The Christmas story: the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord was upon Jesus in his coming to earth, anointing him to proclaim good news to the poor, bandage up the broken, proclaim freedom for captives and release from darkness for prisoners. This is the Lord’s favour…
1 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
14 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. 15 He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.
16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
22 All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked.
Isn’t this Joseph’s son? That’s the question of the day. Isn’t this the son of that carpenter, Joseph, whom we know? He’s one of the neighbours. He’s from the hood. And here we have his son, Jesus, in Nazareth, which is their hometown, and Jesus is making bold statements in the synagogue. What did he say? Look carefully at Luke 4:21. Jesus read the scroll of Isaiah 61, and then he told all who were there that he, Jesus, is the one who was fulfilling Isaiah’s words – God’s words through Isaiah…
What words? That the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord was upon Jesus in his coming to earth; that the Lord had anointed him to proclaim the good news to the poor; that he was sent to bandage up the broken and proclaim freedom for captives and release from darkness for prisoners. Jesus ushered in the age of the Lord’s favour. All this is wrapped up in Christmas.
When God sent his son to take on human form, he did so knowing that his full redemptive plan for all people was wrapped up in the cloths of the manger.
We see that by Luke chapter 4 that news about Jesus was spreading far and wide. He was now a man, some 30 years after the Christmas story, and everywhere he went he was praised and listened to. It would not be so in Nazareth. They became furious with him after this, likely because his neighbours and community knew the story. They knew he was born to Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem. Out of wedlock. This couldn’t be the one God would anoint.
And so we see how God works. Not only does he use the broken vessels of you and me to accomplish his work, he gives us the capstone example of his own son, whom he placed into the womb of a virgin who was pledged to be married to Joseph. God set this up to not be easy. At all.
No, God set this up to be very difficult for Jesus, and very hopeful for us. This is our Saviour. Not only can we hope in him for his good news of salvation and healing and freedom and release, under God’s favour we can hope for our humble lives to be used by God for his glory.
May the scripture continue to be fulfilled in our hearing. Jesus the anointed. Born to us.