Luke 4 is one of the most important passages of Scripture to describe the ministry of Jesus. This is the passage describing Jesus’ return to His hometown of Nazareth. It occurred on the heels of Jesus’ going to the wilderness to be tempted by Satan (Luke 4:1-13).
As was His custom, Jesus joined the people of the city in worship in the synagogue.
The ruler of the synagogue carried out important duties. He announced the services, kept the synagogue clean. and handled the scrolls for reading. Because Jesus had become a prominent person in Galilee, the leader of the synagogue chose the scroll of Isaiah and asked Jesus to read and comment.
Jesus chose Isaiah 61, a poem about the Suffering Servant. (Isaiah 53 is the best known of the Suffering Servant passages). When Jesus finished reading, He announced the passage had been fulfilled in their hearing.
As the people of Nazareth listened, two aspects of the passage would jump out at them. First, they would think of the year of Jubilee as described in Leviticus 25, a time when social and economic change would occur. Second, they would have known many rabbis understood the passage from Isaiah as a reference to the Messiah.
In these senses, the “acceptable year of the Lord” referred to the time they had all been looking and waiting for.
Because a prophet is not honored by his own family and in his own town, the people of Nazareth had a hard time accepting what Jesus said. They also resented the favorable light in which Jesus presented the Gentiles. They sought to kill Him.
This passage is an early indication Jesus knew who He was and what He had been called to do.
Notice the parts of this passage.
The Spirit of the Lord was upon Him.
He was anointed to bring Good News to the poor.
The Father sent Him to announce release to the captives, recovering of sight to the blind, and to set at liberty the bruised.
In conclusion Jesus announced this was what the people of Israel longed for and waited on. This was the “acceptable year of the Lord” or the “year of the Lord’s favor.”
How easy it is to miss the things that matter and really count. The people of Nazareth had the messiah before them and missed the message.
You and I can do the same. The Spirit of the Lord is still at work. He is still setting captives free and causing the spiritually (and physically) blind to see. He is still at work among those who long for the day of the Lord.
Because of their prejudice and spiritual blindness, those folks missed God’s work.
May it not be so for you and me.
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