’ve been looking for all these years. I’m the one sent by God to make a difference in your lives. The one you have been hoping for has come.”
If someone were to ask you, “what is Easter all about?”, what would you tell them. “Well it’s a time to dress nice, a time to have additional special services, a time to give Easter egg hunts and it’s a time to think about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.” Well you’re right, Easter does involve all of these `things in today’s world. But one of the things that stand out most about Easter is that if offers Hope. Is there anybody here who needs a little hope for their lives.
When we look at what Jesus said about why He came, we can find Hope. Jesus said the Spirit of the Lord is on me because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. What does that mean? Today some of us think we’re poor, but we are no where near as poor as we use to be.
When I was born, we use to live near the butcher pen where they slaughtered animals. It was always stinking and smelling from the rotting remains of the animals slaughtered. But I found out from my aunt, that my grandmother, who had 13 kids, would go and sometimes get out meat from the trash bins at the butcher pen in order to put some food on our table. For us to have lived on welfare and food stamps would have been moving up to the middle class.
What good news did Jesus have the poor. Well first of all, Jesus lets us know that God had not forgotten the poor. God identifies with the poor. In Proverbs, God says, whoever gives to the poor, lends to the Lord. God has equipped the poor to strive for something better and offers a hope for something greater than they have today. I know where my family was, and I know where we are today. You can’t tell me that God is not good. Some of us were poor because of racism and institutional structures like segregation, red lining, and discrimination with last hired and first fired. God has removed many of those barriers for us today.