My first sermon in front of the entire congregation was when I was maybe sixteen or so. But my real first sermon was at a nursing home devotional several years before that. My mom helped me come up with the topic and pick out the verses. I used to put little scraps of paper numbered 1, 2, 3… at the top to know where to turn next. During the lesson, I lost track of where I was supposed to go, so I started to cry. My first shot at preaching ended with my family hugging me and encouraging me to try again someday. Jesus’s first recorded sermon in Luke ended with Him almost being thrown off a cliff.
After Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, He came to Nazareth where He was raised. He went to the synagogue like He did every Sabbath, and stood up to read. [SIDE NOTE: where does the Old Testament talk about synagogues? Were they “authorized?” Despite the “silence” in the Law about synagogue worship, Jesus has no problem participating in these “innovations.” Biblical silence does not mean that something is forbidden.]
After looking through the scroll of Isaiah, He found the place He wanted to read, “THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED, TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD” (Luke 4:18–19).
This passage is from Isaiah 61. it’s interesting to me that He leaves off the second half of what we call verse two which says, “To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord and the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn…” Many might recognize the last part of this passage as something Jesus referenced in the Beatitudes in Matthew 5. But the context of this entire passage is interesting. It’s about judgement, restoration, and everlasting joy. In reading the first part of the passage, the entire context would have come to the people’s minds.
After reading this passage, He declared, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21). The initial response was good. But when Jesus pointed out that they would eventually reject Him, and that God would save the Gentiles like He did in the days of Elijah and Elisha, their temporary, surface-level acceptance turned into fury. In fulfillment of Jesus’s words, they tried to throw Him off a cliff.
Jesus was anointed, He said, to (1) preach good news to the poor, (2) proclaim release to the captives, (3) recover the sight of the blind, (4) set free the oppressed, and (5) proclaim the favorable year of the Lord. Since we are made kings in the kingdom of God, then we too should view these five principles as part of our mission and message. Election, as it turns out, is not simply for our salvation, but for the salvation of everyone around us. We are blessed not just as individuals, but so that we can be a blessing to our neighbors and enemies.
Over the next five articles, we’ll hit on each of these principles to end 2021!