THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD!
16 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. 17 And the book of the prophet Isaiah was
handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was
written, 18 "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, 19 TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD." 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. 21 And He began to say
to them, "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." 22
And all were speaking well of Him, and wondering at the gracious words
which were falling from His lips.”
“He came to His own, and those who were
His own did not receive Him.” (John 1:11). – This is certainly the case
in this incident. – “Where He had been brought up,” we read in v.16.
Among these people who were gathered in the synagogue, gathered
around the Word of God, He had lived and functioned since He was a child.
And we can understand that Jesus must’ve had a special “emanation,”
where He stood in front of them – a dignity of His own. They must’ve
experienced the Holy Spirit’s (God’s) presence, both by His person and
in His speech. We can sense a special mood in this gathering, for
example only through the little bit that we read here about the assembly:
“- and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him.” (v.20b). And
then He reads from the Scripture, and begins to speak from the Scripture,
the Lords message for them, His people - and what do we read further on?
“And all were speaking well of Him, and wondering at the gracious words
which were falling from His lips.” (v.22a). Yes, this was a real great
meeting! Just think, they received the Word, and gave Him testimony!
– And they wondered over the word of mercy that He taught them.
Wasn’t this gaudy
But does not this disagree with the Word of God otherwise? Does not
it say in John 1 further on that “His own did not receive Him?” And does
not Jesus say this which has become a known saying among people: “No
prophet is welcome in his hometown.” (Luke 4:24). Yes, just wait and see.
But first we go to this occurrence in the
synagogue at His home place, and the message that He taught them.
Just think, there was Jesus coming – as it says here: “And He came
to Nazareth, where He had been brought up.” (v.16a). – They were on His
heart, these people. – He had wandered among them, He had seen their
frailty’s, the ones inclination to irascibility and temper – quick to
shed blood, as it is called about those kind of people – the others
impure looks after the women who passed them, the third’s irascibility
to gossip and slandering etc., and now He came to them, “the Lamb of God
who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). Notice here that He
knows all people like this – also you! He also knows your sin and
frailty – He knows you inside and out, and He comes to you, also at this
time, mentions your name, and says: “I know you!” All things are
open and lay bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. (Heb.
But isn’t this scary? Yes, to the one who shows God their back and
wants to live out their sinful nature, for those it is highly scary. As
Abel’s blood shouted to heaven, over the misdeed that was done, your
sins shout too, through those you have hit. The one you have gossiped
about for example – what has hit the person concerned through this sin
of yours, shouts to God over this misdeed. This is how all sin hangs
over and follows a person all the way to the gate of eternity – yes,
also in there. Scary? Yes!
But the one who has come to Him, the Lamb of God, there is a joy
the world does not know of. Just the fact that I am known by Him – that
nothing is hidden, is in itself a loud shouting proof that He surrounds
Himself with sinners, pleads their case and executes justice for them. (Mika
Just listen to the testimony about the Jews in Nazareth: They were
“wondering at the gracious words which were falling from His lips.”
(v.22a). Yes, they were wondering exactly over the gracious words!
You often hear that we have to preach all
of God’s Word. Yes, that is true – but all of God’s Word to every time,
and in every connections? If the answer is yes on that question, then
Jesus must’ve been a bad preacher. Just hear the word He reads from the
book of Isaiah then you will see that He has left something out. That
is: “And the day of revenge from our God.”
That was not what He had come to preach about in the synagogue
today. He could not speak about that word: “Today this Scripture has
been fulfilled in your hearing.” (v.21b). No, now the year of grace
had come from the Lord - the favorable year. (v.19).
This year has still not ended – still these words of Jesus can be
heard from the synagogue in Nazareth, that is highly topical words for
you. Now is the year of grace, now God can be found – for
the sinners! Sinners of all kind. The deepest fallen ones, as the
world looks at it, and also those who have offended God in the most
horrible way, with the self righteous and self produced piety they have
put in front of Him, as a savior foundation - the incredible mocking
towards the Gospel, the crucified Christ that this contain of. Come now
and find peace with God and the beatitude, while it is still called
today, while it is still called the year of grace from the Lord!
