To Proclaim Good News
Tradition holds that in the year 490 BC an Athenian herald by the name of Pheidippides (530–490 BC) was sent to Sparta to request help when the Persians landed in Greece. He ran to various cities covering about 150 miles in two days. The battle reached its high point and began to resolve with the Greeks defeating the Persians. Pheidippides then ran the 25 miles from the battlefield near Marathon back to Athens to announce their victory over Persians
Pheidippides brought the news of victory from Marathon and addressed the magistrates who were in session and anxious about how the battle was going. Pheidippides said, "Joy to you, we've won," and after proclaiming the good news of victory in the battle of Marathon he died, breathing his last words "Joy to you."
When the modern Olympics were resumed in 1896 and needed a name for long distance running, they chose the name marathon to pay tribute to this heroic act and commemorate the origins of the game.
It was a legendary sacrifice to proclaim good news of victory. The Greek people were anxious and worried about how a battle was going, knowing their future hinged on the outcome. As victory was pronounced, it brought relief and hope to all.
As we celebrate Christmas, it is a time of good news. We are looking at what is at the heart of Christmas, and we see in this passage Jesus came to proclaim good news.
- Good News of Who Jesus is.
[And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the SAbbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
This passage tells us some important things about Jesus, who he is and what he has come to do. We can't just gloss over it.
Nazareth. We are not talking about the 70’s rock band. No hair of the dog or love hurts. Nazareth is the town Jesus was raised in. Born in Bethlehem. Refuge to Egypt because Herod was searching for him at his birth. Killed all the children under two in Bethlehem. When Herod died his family moved back to Israel and settled in the little podunk town of Nazareth. A city known for nothing. When the disciple Nathaniel first heard Jesus was from Nazareth he asked, “can anything good come out of Nazareth” (John 1:46).
Bithlo. Christmas. Nazareth and Bithlo were similar.
Brought up. This is where he was raised. There is also something here of Jesus' upbringing. He went to Sabbath as was his custom. It was a habit he had, a way of life. He was devoted. In the synagogue they would read the word, hear it explained, and pray. Those are the life changing basics of the faith. Real thing. It was essential and important to Jesus' life.
But the key about JEsus here is that he is “the anointed one,” of the Spirit. In the synagogue service Jesus reads the Scripture and goes to a passage that would be familiar to his people. It is Isaiah 61, and it speaks of the coming messiah, the servant of the Lord.
Isaiah was a prophet around 640 bc. God’s people had disobeyed him and were removed from the land he promised to them. Israel was conquered by Babylon and its people were deported to babylon. It was supposed to be for 70 years but the people continued disobeying God. so their punishment is extended. Like a timeout gone bad. But God reveals his plan to the prophet Isaiah and so he foretells of one who will come and save the people.
First, Isaiah makes the connection that God is doing something to be with his people once again (Isaiah 7). God is going to reverse the plight of his people and in chapter 9 it speaks “For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given and the government will be upon his shoulders. He will be called Wonderful Counseling, MIghty God, Prince of peace” (9:6). This has echoes of the promise given to David that he will have a son who will reign forever. Isaiah again builds on this in chapter 11 “that a shoot will come from the stump of Jesse.” Jesse was the father of david. David was king and was promised a descendant who would rule forever. The theme continues building so in Isaiah 42 “God mentions his servant whom he will uphold and put his spirit on him. He will establish justice on the earth.” The unthinkable happens in Isaiah 53 where this servant is despised and rejected by men and he is pierced for the transgressions of his people and this is done so the will of the Lord would prosper. In 61 this servant figure reimerges and it is said the Spirit is on him to preach good news, to bind up the brokenhearted and proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
Isaiah prophetic words of a savior are like a spotlight starting out wide and getting narrower and narrower to the person of Jesus. When Jesus says today these words are fulfilled it is an audacious claim. Everyone knew what this passage was about. Everyone knew what it meant for them. No one knew who it was though. Jesus says it is he.
This is who Jesus was. It is who he is. Do you know Jesus was arguably the greatest teacher who ever lived. His influence is all over the world. Every religion and every philosopher since has to deal with what he said and did. He was said to do miracles. It is attested in the eyewitness accounts of those who saw and recorded what he did. It is also acknowledged in secular records, ie.
“Now, there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works-a teacher of such men as to receive the truth with pleasure. . He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.” Flavius Josephus, Antiquities. Book 18
He is in the line of kings. The Savior would come from the line of king David. You might go and fabricate miracles and work on some good tweets to get a following, but you can't fabricate who your father is. And in a society who took that seriously it would be even harder. Jesus is in the line of king David. And while kings were anointed with oil to symbolize the Spirit of God on them Jesus received the actual anointing of the Spirit.
What is more amazing than saying this is that after this day he will be healing the blind, helping the poor, and setting captives free. People will be freed of demons. Those who have been oppressed find hope. Those who are oppressing will be brought down. His work begins after this. But it is appropriate that at Christmas we recognize the uniqueness of the person who is God in the flesh.
Who do you say Jesus is? If you are not sure he is the Savior of the world, take some time and study these passages in Isaiah. Look at what Isaiah was pointing to and then look at the life of Jesus.
As we celebrate the virgin birth of the Son of God, who was fully God and fully man, it is a bit odd. It is odd in that it has never happened. But it was necessary and makes sense of the Scriptures. Jesus is utterly unique. And he is like the final piece of puzzle that ties everything together. We don't fully understand, but we understand enough to trust.
- What he came to do.
Proclaiming Good News. If you knew God was coming to see you today, what would you do? What would you expect to hear?
["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."
What would you expect to hear from him? God sent his Son into the world with a message. It is a message of good news.
