Robert Morris - Salvation
Hello everyone. How are you? Happy, happy, happy Resurrection weekend. I was just sitting down there during worship and thinking as we were singing "All glory to You, God," that we began on Easter weekend 22 years ago, and so Gateway Church is only 22 years old. And to think about all that God has done in 22 years, all the people who come to Christ and come to know the Holy Spirit as a Person and not as an "it" or a force, and come to know the Father as a loving Father, not a cruel Father, I'm just amazed.
We started in the Grapevine Hilton 22 years ago, our first service, but we couldn't afford it for two weeks, so we only did it for one. And the next weekend, we moved into what is now Uncle Julio's in Grapevine, which was back then a condemned dollar theater. People would not even pay a dollar to go there to a movie. And our first weekend, they wouldn't even give us a key. They said, the custodian will come and open the door for you. And he got drunk the night before and overslept. And so we broke in. We started, the second weekend of Gateway Church was with a felony of breaking and entering. And we had 180 the first weekend, and I preached so well that we had 68 the second weekend. So that's where we started, and I was thinking about that, and I was also thinking about a special group of people.
We have Gatherings, campuses, welcome everyone. But I just want to welcome, we are in 450 prisons in 45 states, and all of you who are inmates, we love you, and you are part of Gateway Church, and we welcome you. So I think the last two weeks were phenomenal. We had Joyce Meyer, Dr. Ben Carson, and then, as many of you know, that Saturday evening, my son James stood in for Doctor Carson and did a phenomenal job. And so I want to show you that message at some point. And if you didn't see Dr. Carson, we're going to figure that out. We have two more, we call them "in the can" that Joyce did on Sunday morning. I'll figure out how we're going to do that, but I want you to be able to hear those because I got to hear one of them this last week. I had them send me a link, and it was incredible.
So we just finished a series called The Gifts of Jesus out of Ephesians 4, and there are five. We went through five: apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, teacher. We are now going to begin a new series called The Ministries of Jesus, and there are five as well. And so it'll be a five-week series. I'll preach all of them, and the first one is Salvation, which fits perfectly for Easter. This is in Luke 4, and it's when Jesus goes to His home church where He was brought up and preaches His first sermon in His home church. Let me just remind you a little bit in Luke 3, He got baptized, water baptized by John the Baptist, and the Holy Spirit came on Him, and then He went into the wilderness, and He was tempted for 40 days. And then it says that the devil retreated after the third public temptation. There were many temptations, but the third one we know about. But the devil retreated for a more opportune time.
I just want you to know that Satan attacks during opportune times. You need to know that, especially when you're tired, physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually. And so think about, even though Jesus had fasted for 40 days, he was hungry, and what was Satan's first temptation? "Turn these stones into hot bread". Now "hot" is not in the Greek, but you can imagine if Jesus baked it, it would have been hot and fresh and had honey butter on the top of it. And that was the temptation after 40 days. And that's the way Satan is. Just to let you know, also, every time I fast sugar, they put Blue Bell on sale. So I've decided if you want, I'll start posting it when I'm fasting sugar, and you go to a store, it doesn't matter what store it is, Blue Bell will be on sale.
Alright, so, we're going to talk about His first sermon in His hometown, and He lists the five, what I call foundational ministries of Jesus. These are not the only ministries of Jesus; they're the five foundational ministries of Jesus. Alright? And again, we'll cover the first one this week, and that's Salvation. So here's my first point: His first sermon. Now, I need to let you know this is not His first sermon, it's His first sermon in His hometown. But I left it his first sermon because all of my points have three words. And so for some of you, it wouldn't matter, but for me, it matters that there's a balance to the message. Alright? So it's His first sermon. Here's the reason. I've heard many young preachers say this was his first sermon, but if they would have just backed up one verse, they would have found out it wasn't His first sermon.
And let me just back up two, Luke 4, verse 14. "Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit [that's from the wilderness] to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding region. And He taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all". So He had already taught in other synagogues, but this was His first one in Nazareth, His hometown. Alright? So verse 16. "So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read". So He had done this before, okay. But notice He stood up. I'll explain to you in a moment why they stood when they read the Torah. "And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah". So He was handed that book. It's because it was their chronological reading for that week. "And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written".
