Jesus returned to his hometown, and those who had loved him as a toddler welcomed him with arms wide open. They were so proud of the local son who had grown in knowledge, wisdom, favor with God, and favor with man. He left a carpenter and had returned a rabbi. It was so good to see the young minister return.
On that particular day, as Jesus attended church in the local synagogue, the leader invited Jesus to read from the sacred text. The scroll of Isaiah was given him. Jesus then stood, carefully navigated his way through God’s Word, until he arrived at a most important and beloved passage. He began to read:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. (Luke 4:18-19)
Jesus then stopped, rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and took his seat. They did not understand all that he had read, but to these friends he had delivered the best of news:
- Jesus was the anointed one
- Jesus was the one full of the Holy Spirit
- Jesus had come proclaiming Good News
- Jesus had come proclaiming spiritual wealth for those spiritually poor
- Jesus had come proclaiming spiritual liberty for those oppressed in Satan’s bondage
- Jesus had come proclaiming spiritual sight for those sinfully blind
- Jesus had come proclaiming spiritual favor
- Jesus had come to do all that he declared
Take a moment and consider all that Jesus accomplished.
Now friends, it surely is a fantastic privilege to enjoy the health, wealth, and prosperity given us by our Sovereign God. It is reasonable and right to enjoy our E-bay, I-pad, and X-box. There is no need for us to feel guilty. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Therefore, whether we eat ham, drink eggnog, listen to music, play video games, watch basketball, or whatever we do today, let us do it all for God’s glory. There is a time to sing, dance, celebrate and party hard. Today is one such day. Let us enjoy the material gifts and temporal festivities.
However, in our merriment, can we find some time to radically worship the Giver of the greatest gifts? We who are disciples of Jesus, do we need to be reminded that we do not have to:
- Work for God’s approval
- Work to alleviate God’s disproval
- Work to free ourselves from the devil’s grasp
- Work to escape hell
- Work to avoid purgatory
- Work to get the Spirit’s anointing
- Work to get God’s righteousness
- Work to get God’s approval
- Work to get the Father to like us
- Work to keep the Father liking us
The Messiah has come, the work has been done, the Spirit has been given, our eyes have been opened, our faith has been exercised, our actions are changing, and our future is secure. Never can we be loved less. Never can we be loved more. We are clothed in Christ Jesus and the Father persistently declares over us, “There are my beloved sons and daughters; with them I am well pleased.”
Therefore, let us not party less; let us party best! For all Christians, and anyone today who desire to become a Christian, it is one more festive day. It is another time to sing, dance, eat, drink, worship and “Celebrate Good Times.”
And tomorrow, let us not by shy or bashful. For since we are one with Christ Jesus:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon [us], because he has anointed [us] to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent [us] to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the [ongoing years] of the Lord’s [radical, undeserved, never-ending, awesome] favor.