Tag Archives: Messiah

Good News to the Poor, All of us Isaiah 61: 1-11 First St Johns Dec 14, 2014

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We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and if you are anointed and if the Holy Spirit is on you, say … AMEN!

The reading in Isaiah is the theme of the sermon today, but I have to start with our epistle reading. Paul tells us to exhort, so I am going to exhort you: “Rejoice always!” We know what time of year it is, we are reminded that while Advent is a time of penance, of clearing the clutter of sin that has gathered in our heart we are prepared for the coming of the Christ child and just as significantly, His second coming at the end of time. So yes, rejoice, but still remember to pray without ceasing. Part of prayer should be repentance. Pray for forgiveness, but a special emphasis on praying for help to prepare for His return. For myself, Lord remind me of whose I am in You, that I am saved in You. Yes I need forgiveness, that I am sinful, that I need a Savior.

700 years before the fact, before it actually happens God is giving Isaiah the words that Jesus says in Luke 4: 18-19. These are the words that Jesus says at the beginning of His earthly ministry. He had just gone through the temptation by Satan, certainly Satan knew Jesus is God the Son and now Jesus has gone back to his hometown, Nazareth. He proclaimed the words of Isaiah to identify Himself as the one anointed by God. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, but His ministry started when He returned to Nazareth and in front of the synagogue on the Sabbath day He proclaimed, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to proclaim the good news to the poor.”

What, just the poor? Yea! Who are the poor? In terms of our relationship with God, we are all poor. Remember “Christmas Clubs”? I don’t think banks have them anymore, but all year long, you would go to the bank (yea, definitely before electronic banking), you would take part of your regular income and deposit it in your Christmas Club account? Back then it would actually earn some meaningful income and then just before Christmas, not Black Friday, that wasn’t around either. You would take everything you’ve saved, go and buy your presents and decorations and holiday food. When you emptied that account you might have felt like you had some money, but after a few days of Christmas shopping you felt even lighter in the pocket book then you had before. You may have been poor again, but celebrating the birth of Jesus makes us rich.

Yea, this time of year, like it or not, we are all kind of poor so that we can have that great holiday celebration. But that’s not what Jesus is really talking about.  He’s talking about the “Poor in Spirit”. Where does that phrase come from? … The Beatitudes, “The Sermon on the Mount”. What does He say about the “Poor in Spirit”? “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” We want to be “Poor in Spirit” don’t we? As Christians, by definition we should be poor in spirit in order to have the Kingdom of Heaven. That Kingdom came when Jesus came into the world. We who are the poor in spirit have inherited that kingdom. We are living that kingdom today. While that kingdom has arrived in Jesus and we should live our lives as subjects of the kingdom, as loyal subjects of King Jesus, the kingdom that is to come, as we pray for it, has not yet been realized. You may not think you’re “poor” in anything, but you would be wrong, unless of course you don’t know Christ as your Savior.

It is Jesus who has been xv;m’ That is anointed, kings and priests would be “anointed”, this would be a special blessing to them to bear their duties, to faithfully serve, to be the ones who would do what Yahweh has designated them to do. We call Jesus, Messiah, that is the One who is anointed, who has been blessed and designated by God to bring us the Good News, to bind up, proclaim liberty, release those who are bound. All the things that sin imposes on us and Jesus is anointed to save us from.

While Yahweh is giving the words to Isaiah of the great promise of the Savior, He’s also reaffirming a previous promise. He’s reaffirming a promise made about 800 years earlier, to Abraham, not just that Abraham will have, what we know to be hundreds of millions of descendants, but that they will be blessed in Jesus who has been anointed, who has the Spirit of the Lord. We who are blessed to be eternally saved in Jesus, in the resurrection. In one of the verses not quoted, Yahweh promises “…you shall be called the priests of the Lord; they shall speak of you as the ministers of God;…” Peter re-emphasizes that when he writes 700 years later: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” You may be poor in spirit, but Yahweh says that we are priests, minister of our God and speaks through Peter to re-affirm that promise 700 years later.

We end with God’s promises that will be confirmed and carried out by Jesus during His human lifetime and will be the gifts of all who are in Jesus, you and I, until He returns that second and last time. Isaiah writes: “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; … He has clothed me with the garments of salvation…the robe of righteousness, the bridegroom will have a beautiful headdress and the bride will be adorned in jewels.” It may be difficult to picture or appreciate, but there is no doubt in my mind that we will understand how magnificent it will be when we see it accomplished in all of us who are in Jesus. We have a tiny little speck of it when we celebrate Christmas, the lights and decorations, for the Lord’s first coming. We can’t even begin to imagine how magnificent it will be, what we will see in the second coming of Jesus.

Paul’s words, two simple phrases, write them down in your journal, really think over them: “Rejoice always” “Pray without ceasing”. Rejoice because we have the promises. Pray to stay strong in God’s promises. Rejoice always means, always. It’s often tough to do, but always means always; not just when you’re in the mood. Not just when Christmas is coming, or maybe when it’s over. Rejoice even when someone bashes in your door, when you’re in the hospital, yes even when the time of year reminds you who won’t be at the Christmas feast this year. Rejoice not because they’re gone, but because we have the eternal promises to be with those we love and to enjoy the magnificence of eternity in God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. So how do you rejoice this Advent, what are your prayers?

The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Shalom and Amin.

