Luke 9 – The Transfiguration and Reasons To Believe Jesus is the Messiah

Everything in chapter 9 is in the other gospels (Matthew 17 and Mark 9), so I’ll just comment on a couple things. Luke’s account of the transfiguration has some details and ways of describing what happens that are fascinating. We may remember that in each of the gospel accounts, the transfiguration comes after Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Christ, and Jesus telling the disciples: “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.” Judas was among those disciples he told this to, so Jesus could be referring to his resurrection which the rest would see, but I think it’s more likely he was referring to his transfiguration. Luke’s next words are, “about eight days after Jesus said this,” so there is a clear connection to what comes next. He takes Peter, John, and James with him up onto a mountain to pray. Momentous things happen in Scripture on mountains. Matthew and Mark say the same thing (although it’s six days), so these three disciples are about to “see the kingdom of God.”

As Jesus was praying, Luke describes the transfiguration:  “the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.” Luke doesn’t use the word “transfigure” (Matthew and Mark do), but it means complete change. We get our word metamorphosis. a change of the form or nature of a thing or person into a completely different one. The three disciples are witnessing another world, and it’s a glorious one, a reality as real as the one we see every day, but hidden behind our sin. Remember, Jesus had just told them that he was going to suffer and be killed, so the disciples had to see that the cross wasn’t the end of the story, but that this glory they are witnessing is our ultimate destiny.

Luke says two men, whom he identifies as Moses and Elijah, show up, also “in glorious splendor,” and they have a conversation with Jesus. Moses, who died some 1400 years earlier, and Elijah who didn’t but lived 800 years earlier, are both very much alive at that moment. That’s why Jesus can tell the Sadducees that God is the God of the living, not the dead. These men are there with Jesus to talk about “his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem.” The word departure in Greek is exodus, so there is a clear reference back to Israel’s fleeing from Egypt, but the coming salvation prefigured in that one, shall come in Jesus’s death, which is another translation of the word exodus. Maybe this happened not only to reveal truth to the disciples, but to give Jesus the strength to go through with it. He had gone up the mountain to pray, and this was his answer.

As the three disciples are trying to take all this in, and not being able to do that, something else happens they haven’t experienced before with Jesus. A cloud envelopes them, and a voice comes out of the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” I heard a phrase last Sunday at church that I hadn’t quite considered before, although it’s truth is obvious. Jesus wasn’t “self-authenticating.” In other words, Jesus never said, “I say it, just believe it.” He never expected to be believed on his own authority. That is how other religions get founded, not Christianity. Rather Jesus says, for example, if you don’t believe me, believe my miracles. There was also the testimony of John the Baptist, a type of Elijah fulfilling a prophecy of Malachi the Jews had been expecting for 400(!) years. At his baptism, the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove came down upon him, and people saw it, and they also heard a voice say something similar. Now this transfiguration experience. In my soon to be published book, I argue that our God is a God of evidence; we are not expected to be fideists.

Jesus obviously needed more than “faith” (i.e., trust) because we know from his struggle in the garden before his suffering and crucifixion he asked his Father if this cup could be taken from him. And Luke tells us in that passage that an angel came to strengthen him. The transfiguration obviously encouraged Jesus because Luke tells us this after the event:

51 As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.

The Greek for resolutely literally means strengthen your face. In modern parlance, he had his game face on. And in an interesting little tidbit we don’t find in the other gospels, Luke says, “and he sent messengers on ahead.” Maybe to get the colt and the room ready for his last days in Jerusalem? And what are the disciples doing? Completely missing it.

This is another criterion of embarrassment moment for them. They were in a Samaritan village, and because they knew he was headed for Jerusalem he was not welcomed there. What do the disciples do? This is almost funny. They ask Jesus, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” Some manuscripts add, “just as Elijah did?” They want their own “prophets of Baal” moment. I imagine Jesus thinking, “What idiots!” And “he turned and rebuked them,” and they moved on to another village. Jesus isn’t about fireworks, but fulfilling his mission as The Lamb of God who will take away the sins of the world!

