The December 6, 1999 cover of Time featured a painting of Jesus that introduced a series of articles about His impact not only on our time, but also on all humanity for all time. Reynolds Price, the writer of one of the articles, made this statement: "A serious argument can be made that no one else's life has proved remotely as powerful and enduring as that of Jesus."
That is true. There has never been, nor will there ever be, anyone like Jesus. He stands out from all others. He came at a strategic time in human history, and the world has not been the same since.
The time for Jesus' arrival was just right, according to God's calendar (Galatians 4:4-5). The Creator of the universe, Almighty God, came to earth in human form. Why did He come? We find the answer recorded in Luke 4.
It was Sabbath day, and Jesus had come into the synagogue, as His custom had been. The attendant in charge of the scroll that particular day gave it to Him to read. Jesus opened the scroll of Isaiah and read:
"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord." (Isaiah 61:1-2 NKJV)
First, He declared that He had come to preach good news to the poor. The word poor speaks of poverty of any kind, not just poverty in which there is a lack of money, resources, or possessions. This word speaks of a conscious moral and spiritual poverty.
Second, He said, "He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted." While there are a lot of ways to get a broken heart, no one seems to be able to mend one. No psychologist can do it. No surgeon can do it. But Jesus said, "He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted." He is the Great Physician.
Third, Jesus said that He came "to proclaim liberty to the captives." This word captives could also be translated, "prisoners of war." The Bible teaches that the devil has taken us captive to do his will (2 Timothy 2:26). Jesus came to proclaim liberty.
Fourth, He came to set free those who are oppressed. Another translation reads, "those who are crushed with life." Maybe you are feeling crushed with life right now. Jesus came to set you free.
Finally, He came to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, that time when God is looking in grace on those who are separated from Him by sin. The acceptable year of the Lord is now. The Bible says, "Now is the accepted time. Now is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:2).
It's interesting to note that Jesus stopped reading at this point. The passage from which He was reading goes on to say, "and the day of vengeance of our God." But Jesus stopped short of that. Why? Because "the day of vengeance of our God" has not yet come. The purpose of His first coming was to preach the acceptable year of the Lord, in essence, to proclaim that salvation is available to all. The purpose of His second coming will be to execute the vengeance of the Lord.
We don't know when Jesus will come again. No one does. But He will come when He is ready, at the appointed time. A day is coming when Jesus Christ will return to this earth for His people. We call it the rapture of the church, described in Scripture as happening in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye (1 Corinthians 15:52).
Jesus came the first time to give His life as a ransom for many. He came to lay His life down. At the appointed time, that is exactly what He did. At the appointed time, He was born in a manger in Bethlehem. At the appointed time, He was crucified on the cross of Calvary. At the appointed time, He rose again from the dead. At the appointed time, He will come again to this earth. God keeps His appointments. He is never late. He is never early. He is always right on time.
I love to tell stories—but I especially love to tell stories that point to Jesus. That’s one of the reasons I wrote a book about acting legend Steve McQueen. Steve was the King of Cool, but at the end of his life, he encountered the King of Kings. As a result, an American icon became a child of God. This book is our thank-you gift for your donation to Harvest Ministries today.