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The Gospel (Lesson 17)
A Promise of Restoration | Luke 4:18-19
The gospel is a promise of restoration.
To restore is to bring something back to its original condition—the way something was designed.
Think of an old car that is now broken down. Its paint is faded and the interior is worn. What would it take to bring it back to its original condition?
It would take a lot of work. Engine work. Body work. Upholstery work. And more. While robots can be used to create new cars, auto restoration typically is a manual, hands-on project. Lots of sweat goes into a restoration.
After being baptized by John the Baptizer and being led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness for forty days, Jesus returns to Galilee and begins His ministry in Nazareth, where He was raised. Attending the synagogue on the Sabbath day, Jesus stands up, takes a scroll, and reads from Isaiah 61:1-2. These words are recorded for us in Luke 4:18-19, where Jesus says,
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
The words "good news to the poor" and "freedom for the prisoners" reveal Jesus' commitment to bringing justice and equality to those who were marginalized and freedom for those oppressed. He also promises to bring healing.
We would do well to recognize both the real-world, here-and-now, material aspect to these promises as well as the spiritual realities. The good news for the poor is something greater than material wealth. Those healed physically have a greater healing in store. The oppressed and mistreated have a greater freedom waiting than merely the removal of earthly chains.
Nevertheless, in the kingdom of God, the poor had hope of greater prosperity now because of how the new community would care for them with practical love by sharing possessions and caring for material needs.
The blind received physical sight. Yes, miraculous healings point toward a greater healing. However, Jesus healed actual eyes. His kingdom changed lives here and now. He restored people’s physical bodies.
The implication of the kingdom’s presence on earth meant the new community would work for equity and justice, with a desire to free those oppressed and mistreated. Yes, the ultimate freedom we experience is deliverance from the consequences of sin and death, the presence of the kingdom is restorative. It restores people, communities, and social structures. We could say it is redemptive in the broadest sense of the word.
Indeed, the gospel is a promise of restoration—holistic restoration.
By the way, the phrase "the year of the Lord's favor" is a reference to the Jubilee year in the Old Testament, a time when all debts were canceled, slaves were set free, and the land was restored to its original owners, which serves to highlight the concept of holistic, gospel restoration.
Even though that restoration project has not been completed as it will be with the new earth (Revelation 21).
In Jesus, the Jubilee year has arrived!
It has arrived because he has done the restoration work. Not on a car but on a cross, where he didn’t only sweat but shed his blood. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:17-19,
17Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away. Behold, the new has come! 18All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s trespasses against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
Because the gospel is a promise of restoration.
What does it mean to restore something to its original condition?
What does Jesus' mission statement in Luke 4 reveal about His commitment to bringing justice and equality to those who were marginalized?
How does Jesus' promise of healing for the blind serve as a symbol of a greater healing?
What does the reference to the Jubilee year in Jesus' mission statement emphasize about the concept of restoration?
How does the gospel offer holistic restoration for people, communities, and social structures?
How does the idea of being a new creation in Christ relate to the concept of restoration?
Thank you for sending Jesus to bring restoration. Give us the grace to be agents of restoration as you empower us with your Holy Spirit, as we speak of your grace and show practical love to our friends, neighbors, and even our enemies. Have been saved and restored by your grace, help us to live all of life for your praise as we experience the fullness of life in your kingdom through faith in Jesus.
For we pray in his name, Amen.