A Better Jubilee
(Message delivered by brother Li Yahui at the National Day Outing on 7 August 2015)

Text: Luke 4:16-22a; Leviticus 25:8-12

The 50th year is regarded internationally as an important and special year. This applies not only for individuals, but also for nations. It is commonly called the Golden Jubilee. It is a year which is worthy to be remembered and celebrated.

This year is the Golden Jubilee of Singapore’s independence. We can see the effort taken by the government to develop the nation. Every Singaporean and PR’s family received the SG50 package to commemorate the Gold-en Jubilee. Many activities have been taking place in various parts of Singapore. We do rejoice for the 50th year of Singapore’s independence. It is indeed a most joyous occasion.

If the Golden Jubilee of Singapore is such a joyous occasion, then the Jubilee declared in the Bible is even more so. Why is this so?

In Luke 4:18-19, we see a description of the mission which God sent His only begotten Son Jesus to do. Jesus is to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. This is an allusion to the jubilee year of the Jews in the Old Testament (OT).

Leviticus 25 describes various laws concerning the Jubilee. In verses 10 and 11, the Bible says that the 50th year shall be a Jubilee for the children of Israel. In that year, they must proclaim liberty in the land of Israel. Liberty and freedom are the main message of the Jubilee. In the context of Leviticus 25, the poor ones are those who should be set free. In those days, those who are poor would either mortgage their land to the debtee, or make himself to be slave of that man. However, on the Jubilee year, their lands will be restored (25:28), and they shall be set free (25:39-41). The Sabbatical year (7th year) also has a similar function. In Deuteronomy 15:12, the Bible states that the slave shall be made free in the release year (7th year), but there is no mention of any return of land. This stands in contrast with the Jubilee year, where both land and people shall be made free. As this release is purely God’s grace upon the poor ones, the Jubilee year is also called “the year of the Grace of God”.

With this understanding in mind, let us consider the “acceptable year of the Lord” in Luke 4:19. By considering the context of 4:19, we see that this “acceptable year” is related to liberty (v.18) and grace (v. 18a; v. 22–gracious words) from God. This idea is encapsulated in the theme of freedom and liberty of the national Jubilee of Israel. The national Jubilee of Israel is thus a picture of a greater Jubilee to be proclaimed by the Lord Je-sus Christ Himself!

If the Old Testament Jubilee is indeed good, then the Jubilee proclaimed by Jesus is even better. Why? Firstly, the Old Testament dealt with the physical freedom from the bondage of the debtee — the land and body, but the Jubilee proclaimed by Christ emphasizes on the spiritual freedom of the people from the bondage of sins. The Bible says, “The Spirit of the Lord is up-on me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor;”. The poor ones here do not refer to those in physical poverty but those who are poor in spirit–who are sensitive to their spiritual poverty. They are those who are humble before God, and know that they are sinners who have no righteousness of their own whereby they can be saved. They know that they can be saved only by the rich grace and mercy of God, and they turn to Christ for salvation. These are also described as the “brokenhearted” — their hearts are deeply afflicted and broken because of their sinfulness. The “captives” are those who are under the bondage of sin (Romans 6:20). The “blind” are those who are spiritually blind and cannot see the truth of God (John 9:39; 2 Corinthians 4:4). Lastly, the “bruised” ones are those who are under the bondage and oppression of the devil.

It is to such people that the Gospel, the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ, is preached. What is the Gospel? It is the good news of a perfect Savior who was born to deliver sinners from the bondage and condemnation of sin. We all are sinners, and the wages of sin is death (Romans 3:23; 6:23). The eternal condemnation is the Lake of Fire. Yet, God our Creator loves us. He sent His own begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is fully man and God, into this world for us. Jesus lived a perfect and sinless life in this world to earn the righteousness for us, and He also was crucified on the cross to bear the punishment of our sins. He shed His precious blood on the cross. He died and was buried. However, death had no power over Him and He was resurrected on the third day. He is our perfect Savior! When a sinner receives Christ as his personal Saviour, His blood washes away all his sins, and covers him with the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Then, the sinner becomes a saint. He is saved! He is made free! This is the Jubilee which is declared by Jesus! Christ has come to heal, to deliver, to recover and to set sinners at liberty. Dear friends, do you know that you are in bondage of sins? Do you want to be free? You can, if you repent of your sins and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Secondly, this Jubilee is far better than any earthly Jubilee because it is open to all men. Anyone can participate in this Jubilee. The national Jubilee of Israel is only for the children of Israel, but the Jubilee of Christ is for all. The earthly Jubilee is held once every 50 years, but the Jubilee of Christ is constantly open to all.

Indeed, the Old Testament Jubilee and Singapore’s Golden Jubilee are joyous occasions. However, the Jubilee proclaimed by Christ is far better. It is far better because it is not limited to a particular nation or people – it is for all! It is far better because it involves spiritual and heavenly blessings. It is far better because the benefit is eternal, not temporal. Will you not be a participant of this Jubilee? You can participate only by the way of faith–faith in the Lord Jesus Christ alone! Will you, my friend?
As for those of us who are believers in Christ, we must proclaim the news of this better Jubilee to our loved ones. The Golden Jubilee of Singapore is a perfect occasion to do so. Let us all rejoice in the Jubilee of our Lord Je-sus Christ!