As was His custom, Jesus entered into the synagogue. As a guest rabbi, he was handed the scroll for the morning’s reading and read from Isaiah 61,
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19 CSB).
He rolled the scroll up and sat down. Expecting teaching from the Rabbi, the people heard a bold, audacious, and even arrogant claim. “Today, as you listen, this Scripture is fulfilled” (Luke 4:21). The people knew Isaiah 61 to be a Messianic passage promising the Messiah would usher in the year of Jubilee at his coming. He would free the captives and set the people free.
Besides the assurance that Jesus is the Messiah, Jesus is also teaching us a few things about His ministry. The year of the Lord’s favor corresponds to the year of Jubilee in Leviticus 25. It was in the 50th year and became a year of rest. It was a time to release people from debt, set slaves free, return property, and in a general sense, a year to restore and renew.
What lessons can we learn from Jesus’ words?
1. Jesus is so much more than Joseph’s son.
When the audience heard Jesus’ bold claim, they asked, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” Since it was a Messianic claim, it would be arrogant and utterly wrong if he were only Joseph’s son. However, Luke has spent the first four chapters teaching the reader that Jesus is so much more. He is the God/Man; He is the eternal Son of God. For more information on this topic, see my message from February 6th at https://www.facebook.com/fsbcsalina.
2. To set us free, Jesus must be our atoning sacrifice.
Even at that moment, Jesus knew His work would lead to Calvary. He knew He was born to die. The year of Jubilee was ushered in with a trumpet blast on the Day of Atonement. Jesus would enter into the Holy of Holies with His blood to free the captives and give us life.
3. The time is now!
Also, as you read this, you can’t miss what else Jesus was doing. He stopped the verse in mid-sentence. Isaiah’s text goes on to say that the day will also bring “God’s vengeance” (see Isaiah 61:2). Why did Jesus leave this off? The first advent of our Lord means a year of favor. He was coming to set you and me free from the bondage of sin. To do that, he would innocently die on a cross like a goat on the Day of Atonement. His first advent ushered in the Year of Favor. Make no mistake, His second coming will usher in the vengeance of God.
Therefore, act while there is still time. Last night at our Life Group, we read Colossians 2:13, where Paul reminds us that Christ “made us alive and forgave all our trespasses.” This is the year of favor. This is the release of captives. How did Jesus do it? Paul writes, “by nailing it to the cross” (Col 2:14b). In Jesus’ atoning death, he forgave all my sins. He set me free. He has ushered in the year of favor. You may not feel as if you are living in a year of favor, but the promise of the Messiah is eternal. There is always a present reality, that often is hard and difficult but God always promises future grace and glory. His promises are sure. Learn to look beyond your present pain and see God’s future promises through Jesus, the Messiah.