Most again believe He didn't just go to chapter 61. That was the reading for that week. And in a moment, we'll talk about just thinking about the mathematical odds of that. "And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed'", or "bruised" is a better translation from the Greek, "'...to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.' Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant [or the ruler of the synagogue] and sat down.'" I'll explain again why he sat down. "And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, 'Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.'"
Okay. This was the text of the day. They would stand to read the Torah. The Torah was in a box. The ruler of the synagogue would take it out, hand it to the person who was going to read the text, and then expound on it. They would always stand when they read it, so He stood up. They would hand it back to the attendant, or the ruler of the synagogue, and they would put it back in the box, and then he would sit down and then have the lesson, and he would explain it.
Now, I want you to... again the mathematical odds that in His hometown, the first sermon is Isaiah 61, one of the most famous messianic scriptures of the Bible. I heard about this guy in Texas, and his son was in high school, and his son was a mathematical genius. And his son came home and told him, "Dad, I've decided to take French as my foreign language elective". And his dad said, "Well, son, you're going to have to explain that to me. Especially because you're a math genius, I kind of figured you would use your math and figure the mathematical odds. In Texas, we have millions of people that speak Spanish. Probably most of the people in class are taking Spanish, so why aren't you taking Spanish"? He said, "Dad, I use math to make my decision". And he said, "What do you mean you did that"? He said, "Well, if I sign up for French, there will be 23 people in the class, and 22 are girls".
So I'm not sure math was the only reason he made that decision, but that's how he came to his conclusion. So the mathematical odds that Jesus reads this, and we have it recorded here, and He's announcing who He is. But you need to understand that this is not the sermon. This is the reading of the day. So He stands up to read, and then He sits down to expound the Scriptures, and all eyes were fixed on Him. "What's He going to say about this subject"? They knew He was a carpenter. They knew He was the son of a carpenter, Joseph. And they knew He had left His carpentry business and gone into the ministry, and He had been in Galilee, especially Capernaum, and He had been preaching in synagogues, and they were hearing back that it was amazing to hear Him teach and expand the Scriptures. So they were all excited to hear His first Scripture. And He gets to probably one of the most difficult passages, a messianic scripture, a scripture about the Messiah. What's He going to say? The eyes of all were fixed on Him. And then He shares this.
But you need to understand, let me give you a little bit more about why He spoke this sermon. Many people don't realize there was only one temple at that time in Israel, and it was in Jerusalem, and that's where they would offer sacrifices. But there were many synagogues. Now, there have been eight remainders of larger synagogues, at least my last count, maybe more, found, but nearly every city had a synagogue. A synagogue, you had to have at least 13 Jewish males over twelve. That's all you had to have. And the reason was it was where they would come together. It was simply a meeting place. It might not be a big, fancy place, but it's where they come together on the Sabbath, read the Torah, and one of the laity, in other words; in other words, just a small town, kind of like a Sunday school teacher. He was assigned to read the passage that day and to expound on that scripture. And it happened to fall to Jesus that day.
Again, the odds of this are just phenomenal. The ruler of the synagogue did not do this. He did not teach. As a matter of fact, here's what one commentator said about the ruler of the synagogue: "The ruler of the synagogue did not preach or expound Torah, which meant the Sabbath teaching and exposition fell to the laity, and on this occasion, to Jesus. The official in charge of a synagogue was the ruler of the synagogue, a position that included the responsibilities of", listen, "librarian, worship committee, school teacher, and custodian". Librarian, worship committee, school teacher, and custodian. It sounds like a lot of pastors of smaller churches, and I mean that complimentary. In other words, they have to do everything. They have to marry everyone, bury everyone, visit everyone, counsel everyone. Plus, though, they have to expound; they have to preach every weekend. They've got everything on their plate to do.
But Jesus was the lay person that it was just His day to do it. Okay? But His sermon was not the Isaiah 61 passage. It was what he said afterward. That was the Torah reading of the day. And then he preaches the shortest sermon probably in history. Eight words. "Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing". "Today this Scripture". In other words, He was telling them, "I am the Messiah"., "this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing". It reminds me, I thought about this, the shortest sermon. I thought about the shortest prayer I ever heard in my life. Y'all know Pastor Tim Ross. He'll be here in June. He's part of our preaching team. He prays short prayers. Y'all know how he prays a real short prayer? I heard one even shorter. I was a part of a presbytery team one time, and so, that's where you prophesy over people that you've never met.