But it looks like too that the people
received this word about God’s goodness towards people. Yes, indeed they
did – and there is a lot of this kind of people today too – a God who
helps the miserable will few despise. But Jesus plants a “seed” here in
His speech, which exactly reveals many hearts thoughts – what really
lives there – as He says: “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in
your hearing.” (v.21b). It bear fruit in its time – and as we can see,
if we read further here in this passage in Luke – pretty soon. In the
middle of their joy and astonishment over the message of grace from God,
something is “grating”. What is it? – It does not dawn on them right
away, but pretty soon it comes clearer to them: What is He saying really?
Is He really saying that this scripture is fulfilled by Him?
Have you ever planted a seed? – Then you
go there and wait that it will show any results of what you did? If we
speak of a child, it runs to the garden several times a day to look. And
one day you see – isn’t it something small and white that breaks the
surface? One cannot be certain that it is the plant yet, but it does not
take too long before you know – that you recognize it now.
You can see in the middle of this fine and obviously fertile earth
in the synagogue in Nazareth that is presented like this: “And all were
speaking well of Him, and wondering at the gracious words which were
falling from His lips” (v.22a), then a little germinal sprouts up: “Is
this not Joseph’s son?” (v.22). Do you see? – There, in the middle of
the blessed meeting you eye the ugly and deadly plant – disbelief.
Only a little germinal is showing now in the beginning. A little
question is formed out from what happens in the foundation of the heart.
Oh yes, the message about God’s goodness and grace etc. these God
fearing people could receive with joy, but that this was attached to
Jesus person alone, that was too bulky food for them. It should be
fulfilled in them – because they were – not only Jews, but pious and God
fearing Jews. It had to do something with their godliness, something to
do with their spirituality, in their services, in their penance and
whatever they could think of. They were not just going to have a Lamb
of God to put their trust in!
What about us? – What do we hope for? How deep are we going into
it? Is it the Lamb of God alone that you have your hope in?
Jesus certainly experienced – He saw
– this plant sprout up in the middle of the congregation, and He kept on
with them and taught them the Word of God’s truth, that His grace was
not attached to what they were. Then He show to the examples with
the famine in Elijah’s time, when the Lord helped the widower in Sarepta
in the land of Sidon, while He did not help any Jews. – He shows to the
many leprous people in Israel in the time of Elijah, and that God did
not heal any of them, only the Syrian Na’aman.
This word of truth – they had it written down in their own holy
Scriptures – they could just look for it themselves. But now the
atmosphere changed – and why? Because He said that God no longer was as
gracious towards them as He had previous preached? – Had He presented a
different God to them? No, but because He was not gracious in the way
that they meant He should be! Then they were revealed as God’s true
enemies, in the middle of their god fearing. They probably would’ve been
sitting there in the synagogue today, and been thinking about those and
those who weren’t there, who should’ve been there, but who was not as
pious and god fearing as they were and so on. And then we read, when we
really get to meet God’s Word – God’s message: “And all the people in
the synagogue were filled with rage as they heard these things.” (v.28).
Again, why? – Was it because the truth was not preached? – No, but
exactly that was the reason! It was not like they wanted it. They
would not come down from the pedestal they had sat themselves on, and
that they enjoyed so much. – They would not “become one among the crowd
of sinners who just know how to thank and praise!” as C.O. Rosenius
Do you? Do you have any privilege to show to? – Something
more than that you are a sinner saved by grace?
Listen to how this meeting – which
started so good – ended. And keep in mind that the cause was the true
teaching: “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. But passing through their midst, He went
His way.” (v.29-30).
We shall not dwell on this rage, and this lust to murder that we
see in this “godly” flock, but put it on our hearts and mind how it goes
where the Word of God becomes resisted and not received: “But passing
through their midst, He went His way.” Away! Away from them!
The rescue that came to them, full of grace and truth - full of
compassion towards their sins and frailty’s – full of savior desire – it
went away! And it goes away today too! Keep that in mind when you
go to listen to the Word of God.
Holy Bible New American Standard Version
Translator: Benedicte Holtan Smart