Summary: This sermon addresses those times when we feel as though God might have forgotten about us and our desire for freedom.
JESUS CAME TO SET US FREE
Text: Luke 4:14-21
The scripture that Jesus read in the synagogue was a message of hope that Jesus told them was going to be fulfilled in their hearing. It just so happens that when Jesus read this scripture, it was during the time of JUBILEE. Jubilee goes all the way back to the Old Testament (Leviticus 25:10). Jubilee was associated with both freedom and celebration because it was a time (on a fifty year cycle) when slaves were set free, debts were cancelled, and land was returned to the disenfranchised. So when Jesus read this passage of scripture from Isaiah, He was reading a text that spoke to both the season and the needs of those that Jesus came to save.
Jesus was talking about things like physical, social and religious handicaps and oppressors. Jesus was addressing an atmosphere that included all three. Jesus was addressing people in need in His own hometown where He began both His mission and ministry. Jesus was telling people that their dreams of freedom would soon be realized through Him.
JESUS IS OUR HOPE FOR FREEDOM.
Isaiah 61:1-2 was written 700 years prior to the moment when Christ read it in the synagogue. Up till that time it was only a message of hope. People dreamed about the day that hope would be realized. All this time they had felt that the glass of their hopes and dreams for freedom were half empty. Jesus came to tell them that the glass of their hopes and dreams was half full and not half empty.
How many times have we ourselves looked at the way things are and thought to ourselves that the glass was half empty rather than half full? We hinder God’s Spirit when we think that the glass is half empty. Second Corinthians 3:17 says, “… where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (NIV). Jesus told them and He tells us that “the Spirit of the Lord is on me… ” (Luke 4:18, Isaiah 61:1). There were those in the crowd who seemed to think of the glass as half empty when they said, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son? (Luke 4:22 NIV). “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Where then did this man get all these things?” (Matthew 13:54-56NIV). The purpose of Jesus’ coming empowered by God’s Spirit was to allow others the opportunity to experience freedom that comes from being empowered by God’s Spirit.
Jesus was more than a carpenter and a carpenter’s son. Jesus is both the agent and the agency through who God’s freedom comes. There are times when we may feel as though God has forgotten about us. All of us can think of times in our lives when our faith has been tested as we tried not to lose heart. To lose heart is to lose hope. To lose hope is to quit dreaming. To quit dreaming is to give up.
I once read about a lady, who was placed in a institution in 1929 because of a nervous breakdown. She had left her native country and came to America with hopes and dreams. Unfortunately, nobody could speak her language. She was there until 1977--- for forty-eight years. Still, in all that time, nobody was able to understand her. It appears that they had given up on her. It would appear that she had lost all hope of her original dream. To those in the institution she was a hopeless case. To them, she just simply existed in her own little world. Then one day, there was breakthrough. In 1972, a multi lingual case worker by the name of John Kurz began to talk with her. Kurz was a case worker from the Bureau of the Aging. Not only did he understand her language, but he also found out her name Mary Peischl. Kurz also found out that she had left what was the former Austro-Hungarian Empire when Franz Joseph I, was in power. Kurz even helped her to get reunited with her five children. Jesus had come through this case worker to set her free from her prison of hopelessness. (Paraphrased from Tarbell’e Teacher’s Guide. 86th Annual Volume. (Edited by Dr, William P. Barker). Elgin: David C. Cook Publishing Co., 1990, p. 248). Imagine for just a minute that you were this woman. Imagine that people had written you off as hopeless. Then, imagine that one day there was a breakthrough for you just as there was for this woman.
There might be times in our lives when we have given up on our dreams, our hopes. Certainly, that has been the case at times. Jesus never quits on us. Jesus is always there wanting and waiting to set us free. This woman was broken-hearted and it seemed hopeless until Jesus’ work of liberation was realized through this case worker through whom Jesus worked. Although our circumstances might not be the same, there are always those times in our lives we look for the day or days that Jesus can lighten our burdens and liberate our spirits. Second Corinthians 3:17 says, “… where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (NIV).