Summary: Jesus fulfills the Year of Jubilee imagery.
Live a Jubilant Life
David Vanlandingham, February 14, 2010
A. The Problem of burdensome debt
1. Our nation in particular and much of the global community in general are in the midst of dealing with the effects of crippling debt, both corporate and government. For example, Investment Banks were loaning out up to a 40 to 1 ratio of their reserves (the equivalent of you having to put up only $10,000.00 to buy a $400,000.00 property. With only a 2 ½% drop in value, your $10,000.00 equity would evaporate!). It appears that we have narrowly averted a crushing financial disaster that could well have thrown our nation into a severe depression rivaling, if not surpassing, the Great Depression of some 75 years ago.
2. On a smaller scale, the same catastrophic effects can and do happen to individuals. Too often, our desire for immediate gratification leads us to an over-use of available credit. Then, when a job loss or sickness or something unexpected happens, suddenly, we find ourselves in a financial crisis (One young family that I counseled a few years ago had racked up over $50,000.00 of credit card debt alone, not including their mortgage and car payments!).
B. The Power of a fresh start
1. Our nation’s bankruptcy laws are designed to protect debtors who become unable to meet their obligations. This does not mean those who must use this protection do not suffer severe consequences. The record of bankruptcy stays on your credit report for years making it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to obtain traditional credit resources. Unfortunately, sometimes this avenue of protection is abused by unethical types who manipulate the system to actually defraud those who extend credit to them
2. However, what do you think would happen if we put out the word that on April 1, 2010, all of the debts of every member of the League St. Church of Christ would be paid off by an anonymous benefactor (maybe a Bill Gates, etc)?
a. Would that excite you just a little bit? Would that bring joy to your life? Would you rush out and run up all of the debt that you possibly could? Do you think there would be a line of people all of the way from here to Dallas who would be trying to become members of this church?
b. Sketch various scenarios of debt: 2010 3500 Series Silverado, 4 X 4, dually, $45,000; new 36’ 5th Wheel RV, $70,000; two Harley Road King touring bikes, $35,000; $499,000 mortgage; $250,000 lakeside vacation cottage; loan against 401K, $50,000; 10 Louis Vuitton purses with matching accessories, $50,000; etc.
C. Historical Background and Context of Luke 4:16-21 (Read)
1. Our text is rooted in this very kind of God-given and ordained social practice. Jesus read from the Isaiah 61:1-3 which has its roots in Leviticus where details are spelled out regarding three different, yet connected, Sabbaths that the Lord God decreed that His people were to observe – Sabbath= “ to cease, desist”
2. The three Sabbaths: (1) the Sabbath day; (2) the Sabbath year; (2) the Year of Jubilee – Summarize each – (1) Sabbath day = rest for man, a day of solemn assembly; (2) Sabbath year = rest for the land; (2) Jubilee Year, Lev. 25 (ram’s horn, or trumpet) = the “mother of all Sabbaths” = Release from debts and from servitude; Restoration of ancestral land inheritance; Rest from labor for both mankind and the land, a two year, back to back, rest for all concerned. The 50th year was one, big, year-long party. It was the great equalizer. It was designed to change their “dog-eat-dog” world-view into a 50 year game with a reset button. It was God’s “reset button” that gave the poor a second chance.
3. It was an economics stimulus package, a bail-out plan, unlike anything the world has ever seen. It was not Communism where everything is State controlled. No, your right to own land and make a profit were guaranteed. But, it was not unrestrained Capitalism either. You could not buy up all of your neighbor’s land and keep it forever. You could not bankrupt your competitors permanently. And, you also were required to look out for the poor and not allow them to be taken advantage of. No matter how bad things got, every 50 years, things were balanced out again. There was hope. There was a way out. The poor had a fresh start.
4. But, as you may already be sensing, Leviticus is not the end of the Jubilee Year idea and principles. Rather, the Jubilee Year imagery is used by Luke, taken from Isaiah, as a way to frame the way that he presents the mission of Jesus to the world.
5. So, what was Jesus actually saying when he stated that this prediction in Isaiah had been fulfilled in him? Well, it has to be obvious from our perspective that Jesus was saying that the effects of his ministry were the real, the actual, the intended fulfillment of the blessings fore-shadowed by the Year of Jubilee.