Saturday, January 26, 2013

Epiphany 3

27 January 2013
Epiphany 3
Luke 4:14-21
Set Free

The occasion for Jesus’ first sermon was in the synagogue in His own hometown.  Jesus announces to His hearers that He has been anointed to do the work of God. Jesus finds His purpose in life fulfilled in the words of Isaiah the prophet of old.
At the center of His message is verse 19: “the acceptable year of the Lord.”  This “acceptable year” was certainly the year of Jubilee, proclaimed every 50 years. It was the year when debts were cancelled, slaves were freed and family inheritances were restored. Jesus sees His life’s mission to redeem and release the people from bondage. The program of release was the good news to all who were oppressed, afflicted and bound. This morning we see Jesus who releases people bound.
I.                    The poor in spirit find freedom in the Gospel.
A.      It is the gospel alone that frees us.
1.      Clean living won’t do it. How so? How clean do you have to be? Just a little bit pious? Just a little above average? By whose standard do we measure your Word? And if it is by God’s standards can you keep every point of the Law?
2.      Neither can ignoring sin free us. An antinomian attitude in our world today, which lives by the axiom “anything goes” and “don’t ask...don’t tell” and “if it feels good do it” and “when in Rome...” This self-evident truth concludes: “never criticize!”
B.      The message of the gospel is all we need to set us free.
1.      We need to be set free from sin – this enslaves us all. The sin of Adam has been passed down to each passing generation and the total corruption of our corrupt nature is played out by our thoughts, our words and our actions.
2.      We need to be set free from death – this will one day claim us all. The Scriptures are quite clear, “It is appointed for man once to die and after that comes judgment.”
3.      We need to be set free from the power of the devil – who tempts and accuses seeking to destroy us. “Be of sober {spirit,} be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (NAS) 1 Peter 5:8
Christians find their freedom in the message of the Gospel. It is the Son of God, Jesus Christ who has freed us.
II.                 Captives to sin find release in Christ.
A.      We must first realize sin’s sway.
1.      It has a death grip upon us. A grip we can never get away from. We can fight against it, we can try to use will power, but we can never get away from the temptation, and the pull, and the enticement of sin.
2.      Sin simply renders us powerless. Mark the scripture passage well, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” 1 John 1:8
B.      It is Christ alone who has saved us. Thus, the passage concludes, “but if we confess our sin, God is faithful and just, and will forgive our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
1.      He releases us from both fear and doubt. “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” – Psalm 27:1 There is much today for people to fear. What is fear? Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. Courage is fear, which has said its prayers. When the Lord is your light and your salvation, you shall not fear. When the Lord is the strength of your life, you will have nothing to be afraid.
2.      He not only frees us but also establishes us to be his own to live under Him in His Kingdom and to serve Him in righteousness, innocence and blessedness.
Christ has set us free by the power of His saving Gospel. The result? Now we have hears to hear and eyes to see.
III.               Those once blinded by sin have received sight through the light of Jesus Christ.
A.         Possibly best expressed in the hymn of the Church “Amazing Grace”. Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind, but now I see.
1.      We are wretches, by nature blind, dead and enemies of God.
2.      But now we have found freedom in Christ.
B.         The Light of Christ has now dawned. That’s what this Epiphany season is all about.
1.      Christ – predicted to come in the season of Advent.
2.      Christ’s coming fulfilled at Christmas.
3.      In Epiphany, we now “see Him”
The Gospel and Christ have freed us. Once blinded by sin we now see – He has truly liberated and freed us!
IV.              Those oppressed by their own sin or by the sins of others find liberty in Christ.
A.                 Our own sin can and will condemn us. Rising up to rob us of peace and security.
B.                 The sins of others can render us defenseless.  Yet has He has empowered us He enables us to forgive also. The 5th Petition is a hard prayer to pray. It must be experienced. “And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” As He has forgiven us, He teaches us also how to forgive.
In Christ, you are truly free indeed! For 175 years, this message of sin and grace has been at the center of all that we do. It’s what gives us purpose and meaning in this world, it’s the message we need to hear. May we, by God’s grace found to be faithful – faithful to the Lord, faithful to His Word, faithful to each other! In Jesus’ Name! Amen!

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