Messiah Lutheran Church :: THE GOOD NEWS JUST KEEPS COMING


Dear friends in Christ,

Let’s go back 2000 years.  It is the Sabbath.  We are in the synagogue in Nazareth.  Nazareth was a hokey little town in northern Galilee.  Residents weren’t generally proud to announce they were from Nazareth.  Nathaniel, a disciple of Jesus even said, “What good thing ever came out of Nazareth?” 

Hold everything. That’s where Jesus grew up.  And for a while Nazareth was proud of that.  Local boy did good… at least for a while.  He was acquiring quite the reputation.  So he came home – the first time in a long time.  The synagogue leaders accorded him the honor of reading Scripture that Sabbath Day.  Jesus was handed the scroll and found just the right place.  He read with all authority,

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,
 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

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. He said, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”  What was that again?  “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing?”  Jesus, are you claiming to be the one that Isaiah was speaking about?  He was the one whom the Lord anoints to preach?  He was the Anointed One.  He is claiming to be the Messiah.

It took a little time to soak in.  His fellow citizens were outraged.  How dare you!  How dare you claim to be Messiah!  The favorite son soon turned into the “unfavorite son.”  Literally they wanted to throw him off the cliff on which the city was built. The Nazarenes wanted nothing to do with Jesus, something they would really regret. 

Unfortunately, now they know Isaiah’s prophecy was about Jesus.  If they had listened he was the one to bring the Good News, “The Good News that Just Keeps on Coming.”    

I often hear people say they know that the Bible has two parts, the Old Testament and the New Testament.  But then they say the Old Testament is God’s Law and the New Testament is Gospel.  That’s not accurate.  That’s saying the Old Testament is only about what God wants us to do and not to do and his wrath when we don’t do what he wants us to do and not to do.  The Old Testament is filled with good news of Jesus still to come.  The best way to define the Old Testament is to say it was written before Jesus but promises how he would come.  The New Testament was written after Jesus and teaches us that Jesus did come.  Isaiah, the largest book in the Old Testament has all kinds of Gospel in it.  Our sermon text is all about God news and it keeps coming.   

Another point that people try to make about the Old and New Testament is that God seems to be described differently.   The New Testament describes him as Triune, but the Old Testament seems to point out his oneness.  That’s not accurate either.  There are many times the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are mentioned, separately and together.  This is a passage where we can see God is Triune.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  1) The Spirit – that’s the Holy Spirit.  2) Of the Sovereign LORD – I wish I could show you that phrase in Hebrew.  Sovereign is really the Hebrew word “Adonai.” The problem is trying to put this into English.  Most of the time the word is translated “lord” too.  They would make the “l” a capital letter and all the other letters small.  They chose to translate it Sovereign.  This refers to God the Creator, the almighty, the ruler or sovereign over heaven and earth. 3) LORD in all capital letters is Jehovah or Jaweh.”   The LORD himself defined what people were to think when that name was mentioned when he passed before Moses and the Bible says, He proclaimed his name.  He is the compassionate and patient God who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin.  This is the Father. 

The “me” is Jesus whom the Spirit anointed at his baptism.  He is Messiah (the Hebrew word), the Christ (the Greek word) meaning the Anointed One. So there is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit revealed here and in other places.   

While Isaiah wrote these words, God the eternal Son, is speaking through the prophet.  He was the anointed one - Messiah.  At his baptism he anointed by the Holy Spirit and was declared by the Father “This is my Son whom I love with him I am well pleased.” 

I hope what I just explained was semi-undertandable, but I also understand that the God we have is better received on the basis of faith than reason and intellect.  Frankly, and I think we should all feel this way, to comprehend God completely would make for a small God.  God requires faith, not complete understanding.   

Think about Jesus, the anointed one.  Have any of you been watching the confirmation hearings that are going of President-elect’s cabinet.  As each hearing begins each nominee has some well-known big wigs introduce the nominee before the confirmation committee.  The bigger the big wig the better it is for the nominee.  When Jesus was anointed and declared to be the Messiah, the Father commended him and the Spirit of God filled him.  Recommendations to listen and follow don’t get bigger than that.  Don’t ignore Jesus.  Don’t doubt Jesus. Don’t yawn at what he says.  It is time to wake up and pay attention.  It’s time to listen.  There is no one like him.    

