“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.” ~ Luke 4:18-19
2016 is a Jubilee year (see post 2016 year of God’s manifested goodness). In Leviticus 25, Jubilee has promises attached to it…. Liberty for the captives, restoration of family, land, and possessions, increase from your field, freedom from oppression, safety and triple blessings!
In Luke 4, Jesus goes into the synagogue… which was his custom to read and teach the Word. The Word was teaching the Word! This time He went to the synagogue in Nazareth, His home town. Jesus had just begun His ministry and was becoming pretty well known for all of the signs, wonders and miracles that He was doing in Capernaum and the rest of the Galilee of the Gentiles.
The synagogue was an intimate place that allowed the Jewish people to gather in a less formal setting than the Temple itself. There were no high priests, no Levites, nor any standard liturgy. Anyone was allowed to get up and read from the sacred scrolls. The reader stood and the rabbi sat. They stood up to read the Torah, and they sat down to teach to Torah (Matthew 5:1-2:; Luke 5:3; Matthew 26:55;Luke 10:39;) In ancient times sitting was the posture of authority. Here, after reading the scroll of Isaiah 61:1-2, Jesus assumed the position of a rabbi….sitting while teaching.
The rabbis taught that these two verses were a messianic prophecy…. and everyone in that synagogue knew the acceptable year of the Lord was the great Jubilee of Leviticus 25. Jubilee was always a symbol of salvation.. this was the hope of Israel… that there would come a final Jubilee. When the Messiah would arrive and all the promises to Abraham and David would be fulfilled. They knew this passage well… it was their hope. So all eyes were fixed on Him as they waited until He sat down to teach on what He just read.
The only thing He said upon sitting was “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” What a short teaching… but so life changing for the people listening! Everyone else whoever read and taught on that scripture said “someday”…. but Jesus said TODAY! Jesus was saying everything you’ve been waiting for is here! The Jubilee you’ve been hoping for stands before you…. I AM your Jubilee… I am your Messiah…. the Messianic age (the age of Salvation) has begun… it is no longer a future hope. Your Messiah is here! Salvation has come! That they no longer had to be poor, broken hearted, captive, blind or bruised. That day Jubilee became a person…. not just a year in time!
Jubilee was a time to sound your trumpet of freedom! Freedom from slavery to Satan (Ephesians 1:17, 2:17; Colossians 1:12; Romans 6:14). Freedom from sickness and disease (Deuteronomy 28:61; Galatians 3:13). Freedom from debt to Satan and the World’s system (Colossians 2:13-14). Freedom from fear (1 John 2:5, 4:17-18). And a time of the commandment of blessing (Leviticus 25:20-21; Deuteronomy 28:8; Ephesians 1:3; Galatians 3:13-14).
He closed the Book….He left on the 2nd part of Isaiah 61:2 which was to proclaim the day of vengeance for our God. Jewish expectation was that when Messiah arrived, He would not only restore the fortunes of Israel, but would do so by destroying her enemies. They expected a Messiah who was a Warrior King! Such an exclusion from this reading of Scripture was unthinkable for most Jews.
Deliverance from captivity always included destructive judgement upon the enemies of God who enslaved or oppressed them…. the deliverance from Egypt…. the entrance into the Promise Land…. deliverance from the Babylonian Empire…. from the Medo-Persian Empire… why should the Roman Empire be any different. But God was doing a new thing!! Isaiah 43:19 “”Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert.”
He also gave them examples of Gentiles that Elijah and Elisha had done miracles among. When He begins talking to them in verses 23-27 He was addressing their neglect of being a people of The Blessing….Gen 12:2 “I have blessed you to be a blessing to ALL families of the earth” In verse 23 Jesus indicates that they are asking for signs and for the blessings to flow in their own town because so far Jesus had been doing miracles in Capernaum which was city of both Jews and Gentiles. Jesus was indicating that He had come also to be a light and a blessing to the Gentiles. This would include their Roman oppressors… unthinkable! Were they offended that He had taken a passage of vengeance and judgement upon the Gentiles and turned it into a passage of mercy and blessing? Were they offended that His gracious words…. or words of Grace were towards the Gentiles? He reminds them of Elijah and the widow from Sidon. He also reminds them of Elisha and Naaman the Syrian.
More on both of the widow and Namaan next time….