Galilee is geographically north of Palestine and
surrounded by non-Jewish nations. Those nations influenced the
outlook, philosophy, progression and theology of the Jews. William
Barclay tells us that Josephus – the Jewish historian and former
governor of the area – said that he governed 204 villages or towns,
none of them with less than 15,000 people. The three million people
of the area were the least religiously conservative of the Israeli
Josephus writes of the Galileans that, “They were
ever fond of innovations and by nature disposed to changes, and
delighted in seditions. They were ever ready to follow a leader who
would begin an insurrection. They were quick in temper and given to
quarrelling . . . they were never destitute of courage.”1
Their search for something innovative gave Jesus a
forum to begin His ministry in the synagogues. However, it also led
to an insurrection when He boldly proclaimed Himself Messiah after
reading from the Isaiah scroll. His liberating proclamation included
several themes that are applicable today.
I. Jesus came to proclaim help for the poor (Luke 4:18a)
The financially hurting poor groveled for
subsistence. Their meager earnings kept them in an economical prison
that they felt could never be overcome. Governmental and religious
leadership seemed to overlook their plight and exploited their
poverty by keeping a strangle hold on them. The poor seemed to be
invisible and little was done to help them. Jesus boldly proclaims
that good news had come to the poor . . . He came to help them to see
the richness of a better life.
I was a freshman at a Christian college that
believed in evangelizing the poor. One day our group went out to
share with the poor of the city. Traveling a few miles from the
college, we made our way to a section of the poorest neighborhood.
Some lived in cardboard homes, others in burned out buses, while some
lived in small, but neat little places that were well kept. I
discovered that those neat little houses and yards were the families
who had come to know Christ. What impressed me that day and has stuck
with me for decades is that these people had a self esteem that
developed from their relationship with Jesus. I understood that
Christ took the “poor me” out of them and replaced it with a “rich me”
in the heart. Though the financial problems did not change, a new
outlook did change their perspective.
We still have the poor with us. As Christians we
have a responsibility to help those who are less fortunate,
struggling for financial help, needing a hand up and not a hand out.
How is that accomplished?
1. Quit giving lame excuses not to help. Ask what can be done to help the poor.
2. Give financially to legitimate organizations that care about people in need.
3. Volunteer to help through the church, rescue mission, soup kitchens or other ministries that are reaching out.
II. Jesus came to proclaim freedom of spiritual oppression (Luke 4:18b)
Jesus’ concern for the poor delved deeper than the
social level. It went to the crux of the matter – the spiritual. As
Messiah He was calling the people back to a full restoration,
including the heart. The people needed their stomachs filled, but
they also needed their spiritual appetite satisfied. Jesus would do
that by taking the emptiness of sin away and letting them feast on
the satisfying morsels of righteousness.
We need to let sin go and invite freedom and righteous to come in through the person of Jesus!
Sin destroys . . . righteousness restores.
Sin holds us powerless . . . righteousness gives us the power of the Holy Spirit.
Sin makes us selfish . . . righteousness unleashes unselfishness.
Sin limits . . . righteousness frees us.
Sin destines to eternal punishment . . . righteousness to eternal life.
Why be spiritually oppressed when one can be spiritually free?
III. Jesus came to bring sight to the blind (Luke 4:18c)
As a child, I grew up with hymns and gospel songs.
Often they told a story or made statements that uplifted, convicted
or challenged me to live a life for Christ. One of my favorites,
written by Philip Bliss, says, “The whole world was lost in the
darkness of sin; The Light of the world is Jesus. Like sunshine at
noonday His glory shone in; The light of the world is Jesus.” Then
as a congregation we sang the refrain with enthusiasm, “Come to the
Light; ‘tis shining for thee. Sweetly the Light has dawned upon me.
Once I was blind, but now I can see. The Light of the world is
What a liberating innovative thought in a world
blindly doing its own thing – hatred, strife, envy, destruction,
murder, thoughtless acts of terror, etc. If your world is filled
with darkness, the last phrase of that song is for you: “The Light of
the world is Jesus.” Come to the light!
Sermon brief provided by: Derl
G. Keefer, Adult Development Ministries Coordinator for the Church of
the Nazarene in Kansas City, MO
1. William Barclay, The Gospel of Luke (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1953), 41.