“And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book, and found the place where it was written, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are downtrodden, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.’ ” Luke 4:17-19 (NAS)
In putting together the key chronological events of Jesus the Christ’s earthly life and mission, as well as the early church’s development, doctrine, and destiny, the Holy Spirit chose and moved Luke to be the divine chronicler.
Carefully the Spirit inspired Luke to confidently note occasions of Old Testament prophetic utterances that were fulfilled. Here, Luke notes that Jesus cites (partially) this Messianic quote from the prophet Isaiah found in chapter 61, verses 1 & 2 : “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives, and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn.” (NAS) After handing the scroll of Isaiah back to the attendant, Jesus told His listeners He was the fulfillment of this prophesy. Shouldn’t it have been a tremendously comforting and encouraging announcement? You’d think so. But the following context shows that many in His hometown synagogue didn’t take to this declaration so readily. Jesus called them out by saying they’d want Him to prove His statement by a miracle or two, rather than trusting in the eyewitness reports concerning His miracles and the “news about Him” which had “spread throughout all the surrounding district”. (Luke 4:14) They really got smoked when He indicated Gentiles seemed to respond more appropriately to God’s spokesman and were part of the Lord’s design to include them in this favorable year of the LORD. A little lesson here for us to remember. You can lay the truth out, substantiate it, and people will still find a reason to reject it. The Bible can be proven (to the honest individual) to be true yet people will still rebuff it because of something within it that doesn’t sit particularly well with them. This is particularly true of religious folks who seem to still need an “experience” to confirm they’ve been saved, rather than simply trusting the proven word of God and acting upon it, just as Jesus Himself taught (C. f. Luke 6:46-49; Matt. 7:24). The written record of the word of God, the Bible, is still one of the greatest miracles the Lord has left for mankind to consider. It can be tested and found to be true. The gospel writers and Jesus Himself, verified who He said He was through the fulfilled prophecies in the written word accompanied by His miracles. Therefore, His decrees carry weight and authority. Something else to consider here. A closer look at Jesus’ reference to Isaiah’s proclamation reveals He left off the last part, “and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn”. Jesus came to proclaim the spiritual year of Jubilee, the release of the downtrodden captives held in bondage to do the will of the God of this world, to offer spiritual (in)sight to those who had been blinded. He came to save. But the Jesus that came to save is also the Jesus who said “I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled!” Luke 12:49. The message that saves, is also the one that condemns. If you believe who Jesus is, you act upon His words. If you don’t believe, or you need more than what God’s word provides, then the word acts upon you with the vengeance of our God! Many folks like the kind and loving Jesus but have real problems with the Jesus who judges through His word. We, like Jesus, can open the book and find the place where it is written, “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day.” (John 12:48) Once again brethren, do we see and appreciate the value of the written word? It confirms who Jesus is, our privileged position of who we are in Christ (released captives!), and the purpose God executed on our behalf in Christ so that we now will execute His purpose entrusted to us for the sake of those to be saved who would come to believe the gospel message. Amen.