All Roads Lead to Jesus - Luke

Luke – He is the Messiah that Delivers
Reading: Luke 4:16-30, Luke 7:1-10

Have you ever heard the saying, “The devil is in the details?” It is a strange saying, especially since Satan is usually loose with details as he tempts God’s people to sin. If anything, God is in the details as He oversees every aspect of the entire cosmos. Even our lives are ordered after God’s detailed planning. It is not the devil, but instead God who cares about the details that we face every day.

Luke was a historian who authored both a Gospel account and the book that contains the Acts of the Apostles. The Gospel of Luke and Acts are meant to be two parts of the same story of God’s detailed redemptive plan that has been realized through Jesus Christ. Each of the Gospels is written with a particular audience in mind. Luke was written to a Gentile audience in order to help them understand that their part was always meant to be a part of God’s detailed redemptive plan.

The central theme of Luke is that Jesus is the Messiah who delivers all people from the sin and brokenness of this world. He has come to set captive people free. His letter is addressed to a Gentile man named Theophilus. Theophilus, like many other Gentiles, may have found himself wondering at times, what part he played in the story of redemption. After all, the Christian faith started as another sect of the Jewish culture. Luke wrote to remind Theophilus that God had always planned to deliver all people through His Son Jesus Christ.

The Christian faith can be a hard nut to crack for many people. You may be one of those people that think there is no place for you in a church. The people seem odd, their beliefs outdated and their cliques too close to break into. Maybe you think that the church is only for a certain type of person. But it was not always so. Before Constantine made Christianity a state religion in the fourth century, the church experienced exponential growth across all cultures. As the church associated itself more and more with powerful entities, governments, kings, and rulers, it began to close doors to other cultures and countries as boundaries were drawn. Something similar has happened to American Christianity, also called “evangelicalism” over the past 100 years, or more (depending on who you talk to). Some may get the feeling from the church that Jesus has only come to deliver a certain type of person.

But Jesus did not come to save one kind of person. Jesus came to bring salvation to all peoples from all nations. This theme is given prominence in Luke 7 when Jesus healed the servant of a Roman Centurion. The Romans subjugated Israel to their laws and government and so were the sworn enemies of the Jewish people. The Jews of Jesus’ day believed that the Messiah would deliver Israel from the unacceptable oppression of Rome. Against this backdrop, Jesus scandalously healed the servant of a Roman Centurion. If Jesus’ healing of the Centurion’s servant added fuel to the religious leaders’ growing fire against him, then what came next was a nuclear explosion. After hearing the plea of the Roman Centurion Jesus told the crowd that this Roman’s faith was greater than anyone’s in Israel.

If it wasn’t clear before, it was with certain clarity now that Jesus had not come to deliver the Jews from Rome, but rather to deliver both Jews and Gentiles from their sin. According to Luke, the Messiah God had promised was not a national Messiah and he was not an earthly king. The Messiah Israel had waited for had come to bring all people under one nation into the Kingdom of God.

Many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles did not see their need for deliverance. They didn’t see their need for forgiveness. They certainly did not see God’s desire to bring very different people together into one holy priesthood of all believers. Each had their own religion and their own way of seeking God that in their eyes was sufficient without Jesus messing with the order of things.  But according to Jesus, both Jew and Gentile were slaves to their sin and their freedom was the exact reason that Jesus came to this earth.

Early on in his ministry while in a synagogue, Jesus read from Isaiah where the prophet wrote,

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,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

You can imagine what the congregation thought when Jesus rolled the scroll up, looked into the eyes of everyone sitting there, and said, “Today, this Scripture has been fulfilled as you sit there and listen to me.” Jesus set the tone early on his ministry as he declared his purpose – to deliver sinners from the effect, power, and troubles of their sin.

Sometimes, we find ourselves siding with the religious leaders that fought with Jesus. We think that we are holy enough or good enough to please God. We are satisfied with our religion and our efforts. We think that we are our own deliverance. But our goodness is not good enough. Jesus said that the religious leaders were incredibly pious – but he also called them a brood of vipers and sons of Satan. Their piety was not enough.

Other times, we find ourselves living as the Gentiles did. They largely ignored Jesus and went about their lives without much thought of deliverance. They figured that everything would work out in the end if there was any god at all.

And still other times, we may find ourselves like Theophilus. We wonder how we could have any place in this story. Is God really working out the details of redemption in my life? Is God aware of me, loving me, caring for me, and coming to my rescue?

We must follow in the steps of the Roman Centurion who fell at Jesus’ feet and worshipped him. He took Jesus the Deliverer at his word. He knew that his servant was enslaved to the brokenness of this world and that apart from Jesus he had no hope. In a way, the Roman Centurion demonstrated that he trusted Jesus with the details when he told Jesus that he only needed him to say the word and his servant would be healed. He knew that God was mightily concerned with every aspect of his life.
God is concerned with our deliverance and every detail of our life. Paul writes in his letter to the Galatians, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” Paul is saying that when every detail was in place, God sent Jesus to deliver slaves and transform them into His kids.

Jesus did not come to save the world by way of moral reform. Jesus did not come as a President who promises to fix everything or as an earthly king with an earthly kingdom. Jesus came as a servant to all in order to deliver us all from the things that harm us, hurt us, and break us.  

What is required of us? The same thing that was required of the Roman Centurion – faith in Jesus Christ alone. When we put our faith in Jesus we trust that God has every detail under his control and within his purview and that he desires our story to intersect with his plan of Redemption.

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