GoodNewsBy John Sprecher

Christmas, Easter, and Mother’s Day are often the services attended by more guests and seldom churched people than any other time of the year. What will they hear when they come to your church?

I have been reflecting on what Jesus read from Isaiah at His inaugural sermon in Nazareth recorded in Luke 4:17-19:

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 proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (ESV)

When we talk about the work of the Holy Spirit, we often think of the gifts of the Spirit, or speaking and praying in tongues. These are wonderful and necessary, but Jesus declares that the reason the Spirit was upon Him was to declare the Good News! The audience with whom Jesus shared this scripture didn’t celebrate that it had been “fulfilled in their ears” and instead tried to kill Him. This was not exactly the response one would expect from a message of hope. Sadly, many who will be in our pews may not try to kill the messenger, but are more likely to respond with passive indifference.

The real reason for the rejection is seen in a later conversation recorded in John 8 and summarized in verse 32 and 34, “And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin” (NKJV). The people in Jesus’ day had the audacity to claim that they had never been in bondage to any man while for the previous five centuries they had been occupied by one regime after another. Yet they claimed freedom of heart even while living under political occupation. Jesus puts His finger on the real issue, their sin, because it invades the conscience and imprisons the spirit.

Be encouraged that as you stand in the pulpit, hallway or classroom that the Spirit of the Lord is upon you to proclaim GOOD NEWS and true heart-freeing hope to all who will receive God’s greatest gift, Jesus.

John Sprecher is Pastor Emeritus of Rock Church in Rockford, IL and the Lead Elder of the FCA USA.

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