The Spirit Of The Lord Is Upon Me!
By Raymond D. Sopp
Luke 4:17-21: "And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him (Jesus). And He opened the book, and found the place where it was written, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, To set free those who are downtrodden, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.' And He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed upon Him. And He began to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.'"
I believe the above passage of Scripture to be one of the most profound and pivotal passages in the New Testament. I can think of no other Scripture which so clearly and distinctly defines the objective of Jesus' life and ministry while He was with us. This was the reason God sent His only Son to die for us. This was the reason Jesus willingly sacrificed His life and suffered the excruciating pain of the cross. This was the reason Jesus left heaven. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were in one accord – in complete agreement, and with great tenacity, proceeded to accomplish this awe-inspiring objective.
This awe-inspiring objective was the controlling influence in Jesus' life. Everything Jesus said and did was motivated with this one objective in mind. Jesus' eyes always remained focused and fixed on this one objective. The Holy Spirit came upon Jesus, without measure -- with all power -- in order to equip Jesus to fulfill this one objective. Since this awe-inspiring objective necessitated the full attention and power of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, would it not also be wise for us to give it our full attention? Let's take a closer look at this profound passage of Scripture.
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me . . ." The word "anointed" in this quote from Scripture simply means to equip -- to furnish someone with the necessary equipment for the administration of the specified objective. From this quote we are also told that it's the Holy Spirit's job to do the equipping. This is extremely important to understand, because from this Scripture we get a very clear and distinct picture of the Holy Spirit's role in God's divine and awe-inspiring plan. We are made aware that the responsibilities of Jesus and Holy Spirit differ, i.e., Jesus becomes the sacrifice and the Holy Spirit supplies the power, but the objective remains the same. Which should be no surprise to us, as we know the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have always been one. Therefore, it is reasonable for us to come to the conclusion that the anointing -- the power, you and I receive from the Holy Spirit -- should also be focused on this same objective. In other words, the only reason we should be seeking and asking for the Holy Spirit to come upon us with power is so we can accomplish this same awe-inspiring objective, the proclamation of the gospel message.
Seeking to be anointed by the Holy Spirit with another objective, or with an agenda of our own creation, would not only be foolish, but would also set us up for deception. Satan would be happy to masquerade in the Holy Spirit's place with a myriad of signs, wonders, and other displays of power to keep us deceived and rendered useless in God's objective. Therefore, it becomes imperative for us to fully understand God's awe-inspiring objective, inasmuch as, God wants us also to become one with Him. John 17:22: "And the glory which Thou hast given Me I have given to them; that they may be one, just as We are one." Let's now begin to unveil God's awe-inspiring objective.
"To preach the gospel to the poor . . ." To gain insight, we must accurately define the word "poor" as it is used in this quote. In society today the image that immediately comes to mind by the word "poor" is someone who does not have the financial means to reach society's arbitrary standard of living. However, this Greek word for poor simply means someone who is completely and totally destitute, helpless, and powerless to accomplish any desired aspiration without some kind of outside intervention.
Remember how John the Baptist was sent by God to prepare the way for Jesus? John traveled about the countryside preaching in the power of the Holy Spirit, bringing conviction into the hearts of many, in order to bring about repentance. This caused many to realize their need to be cleansed of their defilement -- their sin. Hence, we get the external symbolism of water baptism, which symbolizes the need for cleansing, a cleansing which now became so essential as the Holy Spirit supernaturally exposed our need.
But now we have a huge problem! Washing our flesh with water cannot change who we are (our heart), or remove our sin? We now find ourselves in a position where we are completely and totally destitute, helpless, and powerless to accomplish this essential need. What a dilemma we now find ourselves in! The Holy Spirit exposed our need and at the same time we found ourselves to be completely helpless and powerless to do anything about it. We find ourselves in the very precarious position of being completely destitute and POOR! Who will intervene to help us?
