“Good News For All The People”—Daily Reflections for Advent 2016
THE TWENTY-SEVENTH DAY OF ADVENT, December 23rd
When he 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 Lord’s favour.”
And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
“Why did Jesus come?” That is a frequent question this time of year, and a subject for many Christmas sermons. Asking why Jesus came was the very question my late wife Melodee posed to our two young sons as she prepared to tell them she was going to die. When doctors told Melodee and me that she had about six weeks to live, she said she wanted to be the one to tell them. I never heard a more beautiful answer as to why Jesus came than that night she talked to our two sons. She said, “Jesus came that all us of might forever live with Him. It is my time to go and live with Jesus.”
Today’s Scripture is Jesus Himself telling us why He came. It happened as Jesus delivered His first recorded sermon, in which He gave His mandate for the work ahead. Jesus was handed the scroll of Isaiah and He chose today’s Scripture. He read the passage and applied it to Himself as the one long foretold by Isaiah “to bring good news”. Jesus declared after reading the Scripture: “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
As Jesus told of His life mission to bring good news to the “poor…captives…blind…oppressed”, He was likely speaking on both a literal and spiritual level. He knew that there were people who were financially poor but spiritually rich, and people who were financially rich but spiritually poor. He opened the eyes of the physically blind and the eyes of the spiritually blind. What Jesus was saying is that He came to fulfill God’s promises and bring good news to every need. Dallas Willard catches the essence of Jesus’ words:
Notice who is among those listed by Jesus using the words of the prophet: the poor, the captive, the blind, and the oppressed. Clearly this is the same type of list found in the Beatitudes of both Matthew and Luke. It is a list of people humanly regarded as lost causes, but who yet, at the hand of Jesus come to know the blessing of the kingdom of the heavens. (The Divine Conspiracy)
Jesus brings good news to all “people humanly regarded as lost causes” in any sense. What that meant for a young mother dying from cancer was the sure promise of resurrection. What that means for a person bound and imprisoned by guilt is knowing God’s full acceptance. What that means for a person oppressed by addiction is being set free. Jesus loves people just as they are, and He brings good news to any human need, literal and spiritual. The good news of Jesus Christ is God’s action and power for anyone, anywhere who is in need.
Jesus could have been born in wealth and comfort, but chose instead to be born with animals. He was raised in a poor family and was poor throughout His life: “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (Luke 9:58). Jesus knows need, He knows brokenness; He identifies intimately with any who are hurting.
“Why did Jesus come?” That night as I listened to Melodee, I understood at a deeper level why. Jesus didn’t come to bring us Christmas trees, decorations, bright lights and easy times. Jesus came to bring us the good news of power, joy, peace, and resurrection to life forevermore.
- How would you explain to a child why Jesus Christ came?
- What need or brokenness do you want to bring to Jesus? Take a few moments and talk to Him about it.