Just Look at You Now

Based On: Isaiah 61:1-3, 10-11

I was poor.  I was completely and utterly destitute.  I had nothing – not even hope.  You couldn’t tell by looking at me but it was true – I was poor.  I was longing for some good news – just a little bit of hope.  You were poor too.  You were in exactly the same condition I was – poor and destitute.

God told me, “You must love me perfectly.  Every single moment of every single day I should be the most important thing in your life.  You must serve me in everything you do.  This is what you must do to be holy – and you must be holy because I am holy.  Anything less will be justly punished.”   He tells you that too.  I knew I had failed already.  The burden of this command made my knees buckle and back give out.  It made my heart break.  I had no hope, only hell because I couldn’t pay the price.  I was poor.  So were you.

Every disobedient act against God’s perfect command only confirmed my slavery to this sin.  Heavy iron bands encircled my ankles and wrists as chains connected me to each of you and to countless others. I committed sin after sin as I took step after step on my way to eternal punishment.  I had no choice and I really didn’t want one.  I was held captive by my sin.  The only direction I knew to go was to follow the chained mob into hell, sinning every step of the way.  You were right there beside me.

The whole time as I marched I was surrounded by the darkness of death.  To the world I looked alive, but it was only a matter of time before my death sentence was carried out for my crimes against the holy God.  The dark gloom of that fate was constantly over me.  I was one of the living dead.  You were too.

We were poor, destitute, enslaved, and without hope and we longed for good news – something to delight in and something to rejoice about.  Our Messiah, our Christ, brings good news.  He was appointed for that very purpose.  He says, “The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me.”  He was anointed by the Lord himself and anointed with the Holy Spirit.  Our Savior – the “anointed one”  (for that is exactly what the title “Messiah” and the title “Christ” means) was anointed for a purpose.  His purpose is “to preach good news to the poor.”  He certainly does bring good news to us who are poor.

Our Messiah comes to you and to me and says, “I know the weight of God’s righteous commands has crushed you.  Do not despair; I carried that weight for you.  I obeyed God’s commands for you.”  We are no longer hopeless, but full of hope.  Our broken hearts have been bound up and made whole.  Not only did he heal our broken hearts, but our relationship with God has been healed.  We are now dear children of God and he is our loving Father.  This is certainly good news.

Our Messiah shares more good news, “You are free!” he says, “I redeemed you.  I purchased you back from your slavery and you are no longer a captive of sin, but you belong to God.”  The iron bands around our wrists and ankles fall to the ground.  We are no longer chained to countless others, sinning again and again on our way to hell.  We are free to love and thank God, our Savior.  The Messiah has picked us up and turned us around.  We are not heading toward hell – instead we see the glorious gates of heaven open before us.  What good news.

Once more our Messiah proclaims, “You are released from your dark prison.  No longer do you wait on death row.  No longer does the death sentence loom darkly over you.”  Now the sleep we experience at the end of life on earth is the door to the eternal glory of heaven.  The Messiah has come with good news.

You were poor and the Messiah brought you good news of your salvation.  You are now a forgiven child of God – very different from what you once were. Just look at you now.

You are like a tree planted in the Lord’s garden – a majestic oak, strong and tall and displaying the Lord’s splendor.  You are his creation – a creature formed from his almighty power and his boundless love.

You once heaped ashes on your head to show your sorrow and your grief but now a crown of beauty adorns your head – and you are beautiful because God has made you beautiful – he has made you perfect and holy in his sight.  You once wore the clothes of despair that revealed your own hopeless condition.  Now you wear a garment of praise that shouts out to others the good news the Messiah has given you.

The Lord provides you with the most wonderful clothes to wear – the garment of salvation, a gift to you yet paid for by the Messiah’s death on the cross – the robe of righteousness, won for you by the Messiah’s perfect life.  Just as on their wedding day the groom finds the best clothes and the bride wears her most precious jewelry, the Lord has dressed you in clothes only the loving God could prepare and has adorned you with jewelry that only God’s own blood could pay for.

This good news fills you with the joy and excitement, like a bride or groom about to be married, and you say, “I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God.”

The Messiah brings good news.

Amen.

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