I confess to you that I like to make things overcomplicated. Instead of doing things the simple, straightforward way, I have been known to spend hours or even days thinking about a project and then deciding on the complicated way.
As I’ve probably mentioned, years ago I was a framing carpenter. When I was on the job, I had to do things the simple and quick way, otherwise I would get an earful from my foreman. But when I got home and went to the garage? That was the time that I had all to myself. That was the time I could needlessly complicate matters.
I remember building a little end table for my sister out of scrap 1x6. I wanted to figure out a way for it to be sturdy and elegant at the same time, while hiding the screws. I didn’t have much in the way of tools: a circular saw and a handheld jigsaw along with a drill. It was wonderful. It was wonderful to puzzle over the many possibilities.
It’s the same way with sermons. I puzzle over these things more than I should, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if I make them needlessly complicated. I recognize this tendency in myself and I try to go back through these sermons and simplify and make things more clear. But I still get the sense that they are more complicated than they need to be.
A perfect example of this occurred this week. The reading from Isaiah is about as straightforward as you are going to find as long as you understand one thing. The one thing to understand is this. It is Jesus who is talking. It is Jesus. And we know it is Jesus because he has said so. Let me just read you the proof. [Read Luke 4:14-21] Jesus fulfills this scripture because those were his words back in Isaiah that the prophet wrote down. They weren’t Isaiah’s words; they were Jesus’ words.
Jesus declares that he has been anointed by God to bring good news, to comfort those in sorrow, to free those who are imprisoned, to proclaim God’s favor to us. That’s what the prophecy said he would do. When he came to live amongst us that is what he did. And that is what he does now.
Are you in sorrow? I know that some of you are. Then Jesus has come for you.
Do you find yourself imprisoned somehow, unable to get free? I bet that some of you are. Then Jesus has come for you.
Do you need some good news instead of bad? Does the world and its cares weigh heavily on your shoulders? Then Jesus has come for you.
As always I am tempted to make this more complicated than it is, but it really is this simple. Jesus has come for you. Jesus has come for you.