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Luke 8 – The Counter Culture of Jesus

The stories and teaching of Luke 8 are found in the other gospels, but a couple of counter cultural moments stand out to me. Tim Keller often makes the apologetics point that at every turn Jesus upended the cultural expectations of the time. A typically human teacher doesn’t do such things. When you add these kinds of things along with the rest of his teaching, miracles, and the minor fact of him actually having risen from the dead, it’s not surprising that his life changed the world unlike any other human being to have ever lived.

The chapter begins with Luke telling us that Jesus traveled to towns and villages proclaiming the good news of God’s kingdom. In addition to the Twelve with him, Luke adds:

and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.

In a culture where women were second class citizens, Jesus not only treated them with respect, but they were an active part of his ministry. While maybe not scandalous, this was highly unusual. It’s especially noteworthy because for many people who are ignorant of Scripture they think that Christianity when it started was misogynistic. In fact, it was just the opposite. When you read the history of early Christianity, you’ll find out that women and slaves were it’s biggest adherents, so much so that critics basically called it a religion for sissies. Having been created in God’s image along with men, women had every bit of the value and dignity men did. Although Jesus was no egalitarian obliterating the differences between and roles of men and women.

And in this passage, we see the beginning of what happened to eventually bring down the Roman Empire. That would be woman in high places becoming Christians, like Joanna. The manager of a king’s household was a very significant position to hold at the time, and although Christianity started finding adherents among the outcasts and lower classes, it eventually found it’s way into Roman halls of power. I don’t think that Roman Emperor Constantine’s conversion in 313 came out of the blue with no influence of Christianity among those around them.

The other story is about Jesus’ mother and brothers coming to see him. Wherever he was teaching, his mother and brothers are there, and it was so crowded that they couldn’t get in to see him. Someone says they are outside, and Jesus responds in a profoundly counter cultural way:

“My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.”

In that time a person’s family and clan, especially in the Jewish context, was everything. Your identity, value, and the meaning of your existence was bound up in your family. Jesus doesn’t say or even imply here that family and clan are not important, only like everything besides God himself, not of ultimate importance. He was freeing the people of his day from a sort of bondage to family, and making a person’s relationship to God the ultimate arbiter of their existence. In our day, Western culture has gone in the completely opposite direction, making the individual, the sovereign self as I’ve heard it called, the focus of all meaning and value. That is why the idea of “choice” is almost a sacred right in our culture, the age of the iEverthing. If we take God’s word seriously, we’ll avoid all extremes. Thus the first commandment, and the greatest commandment:

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

“You shall have no other gods before me.

and

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

The perfect recipe for human flourishing: God, others, the ourselves; vertical, horizontal, then internal.

 

Luke 7 – The Power of Jesus to Conquer Death and Sin

Much that is in this chapter is found in Mark and Matthew, but there is a story of Jesus raising a widow’s son from the dead not found in either. Luke says Jesus want to a town called Nain with “his disciples and a large crowd.” I am consistently reminded reading the gospels that all the amazing, miraculous things Jesus did were witnessed by large numbers of people. With the gospel being written maybe 30 or 40 years after the resurrection, many of these same witnesses would have still been alive. If the stories were made up, the gospels would have had no credibility, and would never have been passed down as authentic to all these succeeding generations. Even critical, unbelieving scholars agree that these things likely happened; they just deny they were miraculous happenings, and only because of their a priori assumptions that the miraculous can’t happen. Our assumption that God exists (duh!), and that thus the miraculous can happen, is a far more reasonable and plausible one, and we can thus have confidence that what all the eye witnesses saw were indeed miracles. Jesus was who he said he was.

