TO LIBERATE AND PROCLAIM
Lord, we believe that You fulﬁll the Old Testament qualiﬁcation of Messiah.
Read LUKE 4:14–21
Jesus Rejected at Nazareth
14 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. 15 He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.
16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
18 “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,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”[a]
20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
a Luke 4:19 Isaiah 61:1,2 (see Septuagint); Isaiah 58:6
New International Version (NIV)
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Holy Spirit, who reveals the truth to us, come to us now and speak into our hearts as we read God’s Word and ponder its meaning for us this day.
The Spirit has come upon Jesus at his baptism (Luke 3:22), empowering him to undertake his new and difficult path. The Spirit has then driven him into the desert (Luke 4:1) to learn how, in the power of that same Spirit, he can summon the inner resolve to overcome the temptation to deviate from that path. Now the Spirit empowers him for his ministry of teaching and healing (14). Luke’s research provided a range of incidents from the opening of Jesus’ ministry; this one in the Nazareth synagogue clearly suits him well, emphasizing both Spirit and Scripture so early in Jesus’ ministry. This scene portrays the forthcoming ways in which people would respond to him.
Faithful as always to the discipline and rhythms of the old covenant, Jesus goes into the synagogue “as was his custom” (16). Jewish synagogue worship at that time began with the Shema prayer from the Torah: “Hear O Israel…” (e.g., Deut. 6:4), followed by the Ten Commandments, the eighteen benedictions, the readings, the psalms, the sermon, and the blessing. By the ﬁrst century, the three- year cycle of Torah readings was set, but readings from the prophets were probably not. While Jesus could time himself to be there for the Isaiah reading, it is more likely that he has chosen it himself.
Jesus the Messiah knows now that he is the bodily fulﬁllment of Isaiah’s anointed one. By using the Greek text rather than Hebrew (Isa. 61:1,2, Septuagint), Luke has arranged the Isaiah reading to emphasize the active verbs—to bring good news, to liberate, and to proclaim. These actions will mark the whole of Jesus’ ministry. He will not flinch, though these actions ultimately lead to his death. They will then deﬁne the missionary vision of the early church, which also did not flinch, despite the martyrdom of thousands. These same actions must dominate our witness today.
Come, Holy Spirit; empower us to proclaim the good news of Jesus faithfully, and without flinching, to the end.
Lord, teach us to minister in such a way as to reflect Your methods and level of compassion.