Jack Graham - Why Jesus Came?
We now open God's Word to the Gospel of Luke, chapter 4. This is our series called TELL ME THE STORY OF JESUS. And we're going to be connecting with the scenarios in Scripture found in the four Gospels which, of course, tell the story of Jesus. John ended up saying at the close of his book, the Gospel of John, that "I suppose if all that Jesus did was recorded, couldn't contain the books in all the libraries of the world". And so we're just getting started telling the story of Jesus. And I never get tired of telling this wonderful story, the greatest story ever told.
Today from Luke's Gospel chapter 4, we're going to be talking about the fame of the Lord Jesus, then the claim of the Lord Jesus, and then the aim of the Lord Jesus. "Why He Came" is the title of this message. And what you're about to see and hear is a message from Jesus Himself in which He delivers His identity and His mission on earth. It's a sermon that is delivered by Jesus. It is the grace of God delivered by the one who brought this great grace.
And so beginning at verse 14: "Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country. And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all. That is the fame of Jesus. More about that in just a moment. And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom (note that) he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and 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".
And here we see His aim, why He came, and His claim, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim the 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". Or grace, salvation. "And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed (fastened) on him". Imagine that. Locking eyes with Jesus. Looking at His face and experiencing His presence. That was the privilege of these at the synagogue that day.
And with every eye fastened on Him: "He began to say to them", here's the sermon, "'Today'", key word, "'Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.' And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth". Jesus delivers not good advice, great advice, but good news. It is the good news of God's grace, the good news of God's favor. And He's speaking to all humanity, broken and bound by sin, and He brings hope to troubled hearts. The good news. They were astonished at His words, and one translator gives it at these words of sheer grace. Grace that is marvelous. Jesus was already well-known as a preacher and a teacher of the word of God.
When we catch up with Jesus here in Luke chapter 4, He's already been on the road for a year and a half. All around the Sea of Galilee and the small towns and villages and the cities that surrounded the Sea of Galilee, the Galilee. Beautiful place to this very day. And there were approximately 240 small towns and villages around the Galilee. Most of these would have had a synagogue, probably all of these, and some had multiple synagogues. So Jesus was going from place to place, outdoors as well as indoors, and He is preaching this salvation. He was giving this message that we now hear at the synagogue in His hometown, His boyhood home of Nazareth. Jesus as an evangelist, an itinerant preacher and teacher, is making His way all around these villages.
Again, I say for about a year and a half. By now when He comes back to His hometown, this hometown boy has made good and He's somewhat of a religious rockstar. People everywhere were listening to Him and marveling at Him and the grace that was pouring out from His lips, the sheer grace and the teaching of God's Word. And the little children heard Him as well. We've been showing you a few clips from The Chosen because we think that's a good thing for you and families to experience. There are two episodes, or rather, two seasons, and now there's a third one coming out. My friend, Dallas Jenkins is the producer, the executive producer, and there's such great depth and empathy and drama in this.
And here's a great scene regarding, maybe this happened on the road with Jesus with the little children with the very text that we have here today. Jesus: Someday soon you'll understand all of what I am saying to you. But you ask an important question, Abigail. What is my reason for being here? The answer is for all of you. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me. He has anointed Me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty for the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, and proclaim the year of the Lord's favor".
Child: Isaiah. Jesus: Isaiah. Yes, Isaiah chapter 61 is the text that Jesus chose to deliver His message. And this message was delivered in the power of the Holy Spirit. And this is the secret, if you will, of His success. This is the magnetism, this is the miracle of His life. This small town boy, out of Nazareth who grows up and now delivers the good news of salvation so that the whole world could hear. And everybody is loving it so far. From town to town and place to place people of all kinds and all ages are hearing Jesus and He's just bringing them into Himself. They're amazed.
Now let me tell you a little bit about synagogues because you need to know something about it in the life and times of Jesus, and even synagogues today. But frankly, once the temple was destroyed in the Old Testament period, then the synagogues, as men would gather in the synagogues in small places, small rooms and typically the same thing happened again and again. There would be the singing of hymns, primarily from the psalms, there would be the reading of Scripture, and notice here when Jesus gave the Scripture, He stood, and this is why in many churches to this day people stand in honor of the reading of God's Word. That's a good habit; that's a good custom.
