The Sermon for Sunday, October 16th, 2022, the Patronal Festival of St. Luke the Evangelist
The Lessons: Ecclesiasticus 38:1-14; Psalm 147:1-11; 2 Timothy 4:1-13; Luke 4:14-21
The Text: Luke 4:14-21
The Topic: Healing given by the Lord Jesus Christ
Here in the United States, companies use millions of wood pallets each year to haul products. After a pallet has borne heavy, sometimes crushing weights, and taken abuse from truck travel and forklifts, eventually it can no longer be used. Now cracked and smashed, or loose and floppy, pallets are something businesses must pay other companies five dollars or more per pallet to dispose of. Disposal companies burn the pallets, chew them into wood chips, or dump them in landfills.
One nonprofit company in New York had a better idea, writes Andrew Revkin in the New York Times. Big City Forest in South Bronx takes other companies’ junk and turns it into treasure. The raw material of pallets may be valuable hardwoods like rosewood, cherry, oak, mahogany, and maple. Big City Forest workers dismantle the pallets, salvage the usable wood, and recycle it into furniture and flooring. Recycled woodchips are worth only $30 or so a ton. But when used as flooring the value of the recycled wood is forty times as much per ton, and when used as furniture two hundred times as much per ton.
If this is what can be done with lifeless wood, how much more can God do to restore people’s lives to the image of his Son!
HEALING AND RESTORATION
At this celebration of the Festival of St. Luke the Evangelist, it is appropriate to dwell on the healing ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ, as prophesied by Isaiah 61:1-2, and reflected in our Lord’s reading of this passage in the Gospel Lesson for today. It was the unique grace and power of the Lord’s healing ministry available for all people that St. Luke was concerned to record in the Gospel account that bears his name.
Our Lord interprets Isaiah 61:1-2a for us in our Gospel Lesson, where, after reading Isaiah 61:1 in the synagogue at Nazareth on the Sabbath day, he refers to this passage as fulfilled in the hearing of the people. Earlier in the same chapter of St. Luke’s Gospel account we read that as the Lord Jesus was being baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in the bodily form of a dove, and there came a voice from heaven affirming Jesus as God’s beloved Son. This, I believe, is the fulfillment of the prophetic words of Isaiah 61:1, “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me…” The Hebrew word for “anoint” indicates an anointing or outpouring of oil to set apart a person for a specific office, usually of a king, prophet, or priest. Our Lord Jesus Christ was anointed with the Holy Spirit to commission Him as Messiah, Prophet, Priest, and King.
We notice that the Lord Jesus Christ was anointed with the Spirit of God for various purposes. Firstly, he was anointed to “preach good tidings unto the meek.” The fact that proclaiming good news stands first among the priorities of the Lord Jesus Christ, is profoundly significant. He came to a world in need of good news, estranged from God, and in bondage to every kind of sin. To whom must He proclaim this good news? The prophecy tells us it is to the meek, the humble, and the poor. Why would such people be singled out? It is perhaps because they had nothing else to lean upon, no other hope of support or help, but from God. Even now we are in a world that is changing rapidly, so that increasingly, people are in just such a case of needing the good news of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Secondly, the proclamation of the Gospel, the good news, does not come just in the words of Christ’s teaching and preaching. It carries with it the power to heal, for we read that the Messiah has also been sent “to bind up the broken-hearted.” This means that Christ has come to bring healing, literally “to bandage up” all who are broken hearted, crushed in spirit, downhearted. No doubt the original and primary context is that of the devout Jews despondent about their exile from Jerusalem and Judah, but the Messiah’s healing ministry and power extends from the Jews to all nations. It is important to see that in this verse, confirmed by verse three of Psalm 147, healing is first the healing of the heart, the will, the mind, and the emotions. When these are healed, so much more healing can take place in our relationships and in our bodies.
Thirdly, as part of this Gospel comes the proclamation, the announcement, of freedom for the captives. This never meant that all prisoners in all prisons and jails throughout the world will be set free. What it does mean is that all who are in bondage to sin, Satan and evil, now receive freedom by turning away from sin, believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, and following his will. The ministry of deliverance from habitual sin and from sinful thought and behavior patterns is included in this prophecy. Exorcism and deliverance from demons are included in this promise, as is deliverance from every evil thing that holds people in bondage. The Hebrew word used for “proclaim” in Isaiah 61:1 was also used for the proclamation of liberty at the Year of Jubilee, when all those who were in slavery were set free, and debts were forgiven.
Fourthly, the promise of deliverance is expressed in the image of the “opening of the prison to them that are bound.” The Hebrew word for “opening” in Isaiah 61:1 refers also to the opening wide of a person’s eyes. For this reason, I believe, the Septuagint translated this phrase with Greek words which are rendered in English, “the recovery of sight to the blind.” It is interesting that in St. Luke’s rendering of Isaiah 61:1 as our Lord read it aloud in the synagogue, the phrase “the recovery of sight to the blind” is added to the phrase “to set at liberty them that are bruised.” That this was meant to be included in the original words of the prophecy is shown by our Lord’s healing ministry, in which there are examples of blind men receiving the ability to see.
Fifthly, the Messiah is to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD. It is here that the Lord Jesus Christ completes his reading of the passage from Isaiah in our Gospel Lesson. He thus emphasized the purpose of his first coming to proclaim the time of God’s favor and grace. Today we are still living in the time of God’s favor and grace. Therefore, we need to make full use of all the opportunities for healing and restoration God has given us in His beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Lord Jesus Christ’s anointing of the Holy Spirit’s healing grace, love and power is available to all who turn wholeheartedly to Him in faith and repentance.
Is there anything in your life which you have longed to be healed of, whether emotionally, mentally, physically? The healing grace is all there in the Lord Jesus Christ! Therefore we need to come to Him in faith and submit ourselves completely to His will and receive healing and grace!