GETTING THE MESSAGE/Isaiah 61:1-3
If you were a Jew in Israel at the time of Jesus, you were waiting for the long expected Messiah promised in God’s word. You would have been familiar with the book of Isaiah which is rich in Messianic prophecies. In the first 3 chapters of Luke we find prophecies of Christ from Isaiah fulfilled.
Some examples: In Luke 1, the angel says Mary will conceive and bear the “Son of the Most High.” Isaiah 7 says; “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and he shall be called Immanuel (God with us).” Then in Luke 2 we read of angels appearing at the birth of the child and singing of the glory of God and peace on earth. Isaiah 9 promised: “Unto us a child is born, to us a son is given,” who among other things will be, “Mighty God, Prince of Peace.”
Likewise the appearance of John the Baptist in Luke 3 fulfills Isaiah 40:3-5 of “one calling in the wilderness to prepare the way of the Lord.” The obvious unity of prophecies with the person and work of Christ is given by God so that we will believe in Christ. This is God reaching out to us to assure us Christ is the Savior he has sent. In Luke 4, Jesus begins his ministry, in fulfilment of Scripture.
He had become the news of Galilee by all he was doing and saying, so people were very curious about him. He goes into a synagogue in Nazareth, is handed a scroll of the book of Isaiah, finds the place he is looking for, and reads Isaiah 61:1: “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.”
Jesus then sat down and Luke tells us, “And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed upon him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” So the Lord Jesus affirms that he is the one Isaiah and all the prophets wrote of; he announces the salvation of God.
The gospel is the good word of God to us. It reveals the good God to us, and the good Christ. God made all the promises about Christ, and in doing so made himself a debtor to his Word. Christ is the Word of the Father, who reveals all from the bosom of his Father. Therefore he is named ‘the Word.’
The grace of God shines in Christ, and all that is in Christ is conveyed to us by the Word, by the promise. Christ came in the “fullness of time” when the time was right by God’s timing. He will come a second time accordingly, when God’s time is complete.
In between these comings by Christ, the gospel is the Word from him. He will come in glory and in judgment when he comes again, but that time is not yet. Until that time comes, he holds out the ministry of the gospel, the promise of God, that men may be saved from their sin.
And wherever the gospel is, his Spirit gives stirrings in souls. If people do not yield, it is because of rebellion in their hearts. More grace of the Spirit is offered than is accepted, so that the mouths of men shall be stopped. But to those who receive him, he gives the right to become children of God.
We see here the essence of the gospel in Christ’s words. He proclaims “liberty to the captives,” and “the year of the Lord’s favor.” When Jesus began his ministry it was the year of jubilee. In the Old Testament all slaves were set free, their debt forgiven at this time.
The jubilee was a pattern looking ahead to the spiritual liberty Christ gives to captives. He sets us free from the debt of our sin before God, from the oppression of the devil, and the power of death. He declares a jubilee for the captives. Christ said if he sets you free you will be free indeed.
In the Old Testament jubilee, if a slave wanted to remain a slave his ear was pierced to mark him as a slave perpetually. It is a pity that now, in the glorious jubilee of the gospel, where all the promises of God are offered in Christ, some resolve still to be slaves, in love with sin and the world.
But the more noble spirits, who see the glory of Christ and the wonder of his salvation, especially desire spiritual liberty. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. Wherever a man resists the gospel of Christ, there you will find bondage. If we would see the gift of life God has blessed us with, it is in Christ. Let this be the year of the Lord’s favor for you. Look to Christ the Lord.