Read Luke 4:14-21
In Mark 1 we are told that Jesus got up early one morning, left the house and went to a solitary place to pray. His disciples looked for Him and when they found Him they said, “Everyone is looking for you.” Jesus had healed and delivered many. Many others were also coming for healing.
Jesus said, “Let us go somewhere else – to the nearby villages – so that I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” (Mark 1:38) There’s another statement about why He had come. He came to preach.
Mark 1:39 So he travelled throughout Galilee preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.
We read of how He once came to Nazareth where He had been brought up. On the Sabbath, He went to the synagogue and He was invited to read the reading for that day from Isaiah 61. Jesus read the passage, rolled up the scroll, gave it to the attendant and sat down. Everybody’s eyes were fastened on Him. It was obviously a pregnant moment.
The people had probably heard those words of Isaiah’s every year. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor” etc. But without a doubt word had got back to Nazareth about Jesus’ preaching around Galilee. We were told in v.14 that word about Him spread through the whole region. A few verses later Jesus referred to them having heard what He had done in Capernaum. Obviously word would get back to Nazareth about this local boy who was preaching and healing and performing miracles and receiving great praise.
So… what would Jesus say to them? He said simply, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Jesus applied Isaiah’s prophecy to Himself. He claimed that Isaiah’s words were about Him. He was the One anointed by God and upon whom the Holy Spirit rested. His mission was to…
- Proclaim good news to the poor
- Proclaim freedom for prisoners
- Proclaim the recovery of sight for the blind
- Set the oppressed free
- Proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.
Notice the emphasis on proclamation.
Everybody spoke well of Him until Jesus offended them by saying that his home town would not accept Him. Sure enough, they didn’t. They changed. They became furious and drove Him out of the town to the edge of a cliff intending to throw Him off. They were going to kill Him. They had heard about the impact He was having in all of the other villages – His teaching and His miracles – but they determined to kill Him. This was not the first attempt on Jesus’ life. Herod had tried to kill Him soon after His birth. Satan had suggested He jump off the Temple. And, it wouldn’t be the last attempt on His life, but God was in control and Jesus’ time had not come. He simply walked right through the crowd and went on His way.
The point I want us to notice though is that Jesus emphasised that He had come to preach, to proclaim.
Later in this chapter Jesus said, “I must proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.”
God sent Jesus into the world to preach a particular message. A big part of why Jesus came was to be a messenger. God wanted the world to know something. What was that message? Jesus said, “I must proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God.” Good news for the poor; freedom for prisoner, sight for the blind, release for the oppressed, God’s favour/God’s grace. God’s Kingdom is good news. In God’s Kingdom there is peace, wholeness, harmony, joy, healing, freedom. In contrast to the broken, mixed-up world, God’s Kingdom is a restoration of perfection. When God reigns, no bad things happen. God’s Kingdom is about justice and righteousness. Isn’t that fantastic news.
The Kingdom is not simply pie in the sky when we die. It was happening already. People were being healed and delivered of demons. The blind were seeing again. Sinners knew that they had been forgiven. God’s Kingdom was breaking into the world. People who had been oppressed for many years were being set free. God was beginning to fix some of the brokenness of the world. It wouldn’t be complete until the end of time but it had started. What an incredible message! God is fixing the world.
Jesus came with amazing good news about the end of pain and division and brokenness and Nazareth tried to kill Him. What does that tell us?
John 18:37 ‘You are a king, then!’ said Pilate.
Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.’
The reason His coming into the world was to testify to the truth. He came as a messenger. The core of His message was often summed up as concerning the Kingdom of God.
Matthew 4:17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”
After His resurrection, for forty days, Jesus taught the apostles about the Kingdom of God (Acts 1:3).
He had a message that people needed to hear. That message was the Kingdom of God. Jesus’ compassion and His miracles were visual examples of the reign of God. When the demonised were delivered, the blind saw, the lame walked, lepers were cleansed, the lonely were befriended, and sinners were forgiven, Satan’s rule was being pushed back and God’s rule was breaking in. When God reigns everything is as it should be –everything is as God intended it to be in the first place before human sin messed it up.
