This lesson comes from the writings of the Prophet Isaiah, and Jesus was very familiar with this passage. We know this because one day Jesus went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He was handed a scroll of the scriptures – it was actually this Isaiah passage which we’ve just heard. He read aloud the passage and then, in his own words, he said a most startling thing. The passage he read was:
“The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to provide for those who mourn in Zion— to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.” Then Jesus said a most startling thing. He said to his listeners, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:14-21
Jesus begins his message and his ministry by talking about healing: to bind up the broken hearted, liberty to the captives, and release to prisoners. One of the ways we can be held captive and in prison is by memories: things which are in the past which can keep us tied to the past, like prisoners. Jesus comes to us to save us from the past, give us freedom in the present, and hope for the future. We call Jesus our “savior,” a wonderful name which means two things. For one, Jesus is our savior because he’s come to rescue us, to set us free from anything that would imprison our soul. He saves us from a sentence of living death. Jesus also salves us. To salve is to apply healing oil to a wound, to salve a wound. To save and to salve sound similar in English; in the Greek (the language of the New Testament) they come from the same root word. Jesus comes to save us and to salve us.
In a few moments we will offer prayers for the wounded. You may be wounded in life from what you personally have experienced, like shrapnel lodged in your own soul. You may be wounded in life because you carry an awareness of other people’s wounds. Maybe both. Today is an opportunity, if you desire, to be anointed on your forehead with healing oil, with Jesus’ saving salve, as we pray for your own healing, and to pray for the healing of those whom you carry in your own heart. And one last word. Jesus comes to save us and to salve us because he loves us. Jesus loves you.
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