The Gates of Hell

We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit. And all those who say “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” said … AMEN.
Jesus and His disciples are in the district of Caesarea Philippi. which is north of Capernaum, in the north of Israel, near the Syrian/Lebanon borders. Look at the cover of your bulletin, this is a temple of Zeus and Bacchus that was built by Philip the Tetrarch of this district. Philip was the son of Herod the Great, one of the few surviving sons. Since both he and his father owed heir titles to the Romans, they were careful to flatter the Romans to keep them happy and Philip built this temple to Roman Gods. Philip wasn’t exactly Jewish, he used his quasi Jewish status when it suited him and likewise switched to Roman “gods” when it suited his purpose. Philip married Salome, you might remember that Salome was the daughter of Herod and Herodias and after she danced for Herod asked for John the Baptist’s head. Yea, these people were more than a little messed up. Philip had enlarged the city and named it after Caesar and himself, which seems a little presumptuous. You can imagine, the Jews in this area hated Philip for his various offenses and saw this temple as a blasphemy, a sacrilege against their Jewish religion and they referred to this temple as the “Gates of Hell”. According to legend, this is where Jesus and the twelve disciples were camping when today’s reading took place. You can kind of picture them sitting around the campfire. Things are starting to come to a head, in the very next chapter the same Peter, with John and James are going to climb a mountain with Jesus and see Him transfigured and God the Father declaring Jesus to be His Son. For those who like to deny that Jesus is God the Son, seems pretty hard to dispute Peter’s confession, Jesus’ confirmation and then the Father confirming His Son. If Jesus isn’t God the Son, seems a big fuss is being made.
There are a few things going on in this passage and they might seem a little random.
Peter has his failures, and they’re pretty huge and he also has his high points, no question this is a high point. No doubt Peter is sure that this Jesus is someone pretty special. But when Jesus says “…who do you say I am”, Peter didn’t seem to hesitate. ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Peter’s saying a few things here and this temple is the effective backdrop of this exchange. You are the promised one. Christ isn’t a name, it’s a title. The Hebrew word Mesi,an is the equivalent word of Christ or cristo,j which means anointed one. According to John MacArthur Mesian in the Hebrew: “refers in the Old Testament to prophets (1 Kings 19:16), priests (Lev 4:5, 16) and kings (1 Sam 24: 6, 10). In the sense that all of them were anointed with oil. This anointing symbolized a consecration for ministry by God. Jesus Christ, as the Anointed One, would be the ultimate Prophet, Priest and King (Is 61:1, John 3:34) … Peter declares his faith in Jesus as the promised Messiah.”1
Peter really stepped up and Jesus proclaims, “Blessed are you Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” Jesus is saying that you are special Peter, God has chosen you to proclaim this, you know who I AM to the depths of your soul. Not because you had some great insight but because the Father chose you to declare that I AM the promised Messiah, the one who is the promised Savior of mankind.
Jesus builds on this, since you know this, I can also declare that I will build my church on your proclamation and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against My church. Church in the Greek refers to those who are called out, the Christian community of saints. Not just this building, or the Lutheran Church, all the saints, all those who are hagios, holy, separated people of Jesus, you.
If you look at this picture again, you might be able to tell that this temple has been carved out of stone, this whole thing is one big rock. So when Jesus says on this rock, on top of this pagan temple is where my church, my people will be. When I was there, hearing the tradition, I could almost see Jesus pointing over His shoulder. You see that big rock, that people here call the gates of Hell, my church is going to be built on this temple to false “god’s” and it will never prevail against My church, My church will always be on top.
I also took from this, that Jesus is making a direct reference to the idea that all false “gods” are of Satan. That all false “gods” are actually demons, evil spirits who have corrupted people to believe that they are “gods”. Jesus is saying that these false “gods” and we know that Satan is referred to as the “god of this world” John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11 will never overcome the Kingdom of Heaven.
In four more chapters Jesus will make His triumphant entry into Jerusalem to establish His victory over the world. He will be sacrificed then, He will die as payment for all of our sins and then will rise again in triumphant victory over sin and death. Sin and death are the very essence of Satan and His demons. They may rule the world now, but Jesus’ promise to His disciples and we are His … disciples, that in the end when it really matters He will defeat Satan and reestablish the world the way that God had created it.
In establishing His church, Jesus begins to empower His church. His church will possess the keys to heaven on earth. This means He has given His church the authority to declare what is sin and bind that sin. No other institution has that authority, only the church of Jesus, which the Lutheran Church certainly is. Our authority is based on Scripture and we bind or loose based on God’s Word. Because of God’s Word, we know what God has already bound, who He has locked heaven against. We are simply declaring what has been bound, and in a sense, enforcing that binding from what God has declared.
The world may try to deny the authority and even the legitimacy of the church, but Jesus has certainly declared the church’s authority in this passage. The church, made up of those who are separated, declared holy, will be those who have not just authority, but also responsibility to be the instrument of God’s will.
To those who ignore the church, deny the church has any real meaning, Jesus is clearly establishing His church. The disciples, represented by Peter, have recognized who Jesus is and that He is the promised One of God. He is the anointed One, anointed Prophet, Priest and King and now Jesus has established His church and declared that His disciples make up that church and they have the authority to represent Jesus. As His apostles, His sent ones they, and us, will do the things that the church is responsible to do, to declare the will of Jesus in the world. For those who think that “worship” is on the golf course or the beach, Jesus is saying these people are my church, they will lead in worship, do the work of the church. Anything else will only be personal preference and idolatry.
Take some time this week to think about how that looks, what does that mean to the world? Certainly it is proclaiming the Gospel, He who died to pay for our sins and who rose to give us the only way to eternal life. It is also going to those who are living a life that rejects Jesus and chooses to only be concerned with their own desires. The church is the institution that Jesus empowered to baptize, to be His instrument to bring people into the Kingdom of heaven. His church has been given the responsibility to offer the life saving Blood and Body of Christ. His church is responsible for preaching His proclaimed Word so that all will be able to hear the Good News of forgiveness and salvation in Jesus. Take some time to think of how that should look to the world as we exercise that authority here at First St Johns.
The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Shalom and Amin.