But, notice something else. Not everyone wants God to rule. In Nazareth the people tried to kill Him. To Pilate, Jesus said, “Everyone on the side of truth listens to me” so not everyone is on the side of truth.
John 3:19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world [that is what we celebrate at Christmas] but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.
Why would anyone reject such good news? Because they don’t want God to be King. The Nazareth incident was not the last attempt on Jesus’ life. This bearer of good news was rejected and crucified. Jesus knew that that would happen but He proclaimed the news anyway because some would believe. Some would repent and choose God’s way.
Over the last few weeks we have seen that Jesus said that He came to save sinners. We cannot do that; only Jesus can. He came to fulfil the Law. We cannot do that; only Jesus can. He came to give us abundant life. We cannot do that; only Jesus can. He came to proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God. We can do that. First of all, this is a message to us. Jesus calls us to repent and believe and become part of His Kingdom. Then He tells us to pass this message on to others. He commands it. The only choice we have is the choice to be disobedient, that is, the choice to say, “I don’t want God to be King. I want to be king. I want to say what I will do and what I won’t do.”
Down through history there has been a long line of people proclaiming God’s good news. As far back as Genesis 3 God said that Eve’s offspring would crush Satan’s head. God made a covenant with Abraham saying that He would bless all the peoples of the earth through him. The prophets warned about judgement but in amongst all of that there was always good news of God restoring His people, sending the Messiah and establishing His Kingdom. Isaiah is an example: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor…”
The angel that spoke to the shepherds outside Bethlehem said, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” Then the shepherds passed it on. Luke says that after they “spread the word concerning what had been told to them about this baby.” Simeon and Anna in the Temple, rejoiced and declared that God had sent the Saviour. Anna gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem (Lk 2:38). John the Baptist prepared the way and pointed people to Jesus. On the Day of Pentecost, the previously fear-crippled disciples stood up bravely and proclaimed that Jesus was the Messiah. Every day after that new believers were added to the church. When Peter and John were arrested the believers prayed about the rising persecution but they didn’t pray for protection. They prayed, “Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.”
When persecution broke out in Jerusalem, the believers were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.
Acts 8:4 Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.
The church grew and spread throughout the known world. God’s people have always been proclaimers of a message. Jesus was in that line of proclaimers. We are part of that line of proclaimers.
Let’s make sure we are proclaimers and let’s make sure that the message we are proclaiming is the biblical message. We can proclaim together as a church and we will do that on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. But we are called to proclaim as individuals too and throughout the year. Jesus came to proclaim this message because people needed to hear it. People still need to hear it.
What is the message? Here’s one way of expressing it.
There is another world (or, we could say, “There I another way to live”.) This world is beautiful in many ways but it is also a world of pain and brokenness. We all experience that. However another world also exists. It is the world where God reigns as King. One day this world will come to an end and God’s Kingdom will be established. It will be a world of absolute perfection – harmony, peace, joy, justice, righteousness. The Bible says there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain. When God reigns, everything will be as He intended it to be.
Even now, God’s Kingdom is present and can be experienced in some ways. Even now, God forgives people and loves people and heals and delivers. Within the life of the church, people should be able to experience life as God intended it. The Kingdom of God is present in little ways now and one day will be present in its fullness. God wants us to enjoy His perfection.
The big question is whether we will be part of that Kingdom. It requires that we acknowledge God as King and we choose to live God’s way. He will help us do it but we must choose God’s way rather than our own. That means we must repent. We must acknowledge that we have been living our own way. We have rejected God’s way. Repentance means a 180o change of direction.
But what about all of the things we have already done that were wrong? God has made provision for that too. He knew that we would need to be forgiven. He sent His Son, Jesus, in to the world to pay the price for our sin. When Jesus died on the cross, He took our sin on Himself so that we could be forgiven.
If we believe that Jesus is our Saviour and we are willing to live God’s way not our own, we become citizens of God’s Kingdom. As citizens we know God and His care for us and we honour God by obeying Him.
However, if we choose not to believe in Jesus and follow Him, then we exclude ourselves from God’s Kingdom and we choose to be separated from God for ever. God gives us that choice but please don’t do that. God wants you to be saved for all eternity. That is why He sent Jesus. That is why those who understand this celebrate Christmas. Please put your trust in Jesus and choose to follow Him.