171210 Isaiah 61:1-3

Last Updated on Sunday, 10 December 2017 Written by Pastor Schmidt

Sermon Text: Isaiah 61:1 – 3
Sermon Theme: Don't Lose Sight of Your Advent Savior!

How are your preparations going for Christmas? Are you getting your shopping done? Is your house clean and ready for company? Or, are you feeling over-whelmed by all that needs to get done yet before Christmas Day? Isn't it far too easy for you and me to get caught up in the earthly preparations at this time of year? That's one reason why it is good for us to be here in God's house today. That's why it is good for us to have a season in the Calendar of the Christian Church like Advent. As we gather together around the Word of our God we focus on our Savior's first coming to this earth and his coming again on the Great Last Day. Putting aside all the earthly distractions, in our worship service today each one of us hears the encouragement: DON'T LOSE SIGHT OF YOUR ADVENT SAVIOR! Listen now as I read for you from Isaiah's prophecy, chapter 61, the first three verses.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach 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 gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.

It is in Luke chapter 4 that Jesus tells us that these words before us from Isaiah are a prophecy about himself. In God's Word we are told that the Savior came "to preach good news to the poor." Who are the "poor" spoken about here? It is not those who don't have a lot of earthly, material wealth, rather it is those who owe such a debt to their God that they can't hope to repay it themselves. It is you. It is me. A holy and just God demands perfection from you and me. Yet, time after time, you and I fail to measure up to that perfection, and sin upon sin is piled up. As you and I confessed earlier in this service: "I am by nature sinful and I have disobeyed you in my thoughts, words and actions. I have done what is evil and failed to do what is good. For this I deserve your punishment both now and eternity."

But, to sinners such as you and me who confess that we are truly sorry for our sins, Jesus preaches a message of Good News. What is this Good News? We are told, "to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners." Brothers and Sister in Christ, don't lose sight of your Advent Savior! Because of our Savior-God, you and I are no longer left in the darkness of sin and unbelief. Rather, God the Holy Spirit has shined the light of the Gospel upon your heart and mine, to give you and me the gift of faith and to strengthen that faith in Jesus as our one and only Savior. Because of our Advent Savior, you and I are forgiven children of our Father in heaven. You and I are no longer held captive by sin, but we are free; free from the guilt of our sins; free to live a life pleasing to our God in heaven; free to give him praise and glory in all that we do, in all that we say and even in all that we think. Because of Jesus, our ever-living Savior, you and I are free to take our place at our Father's side in heaven.

This brings to mind the second reason to not lose sight of your Advent Savior. Remember that the advent of our Lord also means that he will come again to "proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

Before we speak about the Savior coming again to proclaim the Lord's favor, there is some bad news that we need to cover. That bad news is that the second coming of Christ will not be a joyous event for all people. God's Word before us tells us that the Great Last Day will also be "the day of vengeance of our God . . ." On the Judgment Day, Jesus Christ, the Judge of all mankind will have the last word. All those who rejected him and his will for their lives will feel the full force of his anger over sin. For such people the Last Day will be the beginning of a punishment that never ends in the fires of hell. In the final chapter of his prophecy, the Holy Spirit guided the pen of Isaiah to write about the fate of unbelievers on the Last Day: "Their worm will not die, nor their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind."

Because of your sins, because of my sins, this eternal suffering in hell that we read about in God's Word is exactly what each and every one of us here today deserves. But, don't lose sight of your Advent Savior! Jesus Christ came the first time to win the forgiveness of all of your sins. Because of this gift of forgiveness, because God the Holy Spirit has placed faith in their hearts in Jesus Christ as their only Savior from sin, you and I are able to view the Lord's mission to come again as a joyous event to look forward to.

Because of the forgiveness of sins that Jesus won for you and me, when he returns in all his glory he will "proclaim the year of the Lord's favor", and "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 gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor." Don't lose sight of your Advent Savior! The second coming of our Savior, his coming again in glory, is closer today than it was last year, last week or even yesterday. Soon he will come to rescue you and me and all our fellow believers from this place of sin and tears and sorrows, and take us to the eternal joys of heaven. As Revelation 21 states at that time it will be said, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."

In just a few days, you and I will have the opportunity to celebrate Christmas. While it is a time that we exchange gifts with family and friends, as Christians you and I know that Christmas is not about the earthly gifts that we give to each other. Rather, we rejoice in the greatest gift given to mankind by the gracious Savior-God: the forgiveness of all our sins and the promise of eternal life in heaven won for us by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. At this time of year, we push aside the distractions of this sinful world and gather around the Word of God so we don't lose sight of our Advent Savior. Keeping our eyes on the manager and also on the skies, we remember that Jesus came to this earth the first time to "preach Good News to the poor" and that he will come again in all his glory to "proclaim the year of the Lord's favor". Amen.

 

 

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Compelled by the love of Christ, St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church and School seek to reach out to our families, community and world, using Law and Gospel to make disciples, growing and nurturing them in their Christian faith and life.

 

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