Aphesis: The Gift of Shalom

3 March 2012

Christopher J Wiles

pastor | writer | speaker

The background of Jesus’ life’s work comes from the book of Isaiah.  In Luke 4:16-21, Jesus walks into the synagogue.  It’s no accident that the scroll of Isaiah is handed to Him.  Jesus unrolls it, and reads to His audience a few selections from the prophet’s writing:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Jesus’ affirmation of this text makes it clear that healing is a central task of His mission.  Jesus is said to “set at liberty those who are oppressed.”  The phrase “set at liberty” comes from the single Greek word aphesis, which usually means “forgiveness” (1:77; 3:3; 24:47; Acts 2:38; 5:31; 10:43; 13:38; 26:18).

Which means that Jesus is more than a political revolutionary.  He comes to release people from more than just spiritual bondage, but to set right all things that have happened through sin.

THE GIFT OF SHALOM

N.T. Wright says that the healing miracles of Jesus are the gift of God’s shalom.  Shalom is a Hebrew word packed with meaning: it most literally means “peace,” but in the broader Biblical context, refers to God’s “goodness,” His “soundness” and His “wholeness.”

Cornelius Plantinga defined sin as “the vandalism of God’s shalom.”  Jesus came to put back together what had been broken.

But while the early Jews quickly came to expect a political revolutionary, they instead got a wandering Rabbi, who was constantly making confusing and challenging statements about His own people.  And what’s worse, is that within three years He’d attracted enough negative attention to warrant crucifixion.  Crucifixion was more than a death sentence – it also served to shame the person and his followers.

Yet this was the central means by which God planned to bring His shalom back to earth:

“On him was the punishment that brought us peace [shalom], and by His wounds we are healed (Isaiah 53:5)

We looked for peace [shalom], but no good came; for a time of healing, but behold, terror. (Jeremiah 14:19)

In the film Spitfire Grill, one of the lead characters is bandaging another’s wound.  She reflects: “You suppose if a wound goes so deep, the healing of it might hurt as bad as what caused it?”

Jesus endures pain in order to heal all wounds.

The miracles we’ll see in the sermon “No Reservations” reveal a God who is relentless in bringing peace and order to His creation.  But the starting point is not the political landscape, but the thorny brambles of the human heart.

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3 March 2012

Christopher J Wiles

pastor | writer | speaker

Chris is a writer and speaker. He currently serves as teaching pastor at Tri-State Fellowship and as a research writer for Docent Research Group.

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