Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

My Dear Shepherds,

Isaiah’s words had waited like watchmen on the walls for centuries until one Sabbath in Nazareth when Jesus stood to read.

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18–19)

Then, with “the eyes of everyone fastened on him,” Jesus said, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Luke tells us how people reacted to Jesus’ proclamations long before he records one of Jesus’ sermons. In Capernaum, “They were amazed at his teaching, because his words had authority.” Then that same synagogue service was suddenly interrupted by the outburst of a demon, whom Jesus banished: “Be quiet! Come out of him!” Luke wrote, “All the people were amazed and said to each other, ‘What words these are! With authority and power he gives orders to impure spirits and they come out!’”

When the Spirit was upon Jesus the effect was astonishing authority. The same kind of authority that banished demons was present when he proclaimed good news to the poor, and, for that matter, later when he raised the dead. Instead of being passive listeners, people found themselves spellbound, as subjects hearing the king. Teaching seems almost too mild a word for what Jesus did. He decreed; he proclaimed.

And now, all these generations later, here we are, commissioned by the Lord as his Wordworkers (“apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers”). Incredibly, the Spirit of the Lord can also be on us! All believers are commissioned to “proclaim good news” (euaggelízō), to be sure, but we are particularly authorized to “proclaim” the gospel in all its biblical height and depth, length and breadth, as we preach, counsel, and lead in Jesus’ name.

But you know as well as I that preachers sometimes manhandle our holy mandate. Preaching can so accustom pastors to divine authority wrapped in the sound of their own voices that they take to proclaiming their own opinions and visions as God’s. Preachers become mere blowhards and their people are blindsided.

On the other hand, what an extraordinary privilege it is for any of us to stand in Jesus’ shoes, as it were, with the Spirit of the Lord upon us and the proclamation of God’s good news on our lips! There is simply nothing in human experience like declaring the Word of God borne along with the authority and vitality of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes it is more exhausting than exhilarating, but you must admit, there is nothing else like it.

Proclaim (kērússō) means to announce publicly, to herald. I get my image of a herald from the British royal court—a solemn, stately official in a long red coat heavily embroidered with gold lions and braid, accented with royal blue. I like the old timey version when the herald carried a long trumpet in one hand to summon the king’s subjects from hither and yon, and a royal decree rolled up around wooden spindles in the other hand. After trumpeting for attention he bellows, “Hear ye! Hear ye!”

I’ve never worn ministerial vestments but if I could design my own, I’d go with that herald outfit. I’d stride down the center aisle on Sunday morning and blow a holy Reveille. Then I’d unroll, say, the Isaiah scroll, and intone, “Hear ye! Hear ye! Jesus Christ our Lord proclaims good news to the poor ….”

Be ye glad!

Like this article?

Leave a comment