Today we enter into the third week of Advent. Over the last two weeks we have been exploring our Advent theme of SENT. We have talked about Jesus being SENT as the coming Lord. During that first week we looked at the second coming of Jesus, and how he will come back to set this world right again. That the waiting that Isaiah and the people experienced waiting for the messiah to come and “rend the heavens and come down” is also the waiting that we are in the midst of for Jesus to once again “rend the heavens and come down” and renew, recreation, and redeem not only our lives, but the entire creation that is all around us.
Last week Matt did a great job of leading us in our second week of SENT talking about the coming Deliverer. That in the midst of the struggle, strife, and brokenness that we experience (individually, communally, and in the world) that Jesus appeared to deliver his people out of bondage and into hope, peace, joy and love (the traditional advent themes). That he came to rescue, and redeem.
Today we are three weeks into the Christian season called Advent. A time of waiting..a time that a friend of mine says is when “Christians stand on their tippy toes” A time that we wait for the Christ child to come. A time that we wait for Jesus, the word made flesh, to incarnate the Kingdom of God in the here and now, and also the not yet. A time of waiting and watching and hoping for the Kingdom of God to come in its fullness.
During this advent season it seems like it is even harder to wait for the world to be the way that it should be. For shalom to break into our world, our world which seems like it is full of violence, hatred, evil, and sin. It seems like everywhere we look today brokenness abounds. We hear of more and more violence or violent language in the name of religion..whether that religion be Islam or Christianity. We hear about the thousands and thousands of people displaced from their homes each day becoming refugees and the largest humanitarian crisis that our world has probably ever faced. And we hear about hatred, fear, anger, and judgment coming from leaders- whether those leaders are politicians, businessmen, president’s of colleges (even Christian colleges) and even Pastors. It seems like now more than ever we need the Kingdom of God to break into our world. We need Jesus to break into our world and we also need those of us who follow Jesus and His Kingdom to work towards justice and shalom, the way things should be.
Let’s look at our Scriptures today and see what they might have to say to us about waiting, Advent, Jesus and the breaking in of His Kingdom into our world right now.
Turn with me to Isaiah 61:1-4 which says, “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy
instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a plantingof the Lord for the display of his splendor. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.”
This passage from Isaiah is known as a Messianic passage. That it looks forward to the coming of the Messiah who would fulfill everything that Isaiah was writing about in this passage. The Messiah which means anointed one, was expected to come and proclaim good news to the poor, bind up the brokenhearted, proclaim freedom for captives, and release from darkness for prisoners. We see this passage predicting the mission and ministry of Jesus 700 years before he walked on the face of this planet. In fact we see Jesus, when talking about his mission- his platform so to speak- reading these very words from the scroll of Isaiah in Luke 4:16-22- and then saying “Today these words have been fulfilled in your hearing.” Obviously Jesus is claiming that he is the one. He is the Messiah that the People of God, the Israelites had been waiting for ever since before Isaiah wrote these words. Ever since the People of God longed and hoped for and prayed for a deliverer, a Messiah to come. But the interesting thing about all of this, is that after all the years of waiting for the Messiah to come, when he does come, they don’t recognize him. And in fact after He basically claims that He is the Messiah, they want to throw him off a cliff. He isn’t recognized as the Messiah, because he wasn’t doing what the People of God thought that the Messiah should do, or at least do it in the way they would have liked. They were hoping for a Warrior Messiah- one who would ride in a strong war horse with a sword in hand, vengeance in his eyes, and a pension to make the Romans pay. And then Jesus shows up not being what they hoped for, and they don’t recognize the Messiah at all. In fact, I am beginning to wonder if we would recognize Jesus if he showed up here today in the good Ole USA. Sometimes when I hear things in the news said by Christians, I definitely say…no we wouldn’t recognize him.
So Isaiah writes these messianic words of what it would be like when the Messiah would come. So the question that I have is what does it look like when the Kingdom of God shows up and breaks out around us? Let’s look at the text.
