Summary: The first recorded message we have of Jesus defines for us the purpose of his arrival and the continued purpose of the church in the Great Commission

Grace Community Church

Winchester, VA

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I heard a story of a ship that was sinking in the middle of a storm, and the captain called out to the crew and said, "Does anyone here know how to pray?"

One man stepped forward and said, "Yes sir, I know how to pray."

The captain said, "Wonderful, you pray while the rest of us put on life jackets--we're one short."

The view of religion is often mocked by people who have no realization of their spiritual, and thus also eternal, condition. Karl Marx called it the opiate for the masses. It numbs people to the reality of the world. For those who have put their faith in Jesus, and are fully devoted followers of him, we are aware of the depth of the stain of our sin and the need for a savior.

This morning, we’re going to hear the first recorded message our Lord Jesus preached. As we talked about last week, Jesus was driven to the desert by the Holy Spirit after his baptism to be tempted and tested. After 40 days in the desert, he is ruthlessly tormented by Satan who is trying everything he can to overturn the mission of Christ. Jesus, as the perfect and sinless Son of God, prevails over Satan. He is able to overcome our sin and our temptation because he overcame all temptation.

Now Jesus retunes to Nazareth as Luke records in verse 14: "And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country. 15 And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all. 16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. (Luke 4:14–16 ESV)

The gospels tell us that the heart of Jesus’ ministry was a preaching ministry. He went around to the towns and preached in the Synagogues. (Mark 1:38; Luke 4:31; Luke 5:3). So we will see throughout the remainder of the Gospel of Luke, Jesus referred to as “Teacher” or in the Hebrew, “Rabooni” which is where we get our word, Rabbi. There were numerous synagogues spread out all over Galilee and so this provided Jesus with the perfect itinerate ministry to share the Gospel.

Now Luke tells us that Jesus returned to Galilee full of the power of the Spirit (v.14) and the news of the ministry of Jesus was spreading about the region. The point is, whenever God is doing something, word gets around. People begin to take notice. It isn’t fancy buildings, programs, or flashy preachers that attract people to God, it is the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

So now we find ourselves back in Nazareth with Jesus. It’s the Sabbath day and the traditional gathering of Jews was assembling in the Synagogue. At some point in the service, the Scripture would be read and expounded with a sermon from a Rabbi. And so, the keeper of the scrolls, the chazzan or cantor, would have given Jesus the scroll and he opens to the scroll from Isaiah 61:1-2, and Isaiah 58:6. This is where we are going to focus our time today.

17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:17–21 ESV)

In verse 18, we have a series of phrases that describe the work of the Messiah, the work of salvation. Within these phrases, there are four metaphors: the poor, the prisoners, the blind, and the oppressed. These four metaphors describe those who are apart from God; the lost, the unconverted, the unforgiven. Each of these provides a picture of the sinner and his desperate condition. Let's take them one at a time.

1. Good News to the Poor

Do you remember the Fauquier County couple who managed to get through security and crash a White House state dinner in 2009? Tareq and Michaele Salahi were seen in pictures with dignitaries and heads of state. Only it turns out they were never invited by then-President Obama. Those events are reserved for high dollar donors, prime ministers, celebrities, and world leaders.

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