Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Jesus Offers More than Forgiveness

In Luke 4:14-21 Jesus makes a beautiful proclamation:

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. 15 He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.

16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Jesus references Isaiah 61 and proceeds to announce He is the fulfillment of this scripture. This is deeply profound! While Christ came to pay the wages of sin by dying on the cross, Luke 4 suggests His ministry extends beyond mere forgiveness (which in itself is no small gift!):

We are spiritually poor, lacking every merit of our own. We have each rejected God, and rather than worship our Creator we have worshipped ourselves and creation.

Man’s rebellion rightfully deserves punishment, but God is slow to anger and abounding in love. 1 John 4:10 says: “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” Christ is the good news! He who knew no sin became sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. Jesus died the death we deserve to die. He died that we might have life! This is true love!

When we accept Christ’s gift of forgiveness by faith we inherit the hope of eternal life: “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:12). We stand clothed in the righteousness of Christ and we stand before the throne of God free of accusation and without blame. Isaiah 61:10 speaks of this: “For He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of His righteousness.”

Isaiah 61:1 expands the ministry of Christ further: “He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.” Christ has come to bind up the brokenhearted and set the captives free!

No striving of self will bring about lasting freedom from sin. Freedom is found only in an abiding relationship with Jesus Christ. In John 8:31 Jesus says: “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Jesus says the truth will set you free. He is the truth! Jesus Himself will set us free as we submit our lives to Him and allow His Spirit to empower us: “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17). And as John 8:36 says, if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed!

Christ not only frees us from the power of sin—He also frees us from the effects of sin. He binds up our broken hearts, and He brings restoration and healing: “He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:3-5). As we submit every wound to the truth of the Gospel, our bleeding hearts find healing in the blood of Christ.

Isaiah 61:3 continues: “They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.” Christ heals and restores for His name’s sake. He is setting aside a people for Himself. This holy people—the redeemed—are to be a display of the Lord’s glory and the very medium by which His glory is spread: “They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. Strangers will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards. And you will be called priests of the LORD, you will be named ministers of our God” (Isaiah 61:4-6). The children of God are the carriers of the Kingdom. They bind up the brokenhearted and proclaim good news to the poor. They plant seeds of truth and trust Christ to grow His Kingdom: “For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations” (Isaiah 61:11).

The redemptive ministry of Christ ought to humble us. Christ died not only to forgive us, but to free us and heal us! How deep is the love of Christ!

No comments:

Post a Comment