Verse 1 answers this question about the in breaking of the Kingdom this way, “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners” When the Kingdom breaks in it looks like the broken are healed, the mourning find comfort, the prisoner is set free, and the captives leave their chains. What does it look like when the Kingdom breaks into our reality? It looks exactly like Jesus and his mission and ministry. Jesus- the Messiah came to heal the damage that sin has brought into our world. Sin impoverishes but Jesus the anointed one brings good news to the poor. Sin breaks hearts but Jesus the Messiah heals the brokenhearted. Sin makes us captives but Jesus the anointed one proclaims liberty and freedom. Sin brings grief but Jesus the Messiah brings comfort.
God didn’t just send another prophet, He SENT his Son, the Kingdom right before our very eyes. The Kingdom is here and now and not yet because of Jesus. The Kingdom breaks into our world because of Jesus. He is the one that proclaims good news to the poor, binds up the brokenhearted, proclaims freedom for captives, and release from darkness those bound in chains. He is the one that the Kingdom is advanced through. We are receivers of his Kingdom mission and ministry.
But that doesn’t mean that we just receive it and we then wait around until either we die or he comes back. No. We, who have received the Kingdom in our lives have a job to do as well. What is it? Look at verse 4 and notice the transition in the words that are used. “They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.” The ones in verse 1 who have experience the mission and ministry of Jesus the Messiah are now the ones in verse 4 who are seeking to live out the Kingdom in this world. They are the ones who are rebuilding and restoring, because they have been rebuilt and restored and redeemed. God loves to restore ruins and he wants to use us to restore and rebuild that which is broken and ruined..whether the ruins are people, or cities or problems like homelessness, hunger, the refugee crisis, etc…He is the true anointed one, the Messiah, but then he anoints us (anoint means to be filled with) to be about the work of His Kingdom. He anoints us to proclaim good news to the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the prisoners, and release from darkness. That was his calling and this is also our calling.
So Isaiah 61 does a great job of giving us a picture of what it looks like when the Kingdom of God touches down on earth…it obviously and first and foremost looks like Jesus and his mission and ministry. But what else does it look like besides that? To answer that let’s take a quick glance at the Magnificant found in Luke 1:46b-55 (which Laura read at the beginning of our time together). Luke 1:46b-55 is Mary’s prayer and her prayer goes like this, “And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.”
Based on Mary’s prayer what does it look like when the Kingdom touches down on earth? First, it looks like worship. Mary says it herself, “My soul glorifies the Lord.” If we want to be about the things that we mentioned before found in Isaiah 61, it must start from a heart of worship, because of what the Lord has done for us. We should glorify and honor God because he has preached good news to us. We should glorify and honor God because he has bound up our broken heart. We should glorify and honor God because he has freed us from captivity. We should glorify and honor God because he has released us from darkness. We should be like the wise men who came with their gifts and laid them at the feet of the King.
Secondly, when the Kingdom of God touches down on earth it looks like a reversal of fortune. Look at verses 51-53, “He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty”. Notice the reversals of fortune. The proud are scattered. The rulers are brought down and the humble are lifted up. The hungry are filled with good things while the rich are sent away empty. The coming of God’s Kingdom will bring changes that affect every aspect of life. This prayer is about mercy, hope , fulfillment, reversal, revolution, victory over evil, and of God coming to the rescue at last.
So I close this part of the message with a thought/scripture and some questions for us to discuss in our discussion time.
First, John 20:21 puts it this way, As the Father has sent me, I am sending you. Jesus, the Messiah was sent to our world to embody the Kingdom of God. He is sending us to do likewise.
Secondly here are some questions that we can talk about together. What part of the Kingdom coming to earth in the form of Jesus mission and ministry do you need most in your life at this time (see Isaiah 61)? How can your life and our life together as a community embody and enact the good news of the Kingdom in this world? And lastly what is God saying to you and what are you going to do about it and what is God saying to us and what should we do about it?
1. What thoughts, insights, questions, comments, etc.. do you have regarding the Scriptures and/or the message?
2. What part of the Kingdom coming to earth in the form of Jesus mission and ministry do you need most in your life at this time (see Isaiah 61)?
3. What is God saying to you and what are you going to do about it? What is God saying to us and what should we do about it?