Summary: Second in series looking beyond the glitter of the holiday to the purposes of the Messiah.
Reflect the Purposes of Christmas
#2 – Proclaim Freedom for the Prisoners and Release for the Oppressed.
December 8, 2002
Today we continue our Christmas series on reflecting the purposes of Christmas, as seen in Luke 4:18-19, which is printed at the top of your bulletin.
I’d like to ask that you join me as we read this out loud together, okay?
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."
Jesus used this portion of Scripture to proclaim that He was the Messiah, and that He had come to begin establishing the kingdom of God on earth.
Last week we talked about the first portion of this Scripture, that Jesus came to preach good news to the poor, both in pocket and in spirit.
Today we move to the second part of what I call the “mission statement” of the Messiah, and that is to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and release for the oppressed.
We are going to look at just what Jesus brought, and how to live in those freedoms. I trust that today will be the beginning of a whole new dimension in many of your lives and relationships with God.
I want to show us three ways to let the freedoms Christ brought us become more than cute religious sayings and theological attitudes. I want these to become so real in our lives that we will wonder how we ever got along without giving them more attention.
So let’s dive in. The first thing we need to do is to…
1. Celebrate the freedoms Jesus brought to us.
Jesus came to set us free. That’s wonderful news! But let’s get past the lingo and find out just what that freedom entails, okay?
JN 8:31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
The last part of Revelation 1:5 says this:
All praise to Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding His blood for us.
He sets us free from the penalty of sin. One day he will set us free from the presence of sin.
But what a lot of people don’t understand, at least at a level that makes a difference, is that right now, God wants to save us from the power of sin.
We are conditioned in the church to believe that we are slaves to sin as long as we live on earth, but folks, that’s just not true.
Will we sin at times? Yes. But do we have to live a life that is controlled both in attitude and action by sin? Absolutely not!
Jesus came to set us free! Why don’t we live like it more? Let me encourage you to do that.
You don’t have to say yes to sin – you can say no.
But here’s the caution. You can only say no to sin on a if you are a follower of Christ, who has been filled with the Holy Spirit, because only the Spirit can give you the strength to deny yourself and say yes to God.
Jesus sets us free from sin. He also sets us free from the…
- Fear of death
Death is at the top of a lot of peoples’ lists of things they are most afraid of. There is so much uncertainty about the moment of death, and the fact is that most people are not ready to die. They have not taken care of getting ready to meet God, who will judge those who have not come to Christ.
But let me read you a passage from Hebrews 2:14-17.
HEB 2:14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death--that is, the devil-- 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. 16 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. 17 For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.
Folks, the devil is the one who holds people in fear of death.
But Jesus came to destroy him. And if you are in Christ, you have no need to fear death. You have something to look forward to! Eternity in heaven, basking in the love of the Father, and worshiping Him forever.