Scripture: Luke 4:16-21 (alternate reading: John 13:1-15)
16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and he
went to the synagogue, as his custom was, on the Sabbath day. And he
stood up to read; 17 and there was given to him the book of the
prophet Isaiah. He opened the book and found the place where it was
written, 18 "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has
anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to
proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the
blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the
acceptable year of the Lord." 20 And he closed the book, and gave it
back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the
synagogue were fixed on him. 21 Then he began to say to them, "Today
this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." 22 All spoke
well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his
mouth. They said, "Is not this Joseph's son?"
Second Reading: Isaiah 61:1-8
1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because
the LORD has anointed me to bring good tidings
to the afflicted; 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; 2 to proclaim the year of the LORD's
favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who
mourn; 3 to grant to those who mourn in Zion -- to give them a
garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the mantle 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. 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. 5 Aliens
shall stand and feed your flocks, foreigners shall be your plowmen
and vinedressers; 6 but you shall be called the priests of the LORD,
men shall speak of you as the ministers of our God; you shall
eat the wealth of the nations, and in their riches you shall glory.
7 Instead of your shame you shall have a double portion, instead of
dishonor you shall rejoice in your lot; therefore in your land
you shall possess a double portion; yours shall be everlasting
joy. 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.
Meditation: What does the Gospel of Luke tell us about Jesus
and his mission and what he came to do for us? Luke tells us that
Jesus was about 30 years of age when he began his public ministry
(Luke 3:23). Right after Jesus was baptized by John and anointed by
the Spirit at the River Jordan (Luke 3:21-22), he spent 40 days in
the wilderness to devote himself to prayer and fasting (Luke
4:1-13). At the end of this period of spiritual preparation and
testing, Luke tells us that Jesus "returned in the power of the
Spirit to his own land of Galilee" (Luke 4:14). Jesus chose to begin
his public ministry in Galilee first, rather than in Jerusalem, the
holy city and temple of God. This was in fulfillment of the prophecy
of Isaiah 9:1,2.
Jesus was anointed and empowered by the Holy Spirit to preach the Gospel
Luke tells us that Jesus chose to publicly announce his mission in the synagogue at Nazareth. The people there were familiar with Jesus since it was his custom to regularly attended the weekly Sabbath service. Jesus was also known by many in Nazareth as a "carpenter" (Mark 6:3) and "son of Joseph" (Luke 4:21). When the president of the synagogue called on Jesus to read from the book of the prophet Isaiah, Jesus chose to read Isaiah's description (verses 1-2 of chapter 61) of what the Messiah would do when he came to restore God's kingdom for the people of Israel.
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord" (Isaiah 61:1-2).
Isaiah had prophesied that the Messiah would be sent by God and
anointed in the power of the Holy Spirit to preach "good news" and
bring healing, blessing, and freedom to all who were oppressed
(see Isaiah 61:1-2). Jesus awakened their hope in God's promises
when he announced that this word was now being fulfilled in his
very own person. Luke tells us that the people of Nazareth spoke
well of him and received his "gracious word" with amazement and
wonder. But they also openly questioned how the "son of Joseph"
would fulfill this Messianic mission (Luke 4:21). Jesus challenged
them to believe the word God had spoken through the prophets and
the word he now speaks in God's name through the power of the Holy
Jesus renews and strengthens us in faith, hope, and love
The Lord Jesus speaks this same word to each of us today - he comes to bring us healing and restoration, pardon and freedom from the oppression of sin, despair, hopelessness, and destruction. Do you believe his word with expectant faith and trust, or with doubt and indifference? The Lord will not refuse to pour out his Spirit on all who trust in him. Ask the Lord Jesus to renew in you the joy of the Gospel and the freedom to live each day with trusting faith, joyful hope, and fervent love.
"Lord Jesus, you are the fulfillment of all our hopes and dreams. Through the gift of your Holy Spirit you bring us truth, freedom, and abundant life. Fill me with the joy of the Gospel and inflame my heart with a burning love for you and a deep thirst for your word."
8 the precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD
is pure, enlightening the eyes;
9 the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever; the ordinances of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.
14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
Daily Quote from the early church fathers: Jesus fulfills the Messianic prophecy of Isaiah 61, by Cyril of Alexandria (376-444 AD)
"Now it was necessary that he should manifest himself to the
Israelites and that the mystery of his incarnation should now shine
forth to those who did not know him. Now that God the Father had
anointed him to save the world, he very wisely orders this also
[that his fame should now spread widely]. This favor he grants first
to the people of Nazareth, because, humanly speaking, he had grown
up among them. Having entered the synagogue, therefore, he takes the
book to read. Having opened it, he selects a passage in the Prophets
which declares the mystery concerning him. By these words he himself
tells us very clearly by the voice of the prophet that he would both
be made man and come to save the world. For we affirm that the Son
was anointed in no other way than by having become like us according
to the flesh and taking our nature. Being at once God and man, he
both gives the Spirit to the creation in his divine nature and
receives it from God the Father in his human nature. It is he who
sanctifies the whole creation, both by shining forth from the Holy
Father and by bestowing the Spirit. He himself pours forth his own
Spirit on the powers above and on those who recognized his
appearing." (excerpt from COMMENTARY ON LUKE, HOMILY 12)
Scripture quotations from Common Bible: Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1973, and Ignatius Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 2006, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Citation references for quotes from the writings of the early church fathers can be found here.
The Daily Scripture Readings and Meditations is in need of on-going development to expand resources and to reach people around the world. If you would like to contribute, you can make an online donation.