"The Spirit of the Lord is upon
Me, because the Lord has anointed Me, to preach good tidings to the poor; He has
sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the
opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of
the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn"
Paul, in Romans 12:19, said "Beloved,
do not avenge yourselves, but rather, give place to wrath, for it is written,
‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord." Paul was paraphrasing
Moses, who said much the same thing in Deuteronomy 32:35. Paul then quoted
Solomon: "if your enemy hungers, feed him; if he thirsts,
give him a drink" (Romans 12:20, Proverbs 25:21-22), and then he
concluded with the excellent advice, "Do not be overcome
by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:21).
We assume we understand words like "wrath"
and "vengeance." In our dictionaries, the one word
involves a "retributive punishment" and the other
means much the same. But do we understand what this word "vengeance"
meant in the context of Isaiah 61:2? It has been taught by many that the "vengeance
of our God" in Isaiah 61:2, refers to the second coming of Christ, in
which He will judge the people of this earth. He will indeed judge this planet,
but is the "vengeance of God" in Isaiah 61:2, truly
a reference to that time? I have heard and read some fine sermons which support
that position, but I think not – the context of the verse in Isaiah just does
not fit that interpretation. The vengeance of God fell on Jesus Christ. We
sinned, and He died for what we did. And when we are in Him, His forgiving love
begins to grow inside us.
We do have a terrible time with forgiveness, and
VENGEANCE is often far ahead of mercy in our thoughts concerning people. About
the time we decide we have become "forgiving" men or women, we remember
something TERRIBLE – completely beyond our ability to forgive or even endure.
Betrayal by someone you love is a pain that must be felt to be understood.
We cannot forgive great wrongs, except in Christ. When
He is in us, we become surprised by His ability to forgive the "unforgivable".
He longs to uproot the bitterness from your soul, and He can do the job, too.
Indeed, He has already DONE the work on His cross – all we have to do is ACCEPT
what He has done. Pray for that person who has hurt you. And if you cannot pray,
go to Christ with your unforgiving heart - what you cannot do, He can.
I was fascinated by the account of Corrie Ten Boom and
the hated prison guard she met after World War II. This terrible man who had
been cruel to her and her sister, attended one of her meetings. And he had
accepted Christ! He smiled and reached out to take her hand, but she drew back!
She could not touch this man who had mistreated her sister! But then she did,
for God ENABLED her to receive this man, who was now her brother in Christ.
Every one of us has had experiences where we feel
wronged by someone else. They did something terrible and unforgivable, we think,
and it’s often the truth – but when you hear the other side of the story, it’s
not so clear. It’s amazing how THEY remember things, but every once in awhile,
you discover that it’s YOU who have the biased memory. That’s upsetting, but
don’t lose heart – the Holy Spirit of God remembers everything perfectly, and He
is helping us all; not only prompting our memories, but He is also making us
people who forgive.
As we have read in our Scripture verses for today, "The
Spirit of the Lord” has “good tidings” for
us. The “Spirit of the Lord” came “upon” Jesus
Christ, because the Father anointed Him “to preach good
tidings to the poor;” like you and me. He was sent “to
heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of
the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn" (Isaiah
61:1-2). We all mourn what might have been, but the vengeance of God has
sacrificed the Innocent to pay the price for the guilty. Jesus was given for you
When He was dying on the cross, Jesus prayed, "Father,
forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34). At the very
time humanity was killing Him, He was praying we would be saved from our sins.
At that very moment, He was doing the work which would save us – if only we
would turn to the Son of God! Now, think about this – If He could pray at such a
time, surely He is praying for you, right now. No matter who you are, what you
have done, or what was done to you, He is praying for you. And His prayers are
Time-and-time again, outrageous sinners have run
full-speed into one of life’s brick "walls" and all of a sudden we have to
rethink – everything! I know about them because we are ALL sinners – Decades
ago, I was called "hard-headed" and I was. But we
are never hard enough, because life knocks us down and brings us to the Lord,
where we can find His forgiveness.
Stephen, the deacon named in the Book of Acts, was
wonderful. At the conclusion of his life, he cried out as they were stoning him
to death, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them"
(Acts 7:60). Now, there IS no forgiveness for sin, except through the blood of
Jesus Christ. All of us would have died in our sins, except He rescued us on
that cross. So, his killers would have been lost, except that some of them were
delivered through Stephen’s prayer. One of those who killed him was Saul, the
man who was to become the Apostle Paul (Acts 9:1 & forward).
God responds to those who believe in His Son and He
listens to our prayers. The "vengeance" of God for
the ones who killed Stephen, fell on Jesus Christ. The killers (some of them)
were forgiven and they will be eternally in the presence of the Savior. Sound
unfair? It’s not, when you consider that the "vengeance"
of God has indeed brought justice in its fullness by the sacrifice of God’s Son.
Our guilt was met by His Love. The price none of us can pay was paid in full.
My wife and I became so busy in the ministry that we
didn’t have time for anything else. Within a year of each other, we were forced
to give up our secular work and trust in the Lord’s provision. Slowly, like a
dormant machine coming to life, a little bit here, a little bit there; we have
enough. We all are offered more than we know, for the price has been paid. In
our lives and in our souls, the Lord has paid the price for you and for me.
"Father forgive them" is
His cry for you. You and I have a terminal illness inside our souls, and He is the
Medicine that gives LIFE! He is "the living bread which
comes down from heaven.” Indeed, “If anyone eats of
this bread, he will live forever; and the bread which I shall give is My flesh,
which I shall give for the life of the world" (John 6:51). He knew He was
going to die and He died to forgive us all. Let’s receive these “good
tidings” right now:
Lord, there is a penalty for our sin – it is death!
Yet Jesus paid that price and we are made FREE! Thank You. We receive Him and
His forgiveness right now. In Jesus Name. Amen.