Luke chapter 4, verse 14.
And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about Him spread through all the surrounding district.
Isn’t that interesting?
And He began teaching in their synagogues and was praised by all. And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. 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 oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.”
This is found is Isaiah chapter 61 which we will look at later. In this passage you will see what He came to do, sort of a mission statement, to preach the gospel to the poor. Isn’t it interesting that He says that He came to preach to the poor? You would think that He would have been all-inclusive in who He came to preach to. But we learned in the parable of the sower that He did not intend for everyone to understand what He was saying.
Whatever it is that He was saying there, He intended to hide it. “It is the glory of God to hide a matter and it’s the glory of those who are in the reign to search out a matter” (see Pr. 25:2).
He was saying, “You know, some were not ready. Some cannot hear this.”
But, the ones who were among those that were intended to be on the inside, those He went to, here He refers to as the poor. Isn’t that interesting? I wonder what He means by that? There’s no room for the rich? That would exclude most of those reading this book. Most of those who would have the means to purchase this book are in the top 1% to 3% of the wealth of the world if they are just average. And if they are at poverty level here in the U.S., they’re still in the top 10% of the wealth of the world. Isn’t that amazing?
He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, and set free those who are oppressed.
That reminds me of Mark 16 where He says, “And these signs will follow. Demons will be cast out, and recovery of sight to the blind, healings will take place” (see Mk. 16:17-18).
I don’t know where you are in all this but I just declare it to you. I’ve witnessed it. I believe it. And, it is so a part of what I believe, these are my convictions, that I am not yet satisfied with His witness of the gospel that I am preaching. I am expecting signs and wonders to follow. That may not be in the context of where you are or how you’ve been raised. You don’t have to accept it because I’ve said it, but Jesus came to do that. And He has promised it to those who preach the gospel. Whatever that means, it means something!
Now, verse 20:
And He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
And all were speaking well of Him…
Isn’t that interesting? “And all were speaking well of Him.” Why were they speaking well of Him? Well, they were. Great stories had gone on about Him and their response to His sharing this text from Isaiah 61 is that:
And all were speaking well of Him, and wondering at the gracious words, that’s how it is written, at the gracious words which were falling from His lips; and they were saying, “Is this not Joseph’s son?”
And He was saying to them, “No doubt you will quote this proverb to Me, ‘Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we heard was done at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.’ But I tell you the truth, there were many widows in Israel in the days if Elijah, when the sky was shut up for three years and six months, when a great famine came over all the land; and yet Elijah was sent to none of them, but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”
What was He saying to His neighbors? Whatever He was saying, I’ll tell you how they interpreted it. All of a sudden the words were not gracious.
And all the people in the synagogue were filled with rage as they heard these things; and they got up and drove Him out of the city, and led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city had been built, in order to throw Him down the cliff.
They all thought well of Him, at the gracious words that fell from His lips. And this gentle lamb, this meek one, says, “You remember Naaman the leper? He wasn’t from Nazareth in Israel. God went out of Israel to find a leper to heal.
Well, what did they hear? Well, it may sound like what they heard was condemnation. It was, but why did they use the words “gracious” before that? Go with me to Isaiah 61. You need to see that Jesus stopped one phrase short of a verse that they all knew.
The Spirit if 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.
Woops! All of a sudden this passage takes a radical turn. Setting captives free, making blind men see, setting the oppressed free; what were those people hearing that encouraged them to believe that these were gracious words? They were captives of Rome. And they had been beaten down and were seeing themselves as a subservient nation. And what they were hearing was the Messiah who would come and in vengeance declare the day of the Lord. And He did it. He did it. He did it to the people of Nazareth who were not wanting the reign of Christ in their heart but were wanting to share the reign over the Romans, and the Ethiopians and the Egyptians and the Palestinians and the Syrians and the Greeks. Are you hearing? They couldn’t handle that.
But where did this rage come from? Jesus spoke a simple truth from Scripture and the people were filled with rage. How did this rage get there? It came upon the heart. Now stay with me here. This is important.
The religious among us do not want to hear about His reign. The religious among us are wanting to share in the world’s benefits of the reign, but are not wanting to share in the servanthood of the reign, and are not wanting to raise their own white flag of surrender in repentance over their own reign. These two things are going on.
For example, if you were to turn to Isaiah 42:1, you would see the paradox, the seeming contradiction.
“Behold My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry out or raise His voice…”
John the Baptist came out as one crying in the wilderness. Jesus’ voice could not be heard in the street.
“…Nor make His voice heard in the street. A bruised reed He will not break and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish.”
You know, this is the second time this passage says that He will bring forth justice. What brings forth justice? Government! He’s come to reign.
“He will not be disheartened or crushed until He has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands will wait expectantly for His law.”
He’s come to reign, this gentle one, this meek King, with a gentle voice, out on the battle field making His offer, saying, “I’ve come out here to reign. Will you surrender?”
And it’s just that way. And unless you hear it that way, you’ll not share it that way and if you don’t share it that way we will bring children into the kingdom who feel they have to perform, trying to live up to a demand, still living under a sense of the Law. Can you hear that? Some of us are still trying to live that way that’s why we’re yet to discover the reign of God in our life. That’s why we are not reigning with Christ over those things that are coming into our life. It’s because we’re trying to perform, a striving here to be. No, it’s an offer. Just raise your flag of surrender, inviting Him in to occupy the throne.