Notice that as He's reading the Scripture, after the reading of Scripture from an Old Testament passage: first, the Law (this happens in every synagogue service) the reading from the first 5 books of the Old Testament, the Pentateuch, the Law of Moses; and then from the prophets, primarily the major prophets of Jeremiah and Isaiah and Ezekial. But from the other prophets as well. And also from the writings which are the Psalms and Proverbs and so on. But what is clear to me in this passage of Scripture is our Lord was, of course, fully literate and familiar with the Scriptures. After all, He did write them! But now as a young man, 30 years of age, He would have grown up in this synagogue as a little toddler, as a little boy.
Synagogues were places where boys and girls were taught as well. They were like elementary schools in the community and it's a precursor if you will to educating, religious training, religious education in the church or in the synagogue. And so you would have that. It was also a place where judicial decisions were made among the people, but primarily it was a place of worship. And it was happening like this every Sabbath, which is the seventh day of the week. We worship on this, the Lord's Day, the first day in view of the empty tomb and the resurrection, but this is the sabbath; this is the seventh day. And the people would gather inside these small buildings and they would sing the songs, they would pray prayers, read the Scriptures and someone would deliver a message.
There was no fulltime preacher or fulltime rabbi in the synagogues, but someone who was capable, someone who was learned, someone who could was handed the scroll and delivered the Scripture and then delivered an exhortation or gave a sermon or gave a message. Does this sound familiar? Because the ancient Jewish form of worship in the synagogue is very similar to what we do to this very day in the church. And we sing songs, and we offer prayers and we read the Word and we preach the Bible, we give a message. Now Jesus came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets. So when Jesus is reading the Word of God from Isaiah 61 and then bringing a message, He is clearly linked to the Old Testament. Jesus loved the Bible. He quotes from it and alludes to it and affirms it again and again.
From the books of the Law, He quoted or alluded to all the books of the Law in His messages or in His conversations. He referred to most of the prophets and some of the writings. One of His personal favorites was Deuteronomy which He quoted 15 or 16 times; Isaiah which He quoted over 40 times; the Psalms which He quoted 13 times. He also referenced Daniel and Zechariah. Jesus references and quotes all 5 books of Moses which means that Jesus believed Genesis 1:1, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth". Yes, Jesus talked about the flood; He read about it in the first 5 books of the Bible. Jesus knew about the Exodus and the power of the miracles. Yes, Jesus grew up learning and listening to these stories.
Can you imagine little Jesus as a boy, This is Jesus' fame now, that we're talking about. Jesus well-known. He certainly was well-known among the people of Nazareth. They've known Him since He was a child. He's seen these men in the synagogue for many years. But now He comes back after this evangelism tour, His Bible-teaching tour and everybody knows Him. And so the man, the attendant, the head of the synagogue that day hands Jesus the scroll and it was the scroll of Isaiah. He was going to be reading the Old Testament portion of the synagogue service. And so Jesus opened it up to this passage. Isaiah chapter 61, and that is what He reads. And in this, He turns from His fame to His claim.
Look again at the passage. Jesus says, and I stop and emphasize it in verse 20, or verse 21: "Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing". And what was fulfilled? This is a Messianic prophecy! This is a description of the Messiah who would come and deliver His people! The bound, the broken, the blind, the bruised! Now the people probably in the synagogue that day, and certainly across Galilee and across Israel, they were expecting a political revolution. But Jesus did not come with a political revolution; He came with a spiritual revolution. And He's now explaining today you're seeing this fulfilled. He is saying, "I'm the one Isaiah is talking about! What you read in the Scripture is now in front of you." it is a radical claim!
And so then Jesus gives His aim. We've talked about His fame, His Messianic claim. And He would claim many times His equality with God the Father and His mission on earth as Messiah. Jesus said "Here's my aim". "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He's anointed Me to proclaim good news", (again, not good advice... good news, not religious advice... good news) "to the poor, to the liberty of the captives, recovering of sight to the blind, (this is all in verse 18 again) to set at liberty those who are oppressed and to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor". The sheer grace. Jesus is inviting and inclusive of all who are bankrupt, bound, blind, bruised and broken.
Everyone is included, including those marginalized in the culture and in society. Jesus came for four kinds of people. And you will find yourself in this passage because He came first for the bankrupt, for the poor. He said, "I've come for the poor". And the word that He uses for the poor is a word which means beggar, abjectly impoverished. He's really referencing a street person. Not the working poor. Jesus would have been among the working poor. But the poorest of the poor. Those who have absolutely nothing! "I've come for the poor who are so desperate; they have nothing". So maybe you're thinking, "Well, I'm not poor". He's not just talking about material poverty, but spiritual poverty! And every one of us, every single one of us are spiritually bankrupt without God by our first birth.
