Non-Profit Internet Source for News, Events, History, & Culture of Northern Frederick & Carroll County Md./Southern Adams County Pa.


Who is God

Part 7: Humble Beginnings

Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church

We love kingdoms and weddings. It’s amazing. Almost all the great children’s stories, fairy tales, and kids’ movies are built around the themes of kingdoms and weddings.

And it starts when we’re little. And there’s this building anticipation. And every once in a while it really happens, these themes do come together… kingdoms and weddings… like William and Kate right... and when they do, the whole world stops to see...

Well next week we’re going to investigate just such a time as that in Luke 19:28–44 where we see that Jesus Christ is Lord, King, and Savior. I want to encourage you not to miss this last message. The conclusion of our series "Who is God?" Same time, same place, as they say.

Today in Part 7 of Who Is God we will look at Luke 4:14–21; and Jesus and the Holy Spirit. It’s an important text because it tells us about Jesus’ early ministry. It’s an important text because like so many people and ministries, Jesus’ began very simply, with very "Humble Beginnings"

It’s interesting that this is actually the eighth year of our church since we first began gathering together. And looking back at our first meetings in Fairfield, renting the Mennonite church, remember on Saturday nights, I think in July of 2005, things were so simple, very humble, a handful of people. And I can still remember our first services, it was like sixteen men, women, and children, sixteen people were the church.

In the following years, God has been so gracious to us and I’ve been mindful of God’s grace as we’ve been preparing for the church’s official launch, February 10th. I’ve been mindful of God’s grace as I’ve been studying all week, as I looked at how Jesus’ ministry, like all ministries, started out so simple and humble. And Jesus began his ministry, preaching and teaching the Scriptures as a Spirit-led, Spirit-filled Bible teacher. He began his ministry, not in a big way, not in a big town, but in the small towns around Galilee. He didn’t begin his ministry with large crowds but with small crowds… not with temples or stadiums but with little synagogues. And here’s how Luke records it after speaking with the eyewitnesses who actually heard Jesus preaching and teaching…

Beginning at verse 14, "Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.

He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing." NIV

1. The Preacher

And so this is the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. We don’t really know long this period was, but what we do know is that when Jesus began his ministry on the earth, he came preaching and teaching. I find that to be encouraging because I began the church with a desire to teach the Word of God, to preach the truth about Jesus, and we have continued to be a Bible-teaching church. This is absolutely central, essential, and foundational for all that we believe. And for me this is so encouraging, personally as your pastor, to see that Jesus did preach… and teach… and heal… and feed… and serve… and that we by His grace through the Holy Spirit, do all of that as well. And just like Jesus, everything begins with the preaching of God’s Word... just like we read this morning from Nehemiah chapter 8… just like Ezra stood before the people and read the Word of God. Jesus’ ministry began and was sustained by the preaching and teaching of the Old Testament.

Therefore it is my sincere hope that the Scriptures would matter to you… that hearing the Word of God would matter to you… and that you would hold preaching in high regard, because "faith comes from hearing" the Word of God (Romans 10:17). And you know we’re in a day when people would rather have dialogue than they would monologue. But don’t you know… the preaching of the Word of God and the faith that comes from hearing is monologue.

So the way we do it here at Christ’s Community Church is that after we’ve heard the Word of God we gather together in fellowship… we eat together so that we may continue in dialogue… so we can talk about the Scriptures… so we can discuss our mission as the church... You know, we want to work through our issues; we want to work through our concerns and frustrations together as God’s people. But everything is ultimately riding on one thing… and that is the preaching of God’s Word.

You see, if God came to earth and made it his first priority to establish his ministry through Bible preaching and teaching, then we simply want to follow in the example of Jesus. And you can pray for me that by God’s grace, like Jesus, I would always be filled by the Spirit... that I would always present to you anointed Bible teaching… and that I would always ensure that Christ’s Community Church remains a church that loves Jesus, loves the Bible, loves people, and wants to see people meeting the God of the Bible.

And so we read that God becomes a man and filled with the Holy Spirit… He is preaching in small towns… He is preaching in synagogues… And my guess is that that day the synagogue was packed. It wasn’t just a visiting rabbi, this was their homeboy. It’s Mary and Joseph’s son. It’s Jesus. He’s one of their own, they’ve seen him grow up, now he’s educated, now he’s a rabbi… and not only that, but he’s been preaching and teaching in the area and they’ve heard of his great ability. So there is a great buzz… they’re not used to having people of substance in their midst. They’ve heard about his preaching. It’s different. Crowds are coming out. People are walking for miles. The synagogue is full.

2. The Kingdom

And so Luke tells us in verse 16, here comes this popular, new, preacher, named Jesus… "He stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place…" So Jesus stood up... He stands in authority as the rabbi… the teacher… and the scroll of Isaiah is handed to him. Now you have to picture this, to find the place that he wants to read, Jesus has to roll out the scroll.

You could just imagine yourself wanting a paper towel in the kitchen and you grab the end of the roll, but you don’t want that one, you want the 61st sheet. So here is Jesus taking the end of the scroll and here is chapter one and he’s going to read a bit of Isaiah chapter 61, so it’s near the very end of the sixty-six-chapter scroll of Isaiah and he’s rolling it out, meaning he knows exactly where to go because he knows the Scriptures.

But it’s not like when my little girl Olivia goes into the bathroom and unrolls the toilet paper… you know and you’ve got paper all over the floor… and now someone has to roll all that back up again. It’s not like that… as Jesus opens the ancient scroll of Isaiah, he is unrolling and rolling at the same time. And if you’ve done any building or surveying and you’ve worked with the plans you know what I mean… it’s a big roll.

