Luke records for us here Jesus reading from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah in his hometown of Nazareth. If we read this, it is clear that Jesus was announcing to those in his hometown who He was, the long awaited Messiah. But, He might have said more by what He left out here than in what He actually read. It’s very subtle, and we can only grasp what it meant based in the hindsight we have in knowing how things all played out, both in the teaching of Jesus and His allowing Himself to be taken to the cross as our ultimate sin sacrifice.
Jesus reads for those listening from the prophet Isaiah, in what is now known as chapter 61. This was a key piece of scripture for the people listening, very well known. You might say it was their version of John 3:16. Everybody knew and understood this as predicting the coming Messiah to save Israel. So, Jesus gets up up and reads – “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.” And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Their eyes were fixed on Him. They were waiting on what He would say next. They KNEW what he would say next.
Except they had no idea. What he said next would change history. He would announce to all listening that He was (and is) Messiah. “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” “I am Messiah” is what Jesus is saying. The spirit of the Lord is upon, I bring Good News to the poor!! I am here to free the prisoners, and give sight to the blind!! I am here to bring justice to the world, and declare the year of the Lords favor!! But…what did he not say? Exactly what those listening knew he would – and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn. The people of Israel were waiting for a warrior Messiah, a warrior king, who would gain their vengeance on the world for all the trials and misfortunes they had gone through. They were waiting on a king as they understood it – their own pharaoh, their own King of Babylon, who would rule by sword and power. Jesus came on this day and announced that He was Messiah – but he was not a Messiah of vengeance. He was coming to bring freedom and peace, not violence. Those listening certainly understood what He left out, but not the significance of what it still means to this day. 2000 years later we barely get it, even in hindsight. Jesus Christ does not rule from a throne based on vengeance and violence. He rules from the throne of the cross. But just as some in Israel are still waiting for their warrior king (How’s that working out?), we await for the return of Jesus riding a white horse, a sword coming from His mouth, lasers shooting from His eyes, and dragons rising from the sea to devour and kill all those who oppose us. We read Revelation and sing songs about the lion and the lamb when there is NO lion in Revelation, only a slaughtered little lamb. We still wait for our own warrior king, forgetting we serve Jesus. We know he came to bring peace not vengeance, but that was only for THEM. He’ll return taking vengeance at His second coming. Except He won’t. There will be no day of vengeance, either for Israel or the Christian world. If Christ wanted vengeance, He didn’t need a second coming. The devil offered that to Him in the wilderness the first time around, Christ’s vengeance will come in the day his great commission is fulfilled and completed, when His Good News has been preached to all the nations. The day His New Jerusalem is completed here on earth. His vengeance, if there is such a thing, will be peace on earth.
“And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, “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.” And he rolled up the scroll and 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.””
Luke 4:16-21 ESV
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord ‘s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn;”
Isaiah 61:1-2 ESV