Jesus now comes on the scene preaching the gospel, the GOOD NEWS, that God Himself will intervene on our behalf. Inasmuch as, we found ourselves to be completely helpless and powerless, God sent His only Son to intervene on our behalf. Jesus sacrificed His life to cleanse us from our defilement -- our sins. But this gospel, this good news, was only good news to the POOR! To the proud of heart and self-righteous, this gospel was not good news at all; it was extremely offensive. After all, they were in need of no one – not even God! The gospel message became so offensive to the proud and self-righteous they spit upon and killed the messenger – Jesus. We now know God used the proud and self-righteous as unwilling pawns to ultimately fulfill His plan of intervention.
"He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives . . ." Once again, we find a message which only the poor of heart can embrace and can only offend the proud of heart. In order to admit a need to be set free, you would have to also admit to a loss of control over your own life. In other words, a slave! John 8:33-36: "They answered Him, ‘We are Abraham's offspring, and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, ‘You shall become free?' Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. And the slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. If therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.'"
But it goes far beyond the basic concept of the inability to say no to sin, as some will undoubtably say, "I'm not out of control! I have the ability to exercise self-control!" Nevertheless, if you sin just once, you are no longer a freeman, but a slave -- a captive to sin's punishment. Since no one can ever look into a mirror and say, "I have never in my life missed the mark (sin)," then all of us are in desperate need of a pardon. The Greek word translated "release" in the above quote is the same word used for remission, forgiveness, pardon, and deliverance. Proclaiming release to the captives, is VERY good news (gospel) to me!
"And recovery of sight to the blind . . ." Revelation 3:17-18: "Because you say, ‘I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,' you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire, that you may become rich, and white garments, that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see." Here Jesus gives to us a clear indication of the blindness He came to take away -- the blindness to our spiritual condition. As the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, He is in reality empowering us to see for the first time our true spiritual condition. The Holy Spirit is indeed enabling the blind to see. In the above verse, Jesus also gives us insight to the cause of our spiritual blindness. It is a proud, hard, arrogant heart which will cause this spiritual blindness.
John 9:39-41: "And Jesus said, ‘For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see; and that those who see may become blind.' Those of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things, and said to Him, ‘We are not blind too, are we?' Jesus said to them, ‘If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,' your sin remains.'" With this verse we come to understand that if we continue to reject the efforts of the Holy Spirit to convict us of sin, there remains no hope. If in the arrogance of our heart we continue to reject the Holy Spirit's definition of right and wrong for our own definition (in essence calling evil, good and good, evil), we will never see a need for a savior and our spiritual blindness becomes TERMINAL. Mark 3:28-30: "Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin, because they were saying, ‘He has an unclean spirit.'"
"To set free those who are downtrodden . . ." The word downtrodden in the Greek language display's an image of not only brokenness, but a shattering into small pieces. And since everything so far in this gospel message has dealt with our spiritual condition, we can reasonablely conclude this passage does also. We also find the word downtrodden to be in the passive voice. In other words, this shattering of our spirit was done to us by an outside force.
Even as our spirit was shattered by an outside force, God sent an outside force to restore it. Our shattered, downtrodden spirit came through the disobedience of someone other then ourselves and is now bound up, made whole, and restored through the obedience of another. 1 Corinthians 15:22: "For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive." And again in Romans 5:17-19, "For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous."
"To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord . . ." Here Jesus announced to mankind that for a fixed period of time God was willing to extend His hand of mercy toward His creation -- you and me. This is a time when God would allow mankind the unprecedented gift of unmerited favor – the gift of salvation and freedom from His righteous judgment, allowing mankind, His prodigal sons and daughters, an opportunity to come home. Read Luke 15:11-32.
In the Greek, the word for "year" used in this passage represented something we must never forget. It illustrates an image of time with both a beginning and a definite end, while at the same time not being specific as to its length. In other words, this time period of God's mercy, compassion, and grace toward mankind will DEFINITELY come to an end sometime in the future.