So in verse 17 it says, "Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news..."

And He does… He speaks of the dawning of a new kingdom… His kingdom… a kingdom where he takes care of the poor and the prisoners and the blind and the oppressed. Then, in verses 20 and 21: "he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began teaching by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."

So Jesus sits down to preach and teach. And there’s this expectation… this anticipation by these people who are poor, how will our lives change? By these people who are prisoners, how will we be set free? By these people who are blind, how will we see? By these people who are oppressed, how will we be released? And Jesus rolls up the scroll and I am assume rather dramatically says, "Today… today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."

He says that because He is the Kingdom and Glory… Jesus is the fulfillment of all Scripture… In John’s Gospel where Jesus was on trial in chapter 18, Pilate says, "You are a king, then!" Jesus answered him, "You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth..." (John 18:37)

Truth is… It’s all about Jesus… It’s all about His Kingdom!

Yet here in the synagogue… a prophet hadn’t spoken for four hundred years… the rabbis were debating, has God abandoned us? Has the Holy Spirit left us? Is God not pleased? No prophet had preached. No book of the Bible has been written. No Spirit-filled servant of God had shown up for four hundred years, and Jesus says, "Today, in this little room, this little town, with these people, the Spirit of the Lord is upon me. I am the Christ. I am the anointed one. All of this is fulfilled in me. I’m your riches. I’m your freedom. I’m your sight. I’m your knight in shining armor. That’s me. It’s all about me" Jesus says.

3. The Power

And so verse 21 ends there… We don’t know what the rest of His teaching was. But, one of the words that just continually rang in my ears as I was preparing for this message is this, "Today." Isn’t that amazing? The very first word of Jesus’ sermon, "Today." You see there is power in God’s Word. It’s not that you give your sins to Jesus some day. You give your sins to Jesus today. You don’t commit yourself to regularly going to church someday… but today. You don’t give yourself to reading your Bible someday… but today. You don’t determine that at some point in your future you’ll overcome your addiction… your pride… your slavery… your identity issues… that day is today. You don’t confess the deep dark secrets of your heart someday… that day is today. And the Bible says, if today, this day, you hear his voice, for your souls sake, for your salvation, and for your joy… "do not harden your hearts" (Hebrews 4:7)

You see number one, Christianity is not built on an economic model where you get what you pay for. Christianity is built that if Jesus is your God, he gives you grace thoroughly, completely, equally, and fully. And it’s amazing that in our day, we live in a world where you are what you drive, what you make, or what you wear, and Jesus says, "I have good news for the poor. I’m here to atone for your sins. I’m here to love you and be your God. You don’t have riches now, but I am giving myself to you as the greatest gift of all."

Number two. He speaks of those who are prisoners. It’s amazing that in our day, this concept of slavery is not really believed. I want you to know that there still are captives, slaves being held, around the world. You see the sex industry is slavery. Prostitution is slavery… those who look at pornography… you’re contributing to modern-day slavery. And let me take it up another level, there’s another form of slavery that is self-selected. For some, drugs are a slave master, for others it’s alcohol, for others its people’s opinions. For some its gambling, entertainment, foolishness, high-risk behavior, or compulsive spending. Those are slave masters that we choose… they rule over us… they control our lives.

And Jesus says that he has come to what? …to proclaim freedom for the prisoners. He wants the captives released. He wants the slaves set free. And he particularly wants us to know that those who are addicted, abused, molested, raped, manipulated or controlled have been set free. That’s what he says.

He goes on to talk about those who are blind. Jesus actually gave sight to the blind. Jesus heals. We believe that! And he does this spiritually too. People who are blind to the things of God… people who don’t see the goodness of God in Christ…God opens blind eyes and I pray that each of you have had that experience…

You see there was a day when you didn’t understand who Jesus was… you didn’t know that he was God… you didn’t know that he lived the life that you couldn’t… to die the death you should’ve… to give the gift you couldn’t earn… you were just blind. You may have heard about Jesus… knew something about Jesus… or your parents took you to church… but you didn’t see Jesus… your eyes weren’t fixed on him. You were blind to him and maybe it was a self-selected blindness. The Bible was taught, the church was there, and you just closed your eyes, you chose blindness. And God opens, Jesus opens blind eyes to understand the Scriptures and to know and to love and to belong to him.

Then He goes on to say, "to release the oppressed," and the oppression here are those who are abused. This is the girlfriend whose boyfriend, every time she gets out of line… well he puts her back in line. This is the mom who’s got a bunch of little kids and lives under that threat of an abusive husband. This is the one who is controlled and abused, sexually, physically, verbally, emotionally, and spiritually… it’s horrible.

Jesus came to "release the oppressed." His Kingdom is unraveling before our eyes… one day it will be fully unveiled… and until then, by God’s grace we see broken, devastated lives put back together by the Holy Spirit. So it is in Jesus name that I proclaim the poor being blessed... the prisoners set free... the blind seeing… and the oppressed rejoicing. Today is a new day; it’s a great day. Today let’s love Jesus. Today may those who’ve been suffering but growing spiritually be encouraged to continue. And may those who have never met the God of the Bible begin a whole new life and relationship with Him. Holy Spirit we can do nothing, you can do anything. So we invite you to have your way with us, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Read past sermons by Pastor John Talcott

Learn more about the Christ's Community Church