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Sent to tell it


Sent is the past tense and past participle of send. Both words imply a sense of intentionality. To send is to cause, permit, or enable to go. it is purposeful movement. Scripture affirms that Jesus was sent to the earth by the Father. It is central to our Christmas celebration, to know he was sent. Glory!

Jesus mentioned being sent several times in the Gospels. In Luke's orderly account the first note about his mission was during his time in Nazareth, among the first stops in his earthly ministry in Galilee. He read from Isaiah---

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.

Luke 4:18-19, ESV

That it was a quote of Isaiah 61:1-2 indicates his total awareness of fulfilling the Messianic prophecy of proclamation. Jesus knew he had been anointed to announce the message of redemption to those living outside and inside the legalism of the existing religious systems. The poor and captives were obviously those whose life situation and humble circumstances disqualified them from inclusion in the elite religious paradigm of the day. They were the spiritually disenfranchised people who were ignored by the religious establishment. But, his proclamation was also to the blind and the oppressed, those whose religiosity excluded them from the Kingdom because of their prideful arrogance and mistreatment at the hands of their religious superiors. He was sent to proclaim the Kingdom to those who could not qualify and to those who could not satisfy the rigid demands of their ritualistic system. The message of the Kingdom was purposefully aimed at the down and out and the up and in. When the group in the synagogue realized he was talking about them, their joy at receiving it became wrath.

It's a message that resonates with every generation in history, and this one too. The growing world secularism has actually accentuated two polarities in the current spiritual environment. Obviously there are those totally outside any spiritual awareness---the atheists, agnostics, and spiritual nomads with no confession or acknowledgement of God. Over in the other corner are the hyper-religionists from every persuasion of belief---orthodox Christian, neo-orthodox hybrids, Islam, and all the varieties of mysticism. There are layers of disbelief and just as many categories of adherents. The one common trait in them all is being closed to new thing God is doing (see Isaiah 43:19).

Jesus was sent to proclaim Kingdom truth to them all. it was the first purpose he announced to the people in his home town, that he was sent to proclaim God's Word to people living in those specific spiritual extremes. Which means, in short, he has a word of truth for every one of us, those outside the church, and those within it. As his earthly ministry was beginning, in a place where his identity would surely be questioned, he gave his purpose as being a proclaimer of truth to everyone, regardless of their position in the spiritual hierarchy. In or out, Jesus had a word for them. No, in or out, he has a word for us. No, a word for me. Christmas celebrates and acknowledges the proclamation of what needs to be said to those on the outside, and to those of us on the inside.

That's a twist for some of us. Sure, there's the redemptive proclamation of the Gospel to unbelievers, the co-mission of the church, to make disciples of all nations. But, there's the fresh word he is announcing to his people right now. Christmas means he is proclaiming the Good News to those on the outside, and Good News to those who are inside. I should be as ready to hear what he is saying to me as I am to hear and affirm what he is saying to the world around me. How quick I am, and we are, to say "amen" to the His word to the secular world around us. How slow we are, and I am, to hear what he is saying to his church.

Jesus was sent to tell it. The "it" was God's word to the distant elements of their world, and ours. it was also His word to us.

My Christmas prayer is that we are listening.


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