Text: Luke 4:14-22
Date: Wednesday in Advent I + 12/6/06
Zion Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Detroit
This week of the First Sunday in Advent Holy Church has begun again to tell the whole story of salvation. Though it takes six months from Advent through Pentecost just to sketch the details of our Lord’s earthly ministry and another six months to draw out the implications of it, there is one main theme, one fundamental truth, one purpose whether we speak of Jesus as the Babe of Bethlehem, the preacher of Galilee, the miracle-worker of Capernaum, the sacrificial Lamb of Jerusalem, the risen Lord on a road to Emmaus, the ascending King of Bethany, or the Lord of heaven and earth who will return on the Day of Judgment, and that is, as we Lutherans have said it, “the justification of the sinner by God’s grace through faith alone in Jesus Christ.” In a word, salvation—salvation from our captivity to death, the blindness of sin, the broken heart of separation from the God of life; salvation to be the people of God. This is the significance of our Lord’s first Sabbath day sermon in the synagogue of his hometown of Nazareth. When he was handed the scroll of the prophet Isaiah, he carefully turned to the place we today call chapter 61, reading it as the grand summary of everything he was about to preach, teach and perform from beginning to end.
And salvation didn’t have to wait until he would finish his earthly road, for when he said, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your ears” it was because He was present. He is, as the Apostle John wrote in the Apocalypse, “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” [Rev. 13:8 (KJV)]. All who are saved, whether in the Old Testament times or the New, are saved in the same way, by faith alone in the promised salvation of God through the Messiah, the Christ of God. In Christ the eons of time collapse and all things find their meaning in Him. For it is written, “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things,” and it was the purpose of the Father “to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth,” and “to put all things under his feet,” giving Christ “as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all” [Rom. 11:36 (KJV); Eph. 1:10, 22-23 (ESV)].
His “call document” from Isaiah 61 (with a phrase spliced in from Isaiah 58:6) begins by identifying Himself with the Holy Trinity: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.” At His baptism the Holy Spirit descended upon him and the Father’s voice proclaimed him the Christ who would accomplish the Trinitarian plan of salvation. The essence of the Gospel is in the word “release,” often translated “forgiveness.” The forgiveness or release Jesus came to bring is liberation from the bondage of sin, sickness, and Satan. This release or forgiveness continues to come to you and to everyone through the commanded and authorized preaching of His one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church throughout the world to this day. The healing of the blind and the broken refers to absolution in the fullest sense, encompassing the resurrection of the body. The Good News is that in Jesus all of creation has been freed from the bondage of its fallenness.
“Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” For “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” [Romans 10:17 (ESV)]. And what about tomorrow? Keep hearing “with patience” as St. James wrote, “You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand” [James 5:8 (ESV)].