His First Sermon
By Pastor Jerry Donovan
In the fourth chapter of Luke, Jesus’s sermon in his hometown of Nazareth is not only a life-changing sermon, it is a life-changing act. God has now entered the world in the flesh of a human man so that no human being can be overlooked. No one can be left in a place of oppression. No one is unworthy of God’s good news.
He declares in his first sermon that he is fulfilling the Old Testament prophesies of Isaiah to preach good news to the poor, proclaim release to the prisoners, heal the blind and sick, liberate the oppressed, and proclaim the Jubilee year of the Lord’s favor. This passage is a fair rebuttal to the statement that, Jesus was born to die on the cross. According to Jesus’s own words, he was not born to die. He was born to save, free, and liberate.
The Berlin Wall was a guarded concrete barrier that physically and ideologically divided Berlin from 1961 to 1989. It was constructed by the German Democratic Republic, starting on August 13,1961. The Wall cut off West Berlin from virtually all of surrounding East Germany and East Berlin until government officials opened it in November 1989.
On June 26, 1963 U.S. President John F. Kennedy visited West Berlin. Before an audience of 450,000 he declared in his Ich bin ein Berliner speech the support of the United States for West Germany and especially the people of West Berlin. He said: “Two thousand years ago, the proudest boast was civis romanus sum (I am a Roman citizen). Today, from the world of freedom, the proudest boast is “ich bin ein Berliner!”… All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words ich bin ein Berliner!”
In a speech at the Brandenburg Gate on the 750th anniversary of Berlin on June 12, 1987, President Ronald Reagan challenged Mikhail Gorbachev, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, to tear down the Wall as a symbol of increasing freedom in the Eastern Bloc, made up of the countries of Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia. East Germany, Hungary, Poland, and Romania.
On Sept. 13, 1964 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. visited the wall and commented on the absurdity of the barricade as follows: “No man-made barrier can obliterate the fact that God’s children reside on both sides, he said. There is no East, no West, no North, no South, but one great fellowship of love throughout the whole, wide world…Wherever reconciliation is taking place, men are breaking down the dividing walls of hostility which separate them from their brothers, there Christ continues to perform his ministry of reconciliation.”
By 1961 3.5 million or 20% of the entire East German population had fled the Communist rulers in the East to freedom in the democratic countries of Western Europe. People continued trying to escape to the non-Communist ruled countries in the West resulting in at least 140 deaths.
I believe that the peace and abundance enjoyed by the peoples and countries of Western Europe was due to God keeping his promises spoken by Jesus in his first sermon. Words well worth revisiting today.