We have nothing to bring to God! We cannot earn or buy our salvation. We have nothing to bring to Him. Why? We are poor! We are left by the side of the road; we are living in deprivation and degradation apart from God! So when we humble ourselves and admit our emptiness and nothingness, that's when we become a candidate for this good news of Jesus Christ. So many people think that they're too good or they have too much. That's why rich people, it's hard to reach sometimes rich people and wealthy people with the Gospel because they love their riches and they love their wealth. You have to come to the place where you lay your pride in the ground and say, "I have nothing and I need Jesus with all my heart"!
But not only did He come for the bankrupt, but He came for the bound. He's talked about those, "He sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives". Captives here reference war criminals or people living in slavery. Captives here who are thrown in jail because they cannot pay their debts. Jesus said, "I came to emancipate people who are living in the chains of their sin and cannot pay their debt. And I've come to bring them liberty. I've come to let go the debt and to free the captives". It's a word here which literally means forgiveness. Liberty here is all about forgiveness; that God forgives the debt. The wages of sin, the consequences of sin, this debt is death. But Jesus came to go to the cross to do what we could never do for ourselves, which was to die on the cross for our sins, to rise again.
This is the Gospel, and therefore, to set us free! "He breaks the power", Wesley said, "He breaks the power of cancel sin; He sets the prisoner free. His blood can make the foulest clean; His blood avails for me". This is why Jesus came, to set the captive free. There is no greater bondage than the bondage of sin. Sin incarcerates the soul, imprisons the mind, enslaves the body. He also came not only for those who are bound and those who are beggars or bankrupt, but He came for the blind. And again, Jesus is speaking of those who are blind. Blinded by Satan, blinded and living in darkness. This is the world. This is you and me without the life of Christ. There's liberty in Jesus; there's life in Jesus; there's light in Him. We see this light.
Now life makes sense. And then He comes for the broken. This is His aim: To the bankrupt, to the bound, to the blind and to the broken. Look at it! "And recovering sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed". That is those who are beaten down by life. Life can be hard; life can beat you up. Many are oppressed and destressed and depressed in these days. Jesus said, "I came for you". Let me remind you that these are the people who were excluded in many ways from common culture, society and often from the synagogue, from the religious experience. They were cut off but Jesus said, "I've come for these".
The problem with people who are religious is they often, they don't think they're blind, they do think they're bruised, they don't think they're battered, they don't think they're broken, they don't think they're bankrupt. They look in the mirror; they say, "I'm enough; I can do it". No, you can't. You cannot save yourself. You cannot pull yourself up with your own bootstraps. You are not enough for God, but He is enough for you! Jesus is enough for you! And this is the message we need to tell the world! That we go to the people, the up and up, the up and out, the down and out, and the out and outs. Because it's all of us! Everybody needs Jesus! Jesus changed history and the one who changed history will change your life. If you will accept Him.
Here's the sad ending of this story, however. When Jesus said these things, they first loved it, they liked it. They liked His words, but then when He began to talk to them about their own need for salvation, and He gave two Old Testament references; He talked about the Syrian leper by the name of Naaman, a captain in the army, and also talked about a widow, a Gentile widow. So He's now talking about Gentiles coming into the family. Now He's talking about a Syrian coming into the family. And it enraged many of these people in the synagogue. And when they began to think about it, "Who does He think He is claiming that He's the Messiah"?
And a mob gathered. You can read about it in the end of Luke 4. And the mob gathered and they began to push Him out of the synagogue and down the streets and out to the edge of a cliff. You can go to a traditional place this day, the edge of the cliff where they would have taken Jesus to shove Him over the cliff and end His life. You see, that's what mobs do! They want to cancel you! Right? And so this religious mob wanted to cancel Jesus. They wanted to kill Jesus. They're ready to push Him over and we're not told how this happened, but something supernatural happened in my view. Because in the midst of this angry mob, the Scripture says he walked out through the midst of them. What happened to those people? They invited Jesus out; they rejected Jesus and He walked away. And the same thing can happen to you.
"He came unto His own and His own received Him not. But to as many as received Him to them gave He the power to be called the children of God, even to them who believe in His name". John 1:12. If you accept Jesus, you become a child of God, but if you reject Him, He walks away and you may never get another opportunity like the one that is today. Jesus said, "Today the Scripture is fulfilled in your eyes". So today... You are blinded in your sin, you are bankrupt without a future, you are bound with addictions and sinful behaviors, you are broken by life, but Jesus can change everything in your heart and in your eternal destiny today! Amen?