April 17, 2015
Luke 4:18, 19
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
Here is another mission statement describing the ministry of Jesus Christ. It is found in Luke 4:18 and 19:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach
the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach
deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty
those who are oppressed, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
But that is not the only place this mission statement is found. It was given as a prophecy in Isaiah 61:1 and 2, about 700 years before our Lord walked this earth. And it was generally recognized as applying to the coming Messiah.
This declaration in Luke 4 happened at the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry, after He had gone through 40 days of testing on the Mount of Temptation (traditionally a peak near the Dead Sea), recorded in Luke 4:1 through 13. His first ministry tour was in Galilee, and after “…He taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all…He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up.” (Luke 4:14, 15). It was there, in the Nazareth synagogue, that He “…stood up to read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written…” the prophecy quoted above. (Luke 4:16, 17).
Remember that Jesus’ ministry was started in other Galilean cities and towns before He came to Nazareth, and, as it says in Luke 4:14, He was “…glorified by all.” So His reputation preceded Him to Nazareth. In Luke 4:20, it says that after He read that powerful prophecy from Isaiah, “…[t]hen He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him.” Apparently, the speculations were going around such as were later voiced in John 7:40 and 41: “Many from the crowd…said, ‘Truly this is the Prophet.’ Others said, ‘This is the Christ.’ ” “The Prophet” refers to the one who is to precede the Messiah, identified as Elijah in Malachi 4:5 and 6 (see also Isaiah 40:3-5; Matthew 3:3; Luke 1:13-17). It is thought that one of the two witness described in Revelation 11:1 through 13 is Elijah, preparing the world for Christ’s second coming. Remember also, according to II Kings 2:11, Elijah never died. He bodily “…went up by a whirlwind into heaven.” So he would not have to be resurrected from the dead!
But back to Jesus in the Nazareth synagogue. After reading the Isaiah prophecy, the Lord told the people directly, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” He was telling them that He was the Messiah! And the people were impressed! It says in Luke 4:22, “So all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth.”
But something went terribly wrong! For just moments later what took place is recorded in Luke 4:28 and 29:
Then all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled
with wrath, and rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to
the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him
down over the cliff.
What went wrong? Jesus pointed out the shallowness of their belief in Him in Luke 4:23 through 27:
And He said to them, “You will surely say this proverb to Me, ‘Physician,
heal yourself! Whatever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here
in Your country.’” Then He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, no prophet is
accepted in his own country. But I tell you truly, many widows were in
Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and
six months, and there was a great famine throughout the land; but to none
of them was Elijah sent, except to Zarephath, in the region of Sidon, to a
woman who was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of
Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed, except Naaman the
The hometown Jews wanted more proof! They were reasoning, “Is this not Joseph’s son? ” (Luke 4:22). They wanted to accept Jesus on their own terms! After all, they knew Him growing up! “He’s the local boy, the son of a carpenter!” But Jesus was telling them just to consider His teaching and the signs and wonders accompanying that teaching – and believe! If they did not, they were not God’s privileged people! When He wouldn’t come up (or should we say down!) to their expectations, they got so angry, they planned His death!
I have been in Nazareth. It is built on top of a mountain, and the cliff over which they planned to throw Jesus is a vertical drop of maybe 100 feet!
This incident shows us two things:
• We come to Jesus on His terms only! He is the Savior, we are the sinners. He died for us, paying the price of redemption so we can go free! We receive His freely given sacrifice by faith, believing it is for ME that He suffered, died and lives again.
• If we refuse to come to the Lord on His terms, the other options are to escape from His claims of being the Savior and Judge of all the world! We try to escape by either running away or trying to get rid of Him!
…(See John 3:16-21).
I have chosen the first option! Have you?