This story is a striking one because the widow’s son hadn’t just died like the girls Jesus raised in the other gospels, but was being carried out through the town gate in a coffin. In addition to the large crowd with Jesus, there was also a large crowd escorting the body to its burial place. When Jesus saw the procession, “his heart went out to her and he said, ‘Don’t cry.'” Jesus knows the often ineffable sadness of life because of our mortality, and it breaks his heart. That’s why he will be lifted up on a mountain, as Isaiah tells us:

On this mountain he will destroy
    the shroud that enfolds all peoples,
the sheet that covers all nations;
    he will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears
    from all faces;
he will remove his people’s disgrace
    from all the earth.
The Lord has spoken.

This event, this giving the life of her son back to the widow, will one day be a reality for all of God’s people forever. The disgrace that is death will be no more.

Back to our story. I love the little details as Luke tells it. Jesus “went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still.” Imagine the electricity in the air. These people knew about Jesus. The town is only about 11 miles south of Nazareth, so I’m sure his reputation preceded him. They must have been thinking, is he actually going to bring this woman’s son back to life? Her only son Luke tells us, for a reason. The Lord said to Abraham that he was to sacrifice his son, his only son, Isaac. He too, in effect, was brought back to life. And of course, Jesus is the only son of the Father who himself will be raised from the dead. Jesus just speaks to the son, and he gets up! Jesus’ very words are  life itself. The dead man sits up and starts talking. Minds are blown. The people say, “A great prophet has appeared among us.” Oh, much more than a prophet. 

I’ll also comment on a story found in the other gospels, where Jesus is at a Pharisee’s house for dinner and he’s anointed by a “sinful woman.” When the Pharisee sees this woman touching Jesus he says that if Jesus were in fact a prophet he’d know that the woman is “a sinner.” As if he’s not! The reason that the religious leaders and Jesus were always at each other’s throats was because their conceptions of their religion was diametrically opposite. Everything for the Jewish religious leaders was law and tradition, and if you kept these you were not a sinner; you and God were alright. For Jesus it was mercy and grace; obedience to the law, as best we can attempt it, comes after reconciliation and righteousness, not to attain it.

Human beings, as can be seen by all the world’s religions and philosophies (and even those who claim they don’t have one), are all about law and attaining salvation by their own efforts, whatever their conception of salvation. In this sense, Jesus came to abolish religion, and show the world that righteousness and salvation can only come by faith, through God’s mercy and grace. It’s all about unmerited favor, not merit. Since the Pharisee doesn’t get this, at all, he tells him a story about two men who owe money, one a lot, the other a little. Because neither has the money to pay the debt back, the money lender forgives both debts. Jesus asks which of them will love the lender more. The answer is obvious.

This woman knowing about Jesus, when she learned he was at the Pharisee’s house brought the jar of perfume to anoint him. Whatever he was, she wanted that, and not the religion of the Pharisee. Those who know the depth of their sin are the ones welcomed by Jesus, and the more the sin, the more the love in return for the forgiveness freely given. Those who obsess over their failures and imperfection, their sin, and who think they are not welcomed by Jesus, should follow the example of this “sinful” woman. Jesus forgave her sin because he could; she had sinned against him even though she’d just met him. He is God, and all sin is against him first. The other guests marvel at all this and say, “Who is this who even forgives sin?” Exactly. Jesus says her faith saved her, her trust in who Jesus is, God in human flesh who can forgive sin; one eminently worthy of that trust.

Luke 5:12-6 – Blessings and Woes are All About Jesus!

Most of what’s in the rest of chapter 5 and all of 6 are in Matthew and Mark, but a couple things stand out, one I don’t think I was quite aware of before. In chapter 5 Jesus calls Levi to follow him, as we read in the other gospels, but when Luke names the 12, as Matthew and Mark did, there is no Levi. That’s because Matthew and Levi are the same person; both are referred to as the son of Alphaeus. As I learned, Matthew is the Greek name and Levi the Hebrew. As a tax collector, Matthew worked for Greek-speaking Romans. He gathered taxes from Hebrew-speaking Jews. In addition to this Bible trivia, when Levi follows Jesus, unlike the other gospels, Luke says, like he did for Simon, James, and John, he doesn’t just leave, he leaves everything to follow him. Luke is making his point that there is no halfway house with Jesus because as we see in the surrounding stories, Jesus is God himself! What, are we going to leave some things to follow him? It all belongs to him anyway.

