This is the sermon for Sunday December 20th, 2009.  Hopefully, I will have the last sermon in the series that will be preached the 27th posted by Tuesday.

The Christmas Prophet part 3

The Christmas mission.

Isaiah 61:1-7.

Isaiah 61:1-3 ESV – 1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; 2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; 3to grant to those who mourn in Zion—to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.

INTRODUCTION

This is our third sermon in our Christmas time series entitled, “The Christmas Prophet.”  Isaiah is the Christmas Prophet.  He speaks of Christ’s coming to earth more than any other Old Testament book, plus he speaks in vivid detail.

So far we’ve seen the Christmas sign – a virgin shall give birth to a son; and His name will be called Immanuel – God with us.  Last time we looked into the Character of this Christmas child that Isaiah reveals to us.

This week we are going to look into the Christmas mission.  Now when I say the words, “Christmas mission,” I’m sure some of your minds may go to the Salvation Army bell ringers outside of stores during the Christmas season; or maybe some mission to the homeless or people who are suffering through difficult times.  Well, those things are important, but that is not what I’m speaking about this morning.

Here is the dictionary.com definition of the word mission that I’m using as a guide this morning: “an assigned or self-imposed duty or task; calling; vocation.”

You see, Jesus had an assignment from the Father; He took it upon Himself, knowing that He was the only one to be able to do it.  It was his duty, and calling – this calling is to be our Savior, our Redeemer, our Sacrifice for sin, the one who would take God’s wrath upon Himself in our place.

Isaiah spoke this about 700 years before Jesus was born.  Now you may ask, “How do we know that this is referring to Jesus?  Well, because 700 years later, Jesus says it was Him.  In fact, this is the first message that Jesus preached in a synagogue after His baptism and temptation in the wilderness.

Luke 4:16-21 ESV – 16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim 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, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 20And 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 on him. 21And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

This morning, we are going to look into the first three verses of Isaiah 61 and see just what the Christmas mission is.  Hopefully this sermon will make you thankful for the awesome salvation that we have in Christ Jesus.  Let’s begin.

Jesus was chosen or appointed by the Father to fulfill the Christmas mission.

Isaiah 61:1a ESV – The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me…

Many people believe that Jesus wasn’t too sure about His mission until the end, or was never sure; well, that is not what Isaiah reveals, nor the Gospels.  Jesus knew His mission.  He knew He would be the sin sacrifice, the One to break down the wall of hostility between Jew and Gentile, between slave and free; and ultimately between God and man.  He was the only one who could fulfill this mission.  Why?  Well, because He was anointed, chosen, and sent by the Father, full of the Spirit of God.

The word “anointed” in Hebrew is mashach (maw-shakh’).  It means, “to rub with oil, to anoint; by implication, to consecrate; chosen; designated to carry out an assigned task.”

You see, in the Old Testament, when a king or priest or someone else was anointed with oil, it symbolized them being consecrated, sanctified, and set apart for service.  Isaiah mentions this anointing of the Lord several times in his book.

Isaiah 11:2 ESV – And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.

Isaiah 48:16 ESV – Draw near to me, hear this: from the beginning I have not spoken in secret, from the time it came to be I have been there.” And now the Lord GOD has sent me, and his Spirit.

Now let’s look at some aspects of this Christmas mission.

There is good news for the poor.

Isaiah 61:1b ESV – … the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor…

For many, the Christmas season is a depressing one.  One reason is because some people lack the financial means to celebrate it like others – with gifts, decorations, and things of that nature.

In the culture of Isaiah’s day, and of Christ’s as well, many people thought that if you were financially well off, that meant God was pleased with you, and if you were poor, you were under God’s curse or being dishonored by Him because of sin.  So many of the poor felt like outcast because many people would have nothing to do with them.

Well the good news is preached to the poor.  What is the good news:  Christ died for sinners!  Doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, you can receive the riches of God’s grace through Christ the Savior.

Notice the comfort for the poor that the Psalmist mentions.

Psalm 9:18 ESV – For the needy shall not always be forgotten, and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever.

The assigned task of Jesus is to heal broken hearts.

Isaiah 61:1c ESV – He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted…

What does it mean, “to bind up the broken hearted?” Well, it is similar to what we do with a cut and a band aid.  We put it on tightly to stop the bleeding; or we put a cast on a broken limb to keep it in place so it can mend.

Now there are many things that can cause broken hearts:  loss of loved ones, an end of a marriage, rebellious children, division in the home, loss of job.

But the greatest thing that should break our heart is our sin against a Holy, Righteous, loving God.  He binds up our wounded hearts; holds them in place so that we can be healed and mended.

Psalm 147:3 ESV – He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

So be encouraged:  The Christmas mission of Jesus Christ is to take your broken heart and hold it tight in order to mend it and restore it.

The message of Jesus is freedom to those in captivity.

Isaiah 61:1d ESV – to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound…

Isaiah is alluding to the year of Jubilee, when all the slaves and those in captivity for monetary reasons were released and set free.

Leviticus 25:10 ESV – And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his clan.

This was sounded out throughout the land by a trumpet blast on the Day of Atonement.

The message of the cross is freedom to those bound by sin.  It doesn’t matter if the sin is drug addiction, pornography, homosexuality, thieving, etc….it is still a bondage to sin.  On the day of our atonement – the day Jesus died on the cross, the veil that separated us from God was torn apart, and freedom was proclaimed to those held captive to sin.

Matthew 27:50-51 ESV – 50And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. 51And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.

The message of Jesus is both the Lord’s favor and the Lord’s wrath.

Isaiah 61:2a ESV – 2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God…

God looks down with favor and forgives those who repent of their sins.  Those who are afflicted for the cause of the Gospel are under the favor of the Lord.

Those who refuse to repent and receive His forgiveness and afflict the saints of God are under God’s wrath and will be judged by Him one day.

2 Thessalonians 1:6-10 ESV – 6since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.

Jesus’ mission is to comfort those who mourn.

Isaiah 61:2b-3 ESV – 2to comfort all who mourn; 3to grant to those who mourn in Zion—to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.

All those who mourn and call on the name of the Lord will be comforted; don’t misunderstand me; but I think that this has a much deeper meaning.  I believe it is referring to those who mourn over their sins.  Why do I say this?  Because of the phrase, “they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.”

Just because a believer may sin and fall; it does not mean that God cuts you off from the root – Jesus Christ.  As we mourn over our sin, God forgives and reminds us that we didn’t plant ourselves in Him, but He planted us in Himself.  We are His to comfort, forgive, keep, and grow.  What a hopeful blessed truth.

CONCLUSION

Jesus Christ is on a mission – a Christmas mission.  The true meaning of Christmas is revealed through His mission:  the light of salvation has come; He preaches freedom to those bound in sin; binds up their broken hearts; forgives them as they mourn over their sin; and plants them in Himself to keep, watch-over and care for.

If you are here this morning, know that salvation and the forgiveness of sins are is being offered.  Repent, turn away from your sin and turn to God and receive the forgiveness of sin that comes because of Christ’s Sacrifice.

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