He came to save and came to tell us about it and what it means for you.  The prophet Isaiah was sent to the people of Judah.  Judah was a microcosm of each of us.  They had spiritual peaks and valleys. Their history was a history of being hot and cold for the Lord, so much like we are.     

He was anointed to proclaim good news to the poor.  Even Bill Gates or Warren Buffet are rich only so long.  The good news Jesus came to proclaim is that we have reservations in the heavenly Father’s house.  We will share in that inheritance and it is all bought and paid for.  We are booked forever.  The good news doesn’t stop there, it keeps on coming.

“He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted.” Broken hearts often are the result of broken relationships.  A couple breaks up, it hurts.  Some are moved to do desperate things.  People married for decades have their marriage ended when one dies.  A pastor told me he saw so many cases where the spouse followed in a few months.  He was convinced they died because of a broken heart.  The Bible says, “Sin separates us from God so that he will not hear.”  The good news is that the cause of the separation, sin, no longer exists in God’s sight because Jesus came to be the atoning sacrifice to pay for it all.  Our sin has been removed as far as the east is from the west.  Sin no longer separates us from God or our loved ones whom we will see again one day.  The good news doesn’t stop there.  It keeps coming.    

He came to “proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.”  Previously I stated that the theme of Israel was their hot and mostly cold relationship with the Lord.  The Lord would allow them to be taken off into captivity to Babylon.  They were prisoners.  They were captives.  It was to shake them up and bring them back to their spiritual senses.  That’s a picture of every sinner’s life.  The good news is that the Lord did not dessert them nor us.  Messiah paid the price for our freedom and then proclaimed that freedom.  There is no eternal dark dungeons we are destined for; we are going to Paradise.  The good news keeps coming.

He came “to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”  Every seventh year the Jews were to observe a sabbatical year.  No new crops were to be planted.  The land was at rest.  The Lord tested his people.  He would take care of them.  Every fiftieth year was a year of Jubilee. Think about that.  The 49th year was a Sabbatical year followed by the year of Jubilee.  For two years no crops were to be planted.  In the year of Jubilee, the land was to be at rest, all debts were to be forgiven, all land was to revert to original owners and all slaves were set free. That too was a picture of what God does for us.  No debt caused by sin, there is true spiritual rest, slaves to the cruel taskmasters like death and the Devil are no longer true. We don’t have to wait every seven or fifty years; that’s our situation every day. The good news keeps coming.

Jesus came to proclaim the day of vengeance of our God.”  A day of Judgment is coming.  Jesus spoke about that many times. To those who know the LORD absolutely no worry. To those who don’t listen and don’t believe, their worry will come too late.  Their worry is just beginning. 

Messiah “comforts all who mourn, and provides for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.”  In biblical days the sign of people humbling themselves in grief was sackcloth and ashes – the wearing of scratchy burlap and ashes on one’s person. Messiah says there is new clothes to wear. Our forgiving God bestows “a crown of beauty instead of ashes the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.”  We wear the robes of Jesus’ righteousness.  Good news, isn’t it?  It keeps on coming.   

God’s people “will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.” The oak (in Hebrew it was called the terebinth) was a stately leaf bearing tree that was strong and durable.  The Christian is called an oak of righteousness.  The righteousness lived by Jesus and imputed or charged to the faithful, makes us strong and durable in spite of storms that invade our lives.  The good news keeps coming.

We aren’t alone.  We are part of something called the Holy Christian Church, the body of Christ.   “They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.”  The history of the Jewish nation wasn’t good.  Babylonian Captivity was coming.  Babylon would destroy Jerusalem.  Down the road the Greeks would try to take over and then Rome.  Rome would also destroy what Judah tried to rebuild.  Judah’s history was a mess.  Jesus, however, speaks about a greater kingdom and a greater kingdom – His Church.  While the people of Israel did not appreciate what the Lord wanted to build, the Lord promised his church would extend to every nation.  Others would be brought in from every nation and tongue.  Service to the Lord would be rendered by people of every color.  We are those people.  We are Christ’s workmanship created unto Christ Jesus to do good works.   We are that “city set on a hill” that gives light and guidance to others.

“Strangers will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.”  It includes people from different lands and languages, from every nation, tribe and people. Each of us is included, made one by the blood of Jesus.    

That’s the Good news that Jesus came to proclaim.  Remember this: the Good News he proclaimed is real only because of his life his death and his resurrection.  That’s the good news that keeps coming and keeps us going.  Amen.



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