In chapter 6, Luke includes some of what we read in the Sermon on the Mount, but he does something with the blessings that Matthew doesn’t do; he contrasts them with woes. Our tendency in life is to long for pleasant circumstances. When they are not we are miserable, frustrated, or angry. I gather from reading the gospels that these are emotions we ought not to have. I think Luke is telling us with this contrast that when everything in life goes the way we think we want it, that it’s difficult to see or feel our need for God. When things go wrong in our lives, or when we interpret them as wrong, the tendency is to blame God, as if the circumstances of our lives have taken him by surprise. As if he isn’t sovereign, and providentially the ruler of all things. As if there isn’t something more important than, as Joel Osteen calls it, our best life now. As if Paul was using hyperbole when he said that “all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Certainly he meant most, right? Certainly not! And what is that purpose?

29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

So as counter intuitive as it is to us, then, blessed are the poor, the hungry, those who weep, and those reviled and considered evil because of Jesus. This doesn’t sound like much fun! But Jesus is saying by this contrast that if we focus on these states of our current material existence, we will be blind to the reality he’s come to bring. In a secular age this is especially difficult to buy into, that matter is not all that matters.

The poor? The kingdom of God belongs to them. Is Jesus saying that poverty is meritorious in God’s economy? The mendicant orders of the Catholic Church founded in the 13th century thought so. But distortions like this come from not taking in the whole revelation of God when we look at any particular passage. David says in a prayer prior to his death that “wealth and honor” come from the Lord, so the amount of our material resources is not the issue. What is, is our relationship to them. Man tends to absolutize what the Lord means to be relativized, so the blessedness of our lives does not consist in our wealth or lack thereof.

This and the other states of our existence that are less than optimal (they should always be seen as such in this life because they in reality are!) should lead us to this conclusion, a perfectly logical conclusion very hard to internalize in our very material world (and secular culture):

23 “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.

There is a saying that goes, don’t be so heavenly minded you’re no earthly good. But it is only the truly heavenly minded that will be any good in God’s economy and kingdom on this earth. And the woes that Jesus proclaims next against the rich, well fed, and those who laugh don’t indicate that there is anything wrong with these in and of themselves. It is putting our trust, hope, meaning, and significance in those things as if they apart from “the Son of Man” could provide any of that. Again, this is all about Jesus because he ends the woes with:

26 Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you,
    for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.

All the prophets had one purpose, to testify to and proclaim the Truth, and Jesus proclaimed that he is the Truth. Blessed (happy, fulfilled, content, even in our misery) are we who embrace the Truth!

Luke 5:1-11 – Leaving Everything to Follow Jesus

The first story of chapter 5 is one we read about in the other gospels, but Luke puts in some interesting twists. Jesus now adds to his teaching and healing ministry the calling of his first disciples, Simon, James, and John. He is teaching by the Sea of Galilee, and Luke says “the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God.” This is a sly play on words by Luke. The first sense of “word of God” is that Jesus is preaching from the Scripture, as any preacher would in our day. Another is that Jesus is God and the people are listening to his word because it’s “the word of God.” Of course both are true. Those who listened to Jesus were listening to God in the flesh speak his own word!

It was very crowded and some fishermen’s boats where there, so he gets into one of the boats to teach from the water, a boat not by accident belonging to Simon, who will become Peter. After he finishes speaking he tells Simon to put out their nets into deep water to catch fish, but Simon says they had fished all night and caught nothing. The contrast is a beautiful one, and intended by Luke and Jesus. Human effort by itself is futile and sterile, while obedience to, and effort in, the Lord is fecund in every way (see Psalm 127). Peter senses this, so tells Jesus, “Because you say so, I will let down the nets.” The way Luke portrays what happens next is so like God:

When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.

