Summary: First in a series designed to help us get past the glitter of the holidays by focusing on the "mission statement" of Jesus in Luke 4:18-19.
Reflect the Purposes of Christmas
#1 – “To Preach Good News to the Poor”
December 1, 2002
Are you ready for the wonderful sights and sounds of Christmas?
You know, the crowded malls, the friendly sales clerks and not-so friendly clerks, the long drive around the parking lot trying to find not just the closest parking spot but trying to find any parking spot, the fights over the last sweater in that particular size and color…?
Festive clothing comes out this time of year. Like this tie, for example. You like it? It’s okay, you can be honest, because I know what you’re really thinking – “that tie is a crime against humanity.”
Christmas has a lot of baggage with it, doesn’t it? You’ve got presents, and the expectation of presents, the hassles of decorating, family newsletters, and all sorts of stuff.
It can be a depressing time for some, and a great time for others.
I want to suggest that we get out of the rut of the holidays this year. How do we do that? I think we do it by looking past the celebration of the holiday. I’m all for celebrating, by the way. But I want to focus on the purpose of the coming of Jesus.
This morning Ian read from Isaiah 61. This portion of Scripture was a prophecy about the Messiah, who the Jews were waiting for to redeem them.
We don’t know for sure whether Isaiah understood everything that he said here, but he knew it was from the Spirit of God – that’s why he was a prophet.
At the top of your bulletin, you will see how Jesus read this portion in just a bit.
He applied this to Himself, proclaiming Himself to be the Messiah, and declaring that He was about to begin His public ministry.
Let me read this portion, beginning a couple verses back in verse 16 of Luke chapter 4:
LK 4:16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. 17 The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
18 "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, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor."
20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, 21 and he began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."
Well, if you read a little farther, you find that the people listening kind of freak out a bit. They can’t believe that this carpenter’s son would proclaim Himself to be the Messiah.
And by the way, that’s what He did, and they understood exactly what He was saying.
Well, I would like to propose to you that the purposes Jesus lined out for the Messiah are still around. And I believe He has commissioned His followers to continue to bring His message to the world.
So today and for the next 3 weeks we are going to look at the “mission statement” if you will, and see what we can find in there to apply to our own lives and ministries.
Our focus today will be the first portion of that “mission statement,” – “to preach good news to the poor.”
And I want to show how Jesus meets the needs of the poor today, particularly through the ministry of the church.
And then I want to show how a person can benefit from the good news, okay? Let’s go.
1. Jesus meets the needs of the poor in pocket.
Jesus understands that we all have needs, and that many of them are physical and material.
In the Lord’s Prayer, we are to pray that God would “give us today our daily bread.” We are to ask Him for our provision, and for the strength to do our part.
But here’s something else Jesus said. I have it printed in your bulletin, from the New Living Translation:
"So don’t worry about having enough food or drink or clothing. Why be like the pagans who are so deeply concerned about these things? Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.” – Matthew 6:31-33 (NLT)
In other parts of the Bible, God promises to meet the needs of those who love Him.