And if you don't think that's scary, it can be scary. And I was being mentored by an older man in the faith, in his late 60s, maybe early 70s, and I was with another young man. I was in my early 30s. He was in his early 30s. The pastor was early 40s. And so we're standing in a circle, and the pastor said, "I'll start, and then, Robert, you pray". And then Bill was the only guy. "Bill, you pray, and then Leonard," it was Leonard Fox, "then you pray". Leonard was the spiritual father, and he was. And so the pastor prayed, I prayed, then Bill prayed, and then Leonard prayed this: "Lord, help! Amen". And I thought, you know, for God's been doing it this long, I ought to learn from that right there. That was a pretty good prayer. So Jesus' first sermon is eight words. Not the reading, that's just the reading of the day. Eight words. "Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing".
So now here's point number two: His first response. Point one was, His first sermon, in his hometown. Point two, his first response. Let's see how they responded. Verse 22. "So all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, 'Is this not Joseph’s son?'" Okay, that all sounds great to us, but it was not great. I need to explain it to you. Alright? First, I want to talk about, They marveled at the gracious words that came out of His mouth. Okay. This "marveled" means they were shocked. He took a messianic scripture. And He said, basically, "This is me". "I am the Messiah". And this "marveled" means they were shocked at the gracious words He said about Himself. Okay, think just for a moment about that. If I say gracious words about Debbie in my message, if I say, "Debbie is so kind and so wonderful and so beautiful".
You wouldn't think anything about it. But if I said, "I am so kind, so wonderful, and so handsome," you might marvel at the gracious words that I spoke about myself. Are you following me? That's what this means. They were shocked at how gracious He spoke about Himself. And it says they all bore witness to what He said. Now, again, we take that differently because it means something in our culture different. "I bear witness to what you're saying". That's not what it means. "Bore witness" means that they spoke or said something. They gave a testimony, but here's what they said: "Isn't this the carpenter"? That's what their testimony was. "This guy built my back deck". "This guy added a room on our house, and he's been going around preaching, and apparently he's had a little bit of success, and he's getting a big head because he comes in and reads a scripture we all know about the Messiah, and then says, 'Today this scripture is fulfilled. I mean, I've been having such good success, I want you to know, I think I'm the Messiah.'"
That's the way they felt. It was just amazing. Then he says this... Well, let me say, let me read it in another place first. So there's a parallel passage, two parallel passages, Matthew 13 and Mark 6. Alright? And they don't use the Luke passage, but we know that they're parallel passages. It says he came to His hometown where He'd been brought up. And this is what it says in Matthew 13:55, "Is this not the carpenter’s son"? Mark 6 says, "'Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?' So they were offended at Him. But Jesus said to them..". You've probably heard this before. "'A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, his own hometown, among his own relatives, and in his own house.'" So they were offended at Him.
Alright, now let me go back to Luke, and watch out what He says to them. "He said to them, 'You will surely say this proverb to Me, "Physician, heal yourself"!'" In other words, you're crazy. You need to heal yourself. You've been healing others; you need to get healed. "'"Whatever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in Your country".' Then He said, 'Assuredly, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own country.'" See, they're parallel passages. That's where He said it. "No prophet is accepted in his own country".
Now, and if you think that offended them, He then says the greatest offense He could possibly say. There was no greater offense that He could have said to these Jewish people than what He's about to say. Verse 25, next verse. "'But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the land'", now watch this, "'but to none of them was Elijah sent'", to no widow in Israel, "'except to Zarephath, in the region of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow'", a Gentile, by the way, "'and many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian'".
Naaman was not a Jew. He was a Gentile, and he was also a Syrian. He was actually the commander of the army that was invading Israel. Here's why this is so bad. There was a huge rift among Jewish people because the Old Testament prophesied that not only would the Messiah come from the Jewish people and save the Jewish people, but that the Gentiles would seek Him also. And they didn't want that. They didn't want the Gentiles saved. The Gentiles had enslaved them for years. It'd be like saying, "A Messiah is going to come and rescue you from these people who have abused you, and he's going to rescue your abusers, too". You might think, "You don't need to rescue them, Lord, just rescue me". That's the way they felt. So for Him to bring this up was a huge, huge offense. There are so many scriptures about the Gentiles seeking the Messiah.
