Summary: This is the 3rd in a series of messages based on Luke 4:14-21 and Isaiah 61:1-4 which equates the mission of the Church with the mission of Jesus as He states it in Luke 4:18-19.
His Mission and Ours: To Proclaim and Grant Forgiveness
So far in our text from Luke 4 we have discovered that His Mission and Ours to “bring good news to the poor, to proclaim release to those in bondage to sin, and to proclaim recovery of sight to the blind.” Jesus calls His Church to minister to the poor, those enslaved in sin, and those who are sick. His mission and ours is one of social holiness or social justice, one of evangelism to the lost, and a ministry of healing to those who are sick.
I would like for us to picture our Lord’s mission and ours in terms of being spokes of a bicycle wheel or wedges in a pie. Thus far we have three spokes or wedges that can call social holiness, evangelism, and healing. This morning we add the fourth: forgiveness. His mission and ours is to proclaim and to grant forgiveness.
Today’s portion of Jesus’ text from Isaiah proclaims: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed Me . . . to let the oppressed go free.” Just what do Isaiah and Jesus mean by this? We might consider it as a reaffirmation of our first calling, that of social holiness or “preaching good news to the poor.” This certainly is a part of the picture. Poor people are oppressed people.
Rulers and governments from the beginning of time have oppressed the poor
by abusing their authority and power through using burdensome, cruel, and unjust treatment. Such is still often the case today. We as WASP Americans have been notorious in our oppression of Native Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, and Hispanic Americans throughout our history.
God’s Chosen people the Jews have continually experienced oppression that includes their 400 years of slavery in Egypt; Satanic oppressions by the evil Haman in the Book of Esther; Hitler’s horrific Holocaust which we must never forget; and today by such Arabic terrorist groups as Al-Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah. Perhaps this is why God commands them, and us as well, in Exodus 23:9, “You shall not oppress a resident alien; you know the heart of an alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.” Solomon also is right on target when he reminds us in Proverbs 14:32:
Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker,
but those who are kind to the needy honor Him.
It is unchristlike and an insult to our Christian faith for anyone who claims to be a disciple of Jesus Christ to oppress any of His children He has created in His image. If we do with no thought of repentance and estuation, God will hold us accountable for our thoughtless oppression of His people.
Jesus calls us to be His instruments to “let the oppressed go free.” Our holy calling is definitely a mission to free those we see cruelly, inhumanly, and unjustly oppressed by today’s society and world powers; this is an affirmation of our calling “to bring good news to the poor.”
However, this only scratches the surface of our text. Our calling goes much deeper. His Mission and Ours is to “Proclaim and Grant Forgiveness to the Oppressed.” The forth wedge or spoke in our mission is a message of forgiveness.
Our key to understanding His Mission and Ours lies in the word “free.” What does it mean? It refers first of all to being “released from bondage or imprisonment,” but in particular it applies to the “forgiveness or pardon of sins.” It reassures us that when anyone accepts Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour and Lord, God “lets their sins go as if they had never been committed at all.” It is the message that when God forgives those who repent of sin and turn to Him, He does so in the same light a President or Governor would in granting a pardon to a convicted criminal. Pardoned offenders are released from the legal consequences or conviction of the offenses they have committed. Their penalty is completely cancelled. This is the forgiveness God gives to all who turn to Him by trusting in Jesus Christ as their Saviour and Lord.
His mission and ours is to proclaim God’s forgiveness and to grant forgiveness to all. We proclaim to everyone the forgiveness of Jesus as expressed through Holy Communion in Matthew 26:27-2, “Then (Jesus) took a cup, and after giving thanks He gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’”
The message we proclaim is that of John in I John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The forgiveness we proclaim is the message of Paul in Ephesians 1:7-8, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace that He lavished on us.” The forgiveness proclaimed by Matthew, John, and Paul is that when Jesus forgives our sins “He lets them go as if they had never been committed at all.” We proclaim the good news to all receptive hearts that when they turn to Jesus in true repentance they receive forgiveness, freedom, liberation, that is total, absolute, and complete.