And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
That day in the synagogue, Jesus’ words exploded like a nuclear bomb. Everyone and everything was shaken to the core. For hundreds of years, through many generations, they had read, they had heard, they had recited Isaiah’s prophecy about the Messiah, the all-powerful God-sent messenger who would deliver them and establish God’s kingdom. And now Jesus had just claimed to be THAT Savior! With boldness and calm, He had made His own the mission statement of God’s long-awaited Anointed One. Let’s read the whole account.
So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and 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 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 proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” Then 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.
The silence was surely deafening, before and after what we call verse 21. Could it be possible? Could Jesus really be THE answer, the FULFILLMENT of all they ever longed for? They were in shock, astonished; they also
all bore witness to Him and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth…
Fast-forward almost two thousand years later. Nowadays, believers all over the world gather in churches and hear, read and recite that same passage from Isaiah. Different settings, different times, different people, but how much do our reactions differ from what Christ encountered in His hometown?
We too are impressed by His message. We too recognize it is unlike any other. Nevertheless, when it comes down to embracing the absolute, radical and politically incorrect truth He proclaims, scores of us resemble our counterparts from Jesus’s era: disbelief, fear, disdain, familiarity, doubt, resentment, spiritual blindness, etc. we just take over and silence the voice of faith. We are angered by the blunt challenge Jesus issued: “Will you dare to believe this is true? Do you really trust My Word, My character, My power, My intentions?”
That is to say, despite what we see, hear, think and feel, will you and I choose to believe Jesus can still save souls today through the simple preaching of the gospel? Can those around us who are brokenhearted, distraught, be healed? Can drug-addicts, sex-traffickers, self-worshiping societies, people ensnared by greed and materialistic pursuits, proud in-your-face atheists or the worst cases you may think of, can THEY be freed from their captivities? Can the suffering children and exploited women, the millions of victims of abuse, torture, armed conflicts, neglect, discrimination and every other kind of oppression we witness or discover in the news, can THEY be delivered by Jesus Christ? Can physical, emotional and spiritual diseases be supernaturally cured? Can full restoration, as in the year of Jubilee, be lavishly granted to all types of sinners, prisoners and guilty parties, enslaved by force, indifference or seduction? Is Isaiah 61 “fulfill-able” in today’s corrupt, godless, rebel and lost age?
They “were filled with wrath” (v.28) and decided to get rid of Jesus. They couldn’t hurt Him (He is God!), but they effectively shut Him out of their lives. He couldn’t perform miracles among them; they never experienced the wonderful communion and freedom He had come to give. Their religious practice remained empty, ritualistic and powerless.
Christ’s mission is clear and His power unmatched, but for us to see and hear it, in and through our lives, we must believe that Isaiah’s scripture and everything else written in the Bible has been duly and totally fulfilled in Him. The church (one believer at a time) needs to choose faith over sight! Because the depth of our commitment and surrender to His truth determines the degree of manifestation of His victory and sovereignty in our streets, workplaces, states, churches, homes, and hearts.
When Jesus departed from there, two blind men followed Him, crying and saying, “Son of David, have mercy on us!” And when He had come into the house, the blind men came to Him. And Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to Him, “Yes, Lord.” Then He touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith let it be to you.” And their eyes were opened…