I just want to show you one from the Old Testament, Isaiah 11:10. "And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse," Jesse was the father of David, "who shall stand as a banner to the people; for the Gentiles shall seek Him". Now, think about this. He stands up. He's the carpenter, comes back to His hometown. They come to hear the carpenter, and He reads about the Messiah, and then He says, "Today this Scripture is fulfilled". "I'm the Messiah". And they get mad. And then he says, I know a prophet is not accepted in his own country, but let Me just tell you something else about Me. There were many widows in Israel, and Elijah didn't go to any of them. He went to a Gentile. And there were many lepers in Israel, and Elisha didn't go to any of them. He went to a Gentile. Here's what he was saying. "I'm not just the Jewish Messiah. I'm the Savior of the world. I'm the Savior of the whole world".
And by the way, that's good news for most of us, and that made them very upset. And by the way, please hear me, I'm not saying anything against the Jewish people. You know that. We love Jewish people. We pray for Jewish people. We stand with Israel. I just spoke at the Jerusalem Prayer Breakfast. Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann introduced me. Senator Ted Cruz spoke. So, you know Gateway Church loves Israel and stands with the Jewish people. I'm not saying anything. What I am trying to say is that it doesn't matter what ethnicity you are, Jesus died for you, too. He is your Savior as well. And that's the announcement that He's making. He's making the announcement that, "I came for everyone".
Now, I told you the name of this point was His first response. I could have said His first alter call because I just want to show you His alter call, how it went, and how many people responded to his altar call. Luke 4, verse 28. "So all those of the synagogue". Wow, isn't that good? All of them responded, "when they heard these things, were filled with wrath and rose up and thrust Him out of the city and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff". Uh oh! His first sermon in His hometown went over great, as you can see. He's announcing something. He is announcing.
This is why this sermon is so important. The other passages He had expounded on, but when He got to Isaiah 61, He just happened to be in His hometown. It happened to be this passage. And he said, "I am the Messiah, and I'm not just the Jewish Messiah, I'm the Savior of the whole world. I want you to know that". By the way, it says He just passed through the midst of them, It said they were going to throw Him off a cliff, and He just walked right through the middle of them, just supernaturally, you know. A few years after this, well, after His resurrection, many years, actually, after His resurrection, they threw his brother James off the Southeast corner of the temple and then stoned him and beat him with clubs until they killed him. Some of you think, "No, the Bible says James was beheaded". That's James, the son of Zebedee, but not James, Jesus' brother. But they wanted to kill him. That was His response. So, why? Because He tells them who He really is. So, we're going to go through the five foundational ministries of Jesus.
And so point number three is His first ministry. And don't think, "Well, he just finished his introduction. Good gosh, we're not going to get out of here for". Okay, I plan all this out. Alright? So we're just going to cover this one. His first ministry is Salvation. Before I go back to Luke 4, let me read you Matthew 1:21, "And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for [because] He will save His people from their sins". So he makes two statements in Luke 4 that tell us that His first and primary ministry is Salvation. Verse 18, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor". Remember, I want to remind you the word "gospel" means "good news". It doesn't mean good advice. It means "good news". See, good advice is, You need to try to do better. Good news is, Jesus has already done it all for you, and you just have to believe. And it says He came to preach the gospel to the poor. I've told you this before, but I just have to remind you that's you.
I know you might think, "No, I have a good job. I'm doing real well". No, it's not talking about poor financially; it's all about poor in spirit. "Blessed are the poor in spirit". We are all bankrupt before God. Two primary Greek words for poor: penes and ptochos. Penes means the working poor. Some you might say, "That's me, I'm the working poor". Ptochos means the begging poor. It means the poor that cannot work. It means that if someone doesn't have mercy on them, they will die. That's the word Jesus uses. Every time he uses this, He says, You are the people that cannot earn your salvation. The only way you'll ever get to heaven is if I have mercy on you, And I've come to have mercy on you. So that's the first thing. Then he announces in verse 19, "to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord".
