Episode 1. The Reason Jesus Came
So many people on this planet – a couple of billion in fact – believe in the love of God in Jesus. But whilst many know about that love, only a fraction experience that love day by day. Strike me that that’s a tragedy. Imagine what this world would be like if all the people […]
So many people on this planet – a couple of billion in fact – believe in the love of God in Jesus. But whilst many know about that love, only a fraction experience that love day by day. Strike me that that’s a tragedy. Imagine what this world would be like if all the people who believed in Jesus, experienced the love of Jesus. Just imagine!
I don’t know if you remember but last week we started talking about love, the sort of love that never fails, God’s love. See I think this is important, I mean really important for us to wrap our hearts and our minds and our souls around God’s love. Because it’s a startling love, a surprising love, the sort of love that we rarely find, if ever, here on this earth.
It’s not to say that other people don’t love us, I know my wife loves me and I love her, we’ve promised ourselves to one another for the rest of our lives. And there’s the thing, one day that love will end, one day one of us is going to die and in the meantime we’re going to love each other imperfectly because we’re human.
But God’s love never fails. He never leaves us, He never forsakes us. And with all the bumps and the bruises and the scars that we’ve been left with as we’ve travelled along that bumpy road we call life it’s something that you and I really need. We all have fears and insecurities, okay some more than others but we all have them but God doesn’t want us to be afraid, He doesn’t want us to be insecure. Have a listen to this, it comes from 1 John chapter 4, verses 16 to 19:
God is love and those who abide in love abide in God and God abides in them. There’s no fear in love but perfect love casts out fear for fear has to do with punishment and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We loved because he first loved us.
I love that. God is love and if we abide, if we dwell in fellowship with God we’ll know that love. And get this, the perfect love of God casts out all fear so we don’t have to be afraid anymore or insecure anymore or worried anymore because it turns out that love, perfect love, God’s love is like a healing balm. God’s love when we live in it, dwell in it, abide in it, sets us free from fear.
You know that sounds fantastic and if its true well we all need that. So here’s the plan, let’s spend a bit of time exploring this healing love of God today, in fact over the next few days on the program because this love thing is so important, knowing that we’re safe and secure in God’s love is just so important, isn’t it?
Well it is because healing and restoration is precisely the reason that Jesus came to this earth. The very first time He got up to speak in a Synagogue or at least it’s the first time following His launch into His public ministry, He chose to read from what we now call the Old Testament from the book of the prophet Isaiah and this is how it all went down. Luke chapter 4 beginning at verse 16:
When Jesus came to Nazareth where he had been brought up he went to the Synagogue on the Sabbath day as was his custom. 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 bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lords favour.’ And Jesus rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of all the Synagogue were fixed on him, then he began to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing’.
You see His whole pitch, His whole reason that He came and He starts off with the poor. Can I tell you? The poor were despised and marginalised and ostracised. The poor weren’t by and large the ones filling the Synagogue that day in Nazareth but He came, He came to bring them, them the poor good news. Release to the captives, people in prison, people no one bothers with and sight for the blind, they were beggars out there on the street. No welfare cheques in the mail for them, they were the lowest of the low, freedom for them.
The very first thing that Jesus gets up and says about Himself is He came to bring healing to the least of the least and isn’t that often how we feel? Sure there may well be poor people, imprisoned people, blind people, oppressed people listening to this message today, in fact I know without a shadow of any doubt that there are and their ears are listening keenly to what’s going on here.
But what about to those who don’t quite fall into those categories? What about those who are comfortable middle class suburbanites commuting on the tube in London or driving home in Chicago or resting on a beach somewhere in the Pacific, what about those people? There are plenty of those people listening today too.
Well that passage from the Book of Isaiah that Jesus read there actually in full has a lot more to say. It talks of binding up the broken hearted, proclaiming liberty to the captives, releasing prisoners, comforting all those who mourn, to give us a garland, a wreath of flowers instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit, to repair the devastations of the past.
Now why wasn’t it quoted in full by Luke? Because those guys lived in a oral culture and so he quoted what he remembered but you can be sure that if Jesus was reading from chapter 61 of the Book of Isaiah then this is what He read, this is what He said about Himself, all those things. He came to bring healing and restoration to you and to me.
Just let that sink in. Is any of us broken hearted today? Do any of us have devastations of the past that need rebuilding? Is anyone today mourning? Does anyone need the oil of gladness? Does anyone need the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit? Well? I think we pretty much covered everybody there with that list.
Does that mean that Jesus only came for the losers? No. That’s what the sceptics will tell you. The point is, we all have things happen to us along the way that require healing. Things that sometimes are our own fault but other times they’re not our fault and we’re left with wounds and scars. This is universal. Rich and poor, black and white, Jesus came for all of us. He came to bind up the broken hearts among us.
Can I tell you? As I look back to a devastating time in my life when I was broken hearted the only person who could make any difference in that place was Jesus. Nothing anybody else said or did had any impact whatsoever and that’s how often it is. The only thing that can make an impact, the only thing that can heal us is the healing balm of Gods own love. Totally accepting, totally loving, totally faithful, totally powerful beyond measure to drive out darkness and fear.
And you know the sad thing, so many people don’t believe that this love is actually for them, it’s as though it’s for others but surely not for me because I must come somewhere low down on the pecking order. I mean, surely God would go to the super spiritual people before me, surely God wouldn’t have time to get as far down the list as me. Which is why when Jesus stood up for that very first time in His public ministry He read from the Book of Isaiah and declared for all the world that He came for the poor, the oppressed, the captives, the blind, the broken hearted, the least of the least.
What He was saying is that He came for everyone including you and me and friend that’s why over the next couple of days we’re going to meet two of these people, a leper and a woman with a terrible sickness. Both people who laid hold of Jesus’ healing love. Both people who should have been so far down the pecking order that Jesus wouldn’t even have noticed them. Because I believe that Jesus, through His Word, wants His love to become real in your life.