Posted by: pastormikemcdowell | December 19, 2015

December 19, 2015 “The Door of Freedom”

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon MeBecause He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poorHe has sent Me to proclaim release to the captivesAnd recovery of sight to the blind,To set free those who are oppressed, To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.” (Luke 4: 18-19)

Good Morning and blessed Day to you all.

Today marks the conclusion of the third week of Advent. The celebration of the Christian season of Advent has two aspects to it. The first is one of personal anticipation and preparation in being ready to celebrate the coming of the Messiah Jesus in a manger in Bethlehem. The second element is the expectation and longing for Christ to come again – this time in great power and glory, and for our hearts and lives to be equally ready for this great event. I can think of no greater scriptural picture of Advent than this one from Luke’s Gospel. Jesus, having overcome Satan’s temptations in the wilderness, returned to his hometown of Nazareth and went to the meeting place, as was his custom. He was called on to read from Isaiah’s prophesy. He found the place where it was written,

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor.
He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives,
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set free those who are oppressed,
To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.”

Concluding the reading, he then made a most astounding claim. In the presence of family and friends and all who had gathered for worship, he said, “You’ve just heard Scripture make history. It came true just now in this place.” Of course, he was speaking of himself as the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophetic words, claiming to be Messiah! He was the One on whom God’s Spirit rested. He was the one chosen to preach the message of God’s good news to the poor. He was the One who would set prisoners free, heal the blind, bind up the wounds of the bruised, battered, and brokenhearted. God’s great Advent, proclaimed hundreds of years before through the prophets, was being fulfilled right before their eyes. And what was their reaction to this astonishing proclamation? Here’s what happened: “That set everyone in the meeting place seething with anger.They threw him out, banishing him from the village, then took him to a mountain cliff at the edge of the village to throw him to his doom, but he gave them the slip and was on his way.” (Luke 4: 28-30) The longed-for Hope of the World had come to unlock their prison cells and they chose instead to stay behind their bars and rail against their liberator!  

Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, no stranger to prison doors himself, said this of Advent:

“A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes – and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent.”

He understood better than they of his hometown that Jesus was the keeper of the keys to true freedom. He, and only he, was the Chosen One who would set the captive heart free. Are you still imprisoned by sin? Call on the One anointed by God the Father to set the captives free. He is the keeper of the keys, and will set you free! Let’s pray!

Blessed Lord; Unlock the prison door of sin and suffering. Set free the captives that they might find their freedom in You, for you alone hold the key. You alone can open the door. Hope has come! Praise be Your Holy Name! Amen!

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