Have you ever met anyone whose motives were unclear? Maybe they said the right things, but you had a sense they weren’t being honest and open with you? I think that’s true of false teachers. They tell you that you’re basically a good person, that if you work hard enough at doing good things, you will become more spiritual, more god-like. They say there is good in all of us, that we just have to create the right environment and the right political climate, and humanity as a whole will improve and evolve to a higher level.
Those are words that make you feel good about yourself on the surface, but deep down, you know there’s more to it. Even after all the work to ascend to a higher level of consciousness or goodness, your soul is still empty. A false teacher’s motives are unclear – they appear to want to help you, but in the end, they are deceiving you.
I’m glad Jesus was not like that. He made His motives clear. He didn’t hide or obscure the hard teachings that confront us with our sinful nature and need for repentance and redemption. He was willing to tell us the truth, and for those willing to hear it and accept it, He offers eternal life.
In Luke 4:16-21, Jesus preaches his very first sermon in a Jewish synagogue. Jesus came to preach the kingdom of God to Israel, and by quoting from Isaiah 61, He declared Himself to be the Messiah, the One prophesied to come.
And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. 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 oppressed,
To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.”
And He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
Why did Jesus come? What were His motives?
He came to preach the gospel to the poor.
Not just those who are physically poor, although He had a tender heart for the forgotten and the downtrodden. Jesus came for those who recognize their spiritual poverty – who are “poor in spirit” and recognize their spiritual need for salvation.
Matthew 5:3 – Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
He came to proclaim release to the captives.
The Jews were servants of Rome, held captive by their laws and made to pay unreasonable taxes and render service to ungodly rulers who invaded their God-given land. Jesus would not release them from Rome, but from slavery to sin and from being held captive by vain philosophies, deception, traditions, and by Satan himself.
Colossians 2:8 – See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.
2 Timothy 2:25-26 – With gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.
John 8:33-34 – They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, ‘You will become free’?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.
He came to bring recovery of sight to the blind.
Jesus healed many blind people, restoring their physical sight, but this was not the primary reason He came. Miracles were performed for a greater purpose – to cause the observer to believe that Jesus was indeed the Son of God (John 20:31). Jesus came to give spiritual sight to spiritually blind people, to open the eyes of their hearts to see and believe.
John 9:39-41 – And Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, so 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.
2 Corinthians 4:3-4,6 – And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
He came to set free those who are oppressed.
The Jews were oppressed by Rome, but that was not their real enemy. The literal read is the Greek word thrauō or bruised meaning to break into pieces, to shatter, to smite. Jesus came to crush the head of Satan and destroy any and all power over God’s favored creatures, the human race. In our place, Jesus was bruised, oppressed by the very powers of hell, but He came to set us free. Can’t escape your “demons?” That’s why Jesus came.
Genesis 3:14-15 – The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you will go, and dust you will eat all the days of your life; and I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise Him on the heel.”
Acts 10:38 – You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.
He came to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.
Jesus only read half of Isaiah’s prophecy. The next line says, “and the day of vengeance of our God.” His first coming was to bring freedom, redemption, the offer of peace with God, spiritual sight for those who want to see. The day of vengeance will come later, at His second coming, when the opportunity for rescue and release has passed us by. By reading just this portion of Isaiah and proclaiming its fulfillment, Jesus was making His motives clear.
2 Corinthians 6:2 – For He says, “At the acceptable time I listened to you, And on the day of salvation I helped you.” Behold, now is “the acceptable time,” behold, now is “the day of salvation.”
How about you? We are still living in the “favorable year of the Lord.” Have you acknowledged your spiritual poverty? Are you tired of being held captive by sin, oppressed by the devil? If you still can’t quite see the truth, ask Jesus to open your eyes. His motives are pure, and He will not turn away those who seek Him with a sincere heart.