Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s verses are Luke 4:18-19 and 21, where Jesus reads words from Isaiah 61 and then adds a most remarkable assertion:    

“’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’”….And, He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing!”



It was a Sabbath day back in Jesus’ day. He stood up, read a portion of the Bible from Isaiah, and then said that all of these things were now fulfilled IN HIM. Wow, what a synagogue service that must have been! He said that God the Father had sent Him to proclaim good news to the poor, liberty to the captives, sight to the blind, liberty to those who were oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. What’s even more amazing is that He brought all those blessings with Him as He brought God’s eternal freedom, eternal riches, and eternal redemption to all who believe.

But, then, like today, we tend to think that we know what all that means, even more than God himself does. We think that we've got it all figured out. We don’t need a messiah or a savior for liberty, freedom, and sight, NO. All we have to do is try harder, think smarter, or throw more money at the problem AND OUR WISDOM WILL WIN OUT. Sadly, then, like now, because of our sin and arrogance, we often CAN'T see our own foolishness when it is plain to anyone who is willing to look. And, when it comes to the FREEDOM that Christ brings, we often miss that too, even though it is the one thing that we really need.

I WAS REMINDED OF THE DEPTH OF OUR FOOLISHNESS WHEN I HEARD ABOUT THE STORY OF A PROJECT THAT WAS BEING CONDUCTED at the University of Oklahoma. You can read more about it in an article by Paul Harvey, a nationally-syndicated columnist, which was published in a Los Angeles newspaper on January 1, 1980. He said,

My son Paul Jr, while doing research for a “The Rest of the Story” broadcast, became acquainted with a research project at the University of Oklahoma.

.....For many years, a project was underway to teach a 15-year-old chimpanzee named “Washoe” to talk by combining sign language with simple recognition. Over the years, the chimp learned 140 different signs.        

Finally, the project directors decided that it was time for Washoe to “conceptualize” meaning, SO, instead of merely imitating human words, she would express thoughts on her own. Now, understand that Washoe was a pampered animal in the university’s laboratory. She was well fed, physically comfortable, and safe from harm. And yet, when she was able to put words together to make a phrase on her own, the first, which she has used repeatedly, was, “Let me out!”[1]

THE SO CALLED “SMART PEOPLE” MISSED THE WHOLE THING, DIDN'T THEY? Even the chimpanzee knew that freedom was precious. Well, even worse, the people of Jesus’ day sinfully, arrogantly missed the point too. It was for freedom that God was to set them free in Jesus. But, instead of embracing what was God’s to give, THE PEOPLE GOT MAD AT JESUS because he WAS CLAIMING TO BE THE SOLUTION FOR ALL THESE ISSUES, ON HIS TERMS ALONE (see Luke 4:28-29). You see, His life, His death on the cross, and His resurrection alone provide eternal liberty and freedom from sin and death for you. And they are given freely by grace to be received through faith. Today, put your faith in Him, because in Him God’s everlasting favor and eternal freedom from all that would afflict us are promised to all who believe.

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, give me the wisdom to recognize what You say I need. Then fill me with your grace, mercy, and peace for a liberty that can never be taken away. AMEN.

[1] http://gentleworld.org/chimpanzee-voices-plea/

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