Now, this is huge in Scripture, and I don't have time to share it everywhere it is, but, "the acceptable year of the Lord". First of all, what year is it right now? It's not a trick. Y'all are like, "Yeah, you've done this before to us, so" 2022, but let me give you the full explanation, AD, which means "the year of our Lord". It is not 2022 CE, Common Era. It's not BCE, before common era and Common Era. It is, "Before Christ", and "the year of our Lord". It's very important to understand, it is the year of our Lord. Let me tell you why, because it is the acceptable year of our Lord. Look at this scripture. 2 Corinthians 6:2, "For He says: 'In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you.' Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation".
By the way, this is a messianic quote from Isaiah 49. And it actually says to restore Israel, just a few verses before this, and not only to restore Israel, but to bring sight to the Gentiles. So again, He's the Savior of the world. It includes everyone. It includes everyone: Jews, Gentiles, rich, poor, old, young, every ethnicity. I'm going to say it another way, The gospel is the most exclusive document in the world. Does I say exclusive? I meant inclusive. It's exclusive, too, when you compare it to other religions in the fact that it's based on grace, not works. It's the most inclusive doctrine ever written or document ever written in the world.
Keying in on one other word, Hebrews 37, "Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: 'Today, if you will hear His voice'", Hebrews 3:15, "while it is said: 'Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.'" Let's go back to Luke 4:21 to his eight word sermon, "Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing". "Today". "Today is the day of salvation". "Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your heart". Today.
Four years ago, I had the health crisis where I almost died. Some of you might think when I bring this up, "Pastor Robert, we've heard this. How long are you going to talk about it"? For the rest of my life? Three or four times a year, probably. Some of you relate, because when you've been that close, it's something you never get over. And lost 50% of my blood. All of you know, flown to the hospital. Got so much blood, so many transfusions and all this stuff to keep me alive. Two seven-hour surgeries, five to seven-hour surgeries each. All this just crazy stuff. Even when I left the hospital, I only had like 60% of my blood, after all these transfusions and all. And the reason was, though, that they told me, I was kind of like, "Why don't you fill me up before I go"? And they said, "Because you'll be healthier if your blood rebuilds itself. It's better, and you can have more problems even with transfusions".
And I have had difficulties. Still to this day, I have night sweats sometimes and hot flashes. I really believe they gave me blood from a menopausal woman. I really believe that. No, I'm serious. I cry at Hallmark movies now. I used to never cry. I made fun of them. I laughed, and Debbie would be crying. She'd say, "You're so insensitive". But now I cry. But I'm grateful for the blood that I have.
But here's the reason I told you that. Four years ago today, I was released from the hospital. Four years ago today. And here's what I remember, when the doctor walked in the room and said, "Today, you can go home". That "today" changed everything. When Jesus said in His home church that day, "Today this Scripture is fulfilled", that "today" changes everything. Today is the day of salvation. Today is the acceptable year of the Lord. Today is the day you can give your life to Christ.
Today. I want you to bow your heads and close your eyes. And I want you to just take a moment. And I really have a burden this weekend for people who need to give your life to Jesus. I'm not saying you don't believe in Jesus. I'm not saying maybe you didn't make a childhood decision, but you need to give Him control of your life. You need to receive Him as Lord and Savior. You know, the big thing is what they were dealing with that day, "Isn't this just a man"? "Isn't he a carpenter"? "Isn't this just a man"? And that's what the world's tried to tell us. "He was a good man".
Some religions say he was a prophet. No, He's the Son of God. He's the Savior of the world. I really have a burden this weekend for you to receive Him as your Lord and your Savior. And I also have a burden for people to make a fresh commitment this weekend, Today. Make a fresh commitment of your life to Jesus today. And you can do it right now, just right there in your seat. Just tell Him:
Lord, I can't do it on my own. I'm that spiritually poor person. I've tried and tried and tried, and You know how many times I failed, but I give You control of my life today. Lord, we want to tell You thank You that not only did You come into this world, but that You bled and died on that cross for us, and You rose again so that we could be saved from our sins, walk in victory on this earth, and live eternally in heaven with You. Thank You, Lord, for Resurrection weekend, in Jesus' name, amen. Amen.