When Jesus stood up in the synagogue and started to read Isaiah chapter sixty-one, He abruptly stopped without finishing the rest of Isaiah's prophecy. Instead He closed the book and said in Luke 4:21, "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." In so doing, Jesus made it extremely clear that this was all of Isaiah's prophecy to be fulfilled at this time, or season. The very next line in Isaiah is bone-chilling, foretelling God's next item of business with mankind after this "Favorable year of the Lord". The next line in Isaiah reads, "And the day of vengeance of our God!" This should bring a sense of urgency within our hearts for the proclamation of the gospel toward mankind.
The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit placed such a high value on the above gospel message, They literally held nothing back, even unto the sacrifice of God's own Son. If that is the case, what does God expect from us? We find the answer to our question in John 17:18, "As Thou didst send Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world." And again in John 17:20, "I do not ask in behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word." Jesus makes it very clear that His prayer in John 17 was directed at all believers in Christ Jesus. The same mission objective Jesus started was now to be handed over to us to finish, giving the gospel message to mankind to proclaim to mankind.
John 17: 14- 16: "I have given them Thy word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not ask Thee to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." What an incredible prayer Jesus offered up to God the Father! Could Jesus leave us in the world if He knew we were going to be mistreated and hated by the majority of people around us? John 16:1-4: "These things I have spoken to you, that you may be kept from stumbling. They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God. And these things they will do, because they have not known the Father, or Me. But these things I have spoken to you, that when their hour comes, you may remember that I told you of them. And these things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you."
Jesus expected us to have the same passion and love for the gospel message and for mankind that He had, a passion and love so great that we would be willing to endure personal sacrifice and hardship. Jesus' love for mankind was so great that He actually left heaven to suffer here on earth. How many of us would be willing to pray, "God, keep me out of heaven a little longer so I can touch one more soul with your gospel, or help one more weary soul to stand"? Jesus endured all kinds of insults and indignities for the gospel's sake, because of His love and passion for mankind. How much personal sacrifice and hardship are we willing to endure for the gospel's objective?
When we ask for the Holy Spirit to come upon us, what objective did we have in mind? Was it for a selfish, self-serving objective, or was the objective the gospel message? When you asked for a miracle, was it for the gospel's sake, or to fulfill your own desires? Acts 4:29-31: "And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Thy bond-servants may speak Thy word with all confidence, while Thou dost extend Thy hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Thy holy servant Jesus. And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak the word of God with BOLDNESS."
When I speak of the objective of the gospel message, I'm not restricting it only to the evangelistic point of view, but from every needed area, pastors, prophets, teachers, and so on. All ministry areas are needed and equally important to the fulfillment of God's gospel objective, or why would God place them in the body of Christ – the Church. Not all can be pastors, prophets, or teachers, nonetheless, we all have a role in fulfilling God's gospel objective with such things as prayer, financial support, encouragement, obedient life style, and so on. And we must maintain a sense of urgency, for now is the favorable year of the Lord!
Matthew 25:14: "For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves, and entrusted his possessions (mankind) to them." And again in Matthew 25:24-27, "And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed. And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground; see, you have what is yours.' But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I scattered no seed. Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest.'" Are we willing to risk (sacrifice) our God given talents and/or assets to give God His heart's desire?
Lord, baptize, even immerse us in the Holy Spirit to give us the faith and courage to place the objective which is so close to Your heart, the gospel, first and foremost in ours. Pour the Holy Spirit upon us to take away our fear of man, our anxiety for tomorrow's bread, that we may give freely -- even sacrificially to bring to bear all our God given talents and/or assets to accomplish Your heart's desire -- Your awe-inspiring objective, to proclaim Your gospel to mankind. In Jesus name, Amen!
From my heart to yours,
Raymond D. Sopp
All above Bible references are from The New American Standard Bible, (La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation) 1977.
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