Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Christmas Jubilee

Jesus Christ:  “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, for He has anointed Me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor (grace) has come.” He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at Him intently. Then He began to speak to them. “The Scripture you have just heard has been fulfilled this very day!” Luke 4:18-21 (NLT)
Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year! But why is Christmas so wonderful? With the arrival of Jesus Christ to earth, humans saw a full vision of God grace in the light of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ began the Messianic age of grace. Using Isaiah 61:1–2 as His text, Jesus Christ announced that He was the One anointed by the Spirit of the Lord to preach the Good News (Gospel). The Spirit of the Lord was upon Jesus Christ (Luke 4:18). The Holy Spirit had come upon Jesus Christ to empower Him to accomplish God’s good work on earth (Acts 10:38).

God the Father sent Jesus Christ into the world to usher in the “the time of the Lord’s favor.” Some translation says Jesus Christ came to proclaim the “acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:19). With Jesus Christ’s coming, He preached the Good News (Gospel) of God’s grace to the poor, and He healed the brokenhearted, released the captives, gave sight to the blind, and ended oppression (Luke 4:18; see also Matthew 20:28). Jesus Christ came into the world to bring God’s grace, comfort, and blessings to those all people who were downtrodden, bruised, crushed, and broken down by calamity. God graciously pours out His blessings and salvation to all who come to His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ (Luke 4:19; Acts 15:11). Jesus of Nazareth is God's Son and the Messiah (Christ) God sent into the world fulfill God’s promises.

In the Holy Scriptures, “grace,” “favor,” and “mercy” are often used interchangeably (e.g. see Genesis 6:8; Genesis 39:21; Exodus 3:21; Exodus 11:3; Exodus 12:36; Exodus 33:12-19; Judges 6:17; Psalm 25:16; Psalm 86:3, 16; Jeremiah 31:2; Zechariah 12:10). Most notably, grace, mercy and favor are combined to describe the one merciful, loving, gracious God (Exodus. 34:6; Nehemiah 9:17; Psalm 86:15; Psalm 103:8; Psalm 145:8; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2).
God announced His grace with the promise of a Savior at Genesis 3:15. The full vision of God’s grace is revealed in the light of Jesus Christ. For believers in Jesus Christ, the word “grace” is virtually synonymous with the Good News of God’s gift of unmerited salvation in Jesus Christ. God’s gracious gift of salvation and blessings are given freely to all through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9; see also1 Corinthian 1:4; Ephesians 1:6-7; 2 Timothy 1:9). Grace brings salvation (Ephesians 2:5, 8) and eternal life (Romans 5:21; Titus 3:7). God’s grace is so bound up with Jesus Christ that the Apostle Paul could speak of the “grace of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 8:9; 2 Timothy 2:1).

At Luke 4:18-19, Jesus Christ quoted from the Prophet Isaiah’s messianic Scripture found at Isaiah 61:1-2 and included a phrase from Isaiah 58:6. As Jesus Christ read to the people in the synagogue, He stopped in the middle of Isaiah 61:2 after the words, “to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor.” Jesus Christ read the portion of Isaiah’s messianic Scripture that dealt directly with the earthly ministry of the Messiah (such as preaching, healing, and salvation). However, Jesus Christ stopped just before the passage went on to describe His coming judgment in the end times.

As the God’s appointed Messiah (the Appointed One), Jesus read in the synagogue only that which applied to His ministry during His first coming (Luke 4:18-19). At Jesus Christ’s second coming, He will bring “the day of vengeance of our God” on all unbelievers and the unfaithful (Isaiah 61:2b). Unfortunately, many people then and now do not accept Jesus Christ’s gracious message. Instead of believing Jesus Christ and receiving the goodness of God’s grace, many people are outraged and turn from His free offer of God’s grace (favor) and blessings (2 Corinthians 1:20-22). All people who reject Jesus Christ and reject His grace (favor) will one day face “the day of vengeance of our God” (Isaiah 61:2). This day will come true when Jesus Christ returns to earth again at His second coming (advent). Long-suffering and the Cross are associated with Jesus Christ’s first coming; however, judgment and a crown, with His second coming. We are now under God's favor (grace) (Luke 4:19). However, God’s wrath and judgment is yet to come.

The Spirit of God, the Master, is on Me because God anointed Me. He sent Me to preach Good News to the poor, heal the heartbroken, announce freedom to all captives, pardon all prisoners. God sent Me to announce the year of His grace — a celebration of God's destruction of our enemies— and to comfort all who mourn, to care for the needs of all who mourn in Zion, give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes, messages of joy instead of news of doom, a praising heart instead of a languid (low) spirit. Rename them "Oaks of Righteousness" planted by God to display His glory. Isaiah 61:1-3 (MSG)

At Luke 4:18-19, Jesus Christ calls attention to “the acceptable year of the Lord” which compares the blessings of His ministry to the ancient Year of Jubilee. The Prophet Isaiah envisioned at Isaiah 61:1-2 the deliverance of Israel from Babylonian exile as a Year of Jubilee when all debts are cancelled, all slaves are freed, and all property is returned to original owners (Leviticus 25). Jesus Christ announced at Luke 4 that the “acceptable year of the Lord” had come (Luke 4:19), a reference to the Old Testament concept of the Jubilee Year (Leviticus 25:8-55). Every seventh year was a “Sabbatical year,” when the land was allowed to rest; and every fiftieth year (after seven Sabbaticals) was set apart as the “Year of Jubilee.” The main purpose of this special year was the balancing of the economic system. Once every 50 years, slaves were freed, all debts were canceled, and ancestral property was returned to the original family. The land lay uncultivated as humanity and animal rested and rejoiced in God.

But Israel’s release from Babylonian exile did not bring the fulfillment the Prophet Isaiah envisioned. At the time of Jesus Christ’s public ministry, the Israelites (also called Jews) were still a conquered and oppressed people. So, the Prophet Isaiah must have been referring to a future Messianic age. Jesus Christ boldly announced, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21). Jesus Christ was proclaiming Himself as the One to bring liberation. Jesus Christ applied Isaiah 61:1-2 to His own public ministry, not in a political or economic sense, but in a physical and spiritual sense. The first arrival of Jesus Christ brought God’s salvation and God’s grace (favor) to all people. Through faith in Jesus Christ, He delivers all people from bondages, sin, blindness, selfishness, demons, disease and eternal death (see Matthew 4:23–25; Matthew 8:16-17; Matthew 11:4–6; Mark 1:32–39; Luke 4:40-44). Indeed, Jesus Christ’s first arrival was a spiritual “Year of Jubilee” not only for the nation of Israel but to all people. God’s grace and liberation (salvation) comes to all people who have faith in His Son, irrespective of class, sexuality or race (e.g., see Luke 4:24-27). Jesus Christ brings God’s Good News to the poor, the brokenhearted, the captives (or prisoners), the blind, and the oppressed. Yet, the Kingdom of God is also in the future because Jesus Christ will return to reign over a perfect Kingdom where sin and evil no longer exist. Jesus Christ is truly our Redeemer, Liberator and Savior!

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” Luke 2:8-14 (NKJV)

Believer’s Study Bible. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1995.
King James Version Study Bible. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1988.
KJV Bible Commentary. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1994.
Life Application Study Bible. Carol Streams, IL: Tyndale House Pub., 2005.
Ryrie Study Bible. Chicago, IL: Moody, 1995.
Word in Life Study Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1996.
Wiersbe, Warren W. Bible Exposition Commentary. Victor Books, 1989.

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