Luke 4:17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
Luke 4:18 “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,
Luke 4:19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Luke 4:20 ¶ 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.
Luke 4:21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
Luke 4:22 And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?”
The coolest thing about this is that Jesus didn’t get up there and say “Hey guys, roll me out Isaiah 61.” There were set readings for every Sabbath of the year, kind of like some denominations have a liturgical calendar of readings. The reading for this date that Jesus showed up to visit the Synagogue was Isaiah 61.
Jesus has just been in the desert for 40 days, then tempted by the devil then He recovered and traveled back to His hometown of Nazareth. He’s probably physically recovered from the fast, but nobody has seen Him for about 2 months. He wasn’t much of a public figure yet, so that might not have been noticed, but the people knew Him because He grew up there.
It’s great, whenever someone quotes the Old Testament in the New Testament, to go back and read all around what they quoted. It gives you a better insight and you don’t feel like somebody just quoted a funny movie that you never saw.
In this case, Isaiah 61 is a revolutionary reading. In the past, rabbis might have read it and then talked about the hope of the Messiah coming and how great the restored world would be.
To hear Jesus say “Today this comes true!” would have been exciting and controversial to say the least. He obviously said more about it. The custom was for a rabbi to read the reading and then explain and ask rhetorical questions of the crowd, and maybe answer questions too as their teaching technique.
When it was over, the whole crowd was amazed at the “gracious words that came from His mouth.” Even Luke, in writing it, has trouble giving Jesus credit for the words because they were so awesome.
We don’t know what Jesus said, and it isn’t really safe to try to make up what it could be, but a reading of Isaiah 61 with an attitude of grace and mercy and Christ’s active salvation can help.
Is. 61:1 ¶ 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;
Is. 61:2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
Is. 61:3 to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.
Is. 61:4 They shall build up the ancient ruins;
they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations.
Is. 61:5 ¶ Strangers shall stand and tend your flocks;
foreigners shall be your plowmen and vinedressers;
Is. 61:6 but you shall be called the priests of the LORD;
they shall speak of you as the ministers of our God;
you shall eat the wealth of the nations,
and in their glory you shall boast.
Is. 61:7 Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion;
instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot;
therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion;
they shall have everlasting joy.
Is. 61:8 ¶ For I the LORD love justice;
I hate robbery and wrong;
I will faithfully give them their recompense,
and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
Is. 61:9 Their offspring shall be known among the nations,
and their descendants in the midst of the peoples;
all who see them shall acknowledge them,
that they are an offspring the LORD has blessed.
Is. 61:10 ¶ I will greatly rejoice in the LORD;
my soul shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
Is. 61:11 For as the earth brings forth its sprouts,
and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up,
so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise
to sprout up before all the nations.