Gospel. The English word "gospel" is derived from two words - "God" or "good," and "spell," an old Saxon word meaning "history, narration, word, or speech," and the word therefore means "a good communication" or "message."
That's amazing. Other worldly things. Schrivener. The world in which Jesus lived. Dominated by Greek and Roman mythology. The pantheon of Gods. If you have many leaders you have no leader. You have many gods, you have no God. Stories of zeus rapping
Jesus is different in his being and differing in his proclaiming. He has come to save, not come to oppress.
"proclaim good news to the poor.
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."
Good news to the poor. Poor means those who are destitute of the comforts of this life. Perhaps spiritual poverty is in mind too, meaning all those who are sensible of their sins, shortcomings, and failures. They are miserable and afflicted.
Why would God care for the poor? If this story originated with men it would not care for the poor. It would focus on fame and greatness and those who can contribute towards that end. But God cares for the poor. Jesus came to the poor and destitute as one who was poor and destitute. He understands our suffering and came to bring us out of it.
To heal the brokenhearted - To console those who are deeply afflicted, or whose hearts are "broken" by external calamities or by a sense of their sinfulness. Old saying that you can’t force the gospel into anyone’s heart; all you can do is lay it on top so when the heart breaks it falls in.
Deliverance to the captives - This is originally applicable to those who were in captivity in Babylon. They were miserable. To grant deliverance to "them" and restore them to their country - to grant deliverance to those who are in prison and restore them to their families - to give liberty to the slave and restore him to freedom, was to confer the highest benefit and impart the richest favor. In this manner the gospel imparts favor. “It does not, indeed, "literally" open the doors of prisons, but it releases the mind captive under sin; it gives comfort to the prisoner, and it will finally open all prison doors and break off all the chains of slavery... Matthew Henry.
Proclaim the year of the Lord's Favor. In the old testament there was a year of Jubilee every fifty years in which all who had been in debt or enslaved would be pardoned and set free. Their circumstances reversed. This is not the year of the Jubilee. It is something much greater. It is the year of the Lord’s favor in which his favor is poured out on people. Jesus proclaims its coming.
Jesus comes to proclaim.
Personal renewal and restoration.
Release from constraints imposed by others
Rectification of circumstances.
What does that have to do with us today? We are in an affluent society. People have so much stuff. We have economic prosperity, but we have social and mental poverty. I heard it said the other day that we are a systemically mentally ill society. Darkness, bondage, brokenness. Much of our oppression comes from within. We are enslaved to our own desires, our own expectations, our own standards. Bound to the approval of others.
Everyone wants to do whatever they want and to be praised by all. That there is a contradiction in goals. You don't want to do what anyone wants you to do. Be your own person. Self made individual. And yet you want everyone to praise you, like you, support you, celebrate you. Want to be God, and darkness sets in when we can’t achieve that.
The Gospel gets real because he is the one who sets us free and not finances, education, respected by others. He sets us free because he frees us to lay everything down for others. Give up those things and rather than seeking the ever failing goal of being worshiped by everyone, you become liberated to one who is seeking to serve and help others. This is what Jesus did. He shows us this is the way to life. It's not in the endless cycle of spinning plates to please everyone.
The more affluent societies become the higher rates of depression go. Shame. Bring to him for healing. Adam and Eve should have gone to God. Instead they sewed fig leaves, blamed each other.
Demonic. I don't think we talk about this enough. There are spiritual forces of darkness in the world. Satan shoots his flaming darts at us. Don't know when it is our own fleshly longings and the influence of evil. You look at things going on in the world. The hatred, the anger, the violence. Satan exacerbates everything. Ever been in an argument and things start coming to mind, and there is such a force in needing to have things a certain way. Its not just the thought, but it is the urgent demand.
How many movies do we see where the internal battle is the most significant one for a person.
He didn’t come to make you better. He came to save you. You didn’t need improving. You needed saving. You fell short of what God required. In darkness, consumed with darkness. He came to transform you, transform the world.
Blind. Broke people don't fix themselves. Imprisoned people don't free themselves. Blind people don't make themselves see. Dead people don't make themselves alive. Needed saving from outside. Need one who is anointed with the Spirit of God to proclaim good news that is effective.
Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
Jesus came to give us good news to proclaim
Jesus came to proclaim this. If it is true you have something to share with others.
When Jesus finishes with the reading and interpretation, the people become furious and drove him out of town. That may be a bit bold today, but it is getting closer to how many react to him. Typically people just silence him. Remove him from life just as we removed Christmas from holiday greetings. He is not the center of movies and parties, and not mentioned in our homes and dinners and lives.
You have to determine who Jesus is. You have determined how he fits into life. The people in Nazareth understood the audacity of the claim he was making. Most people today just try to split the difference. Live in the comfortable middle. That doesn’t exist with Jesus. He either offers the greatest news ever, or he is a complete fake.
Jesus is the one person who applauding, liking, commending him simply isn't enough. He is not a contestant on a game show. He is so much more deserving. I like my doctor's advice, eat better, exercise more, but I'm not going to do it. That is a slight on my confidence in him. Why waste his time. HOw much more so with Jesus. Churches are full of people who come occasionally to hear a new word. To give some applause, but they refuse to give Jesus the place in their life that he deserves.
If you receive then you want to proclaim this news. giving Christmas gifts. I don’t want to cloud or confuse the meaning of the season. I want to root my kids and others in Christ. I got you a gift because we love you, and we want to celebrate God giving the greatest gift we could ever receive.
Surrender and follow. If you want to break the power of evil. If you want to rise out of oppression. Surrender to him. Follow him. Stop saying no.
Take a step in the direction you need to go. It may be that you are not ready for that. Right now it may be simply being honest where you are, and sharing the doubts you have, the questions that surround Christ.