From nothing to this! God’s abundant blessing is almost more than they can handle, and so it is for all who trust the Lord and his word: “Because you say so.” And note how Simon must have felt; dubious? Again, as we’ve seen in the gospels so far, it isn’t the amount of faith, or trust, that we have, but in whom we have it, the creator and sustainer of all of reality. Blessing won’t always be material in this sense, but trust in the absolute benevolence of our God (Romans 8:28) is a requirement for a blessed life, as in happy, content, equanimical, without anxiety, and one could go on with the benefits of truly trusting our sovereign, almighty Lord. Most importantly, the benefits extend into eternity.

Simon’s response to the presence of divinity in the person of Jesus?

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”

And Jesus’ response to Simon’s request?

Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.”

Fear, a proper response of sinful men before a holy God, is not an impediment to serving him because as hard as it is to believe, yet obvious, God uses sinful people to build his kingdom on earth. And we know now, that Jesus has given us his very own righteousness that we never have to serve God in fear, but out of joyful gratitude for what he has done for us.

Jesus is not speaking here just to Simon. We learn from Luke that James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were Simon’s business partners. Their business is now out of business:

11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.

Everything. Contemplate that word. In a sense, we all as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ have to leave everything if we’re to follow him. Simply, our ultimate attachment isn’t to the things of this world, as important and as good as they are and can be, but to him. Those things will never satisfy or fulfill us in the way we are supposed to be satisfied and fulfilled. This is why the first commandment is, “You shall have no other Gods before me.” So only when we leave everything will we enjoy anything as God intended us to enjoy it. As I’ve heard Tim Keller say many times, do not turn good things into ultimate things. If we are truly, daily, moment by moment, following Jesus in his word and prayer, the idolatrous temptations of our hearts will never win the day.

Luke 4:31-44 – Jesus’ Authority Over All Created Reality

These last two sections of chapter four are similar to what we find in Matthew and Mark, but I think Luke emphasizes something about Jesus here more than they do. In the first, Jesus leaves Nazareth and goes to his new hometown, Capernaum, although Luke doesn’t tell us it’s the place he now calls home. He continues his teaching on the Sabbath in a synagogue, and the people are amazed because “his message had authority.” This can only be in comparison to other teachers who must not have “had authority.” Matthew tells us after Jesus’ teaching at the “Sermon on the Mount,” that people were amazed at his teaching because “he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.”

In addition to this perceived authority, he backs it up with powerful signs or miracles. These are not just empty words Jesus is speaking. In this particular instance, Jesus drives a demon or evil spirit out of a man, but who first cries out in a loud voice that Jesus is “the Holy One of God!” But for some reason Jesus tells it to “Be quiet!” Jesus continues his healing, including many demon possessions, and each time the demons shout that Jesus is “the Son of God,” and each time he rebukes them and won’t allow them to speak. This is what Luke seems to emphasize more than Matthew or Mark. Why would this be?

Luke is writing his gospel that we might know “the certainty of the things” we have been taught. The most important “things” are who Jesus is, and what he taught about his kingdom. Luke is emphasizing that there is a spiritual reality of evil, and those who inhabit that reality, demons and evil spirits, know full well who Jesus is. He tells the people in Capernaum who plead with him to stay, that he must go to other towns to “preach the good news of the kingdom of God.” Jesus is telling and showing us that we live in a fundamentally bifurcated reality, the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan, both of which can’t be seen directly, but are seen through the actions and intentions of human beings. In our secular age even Christians often live as if there wasn’t really a spiritual reality, and that the material reality is our main reality. Jesus through Luke wants us to know that it most certainly is not!

Luke ties the authority of his teaching to the authority he has to rule over the spiritual kingdom of evil. The ultimate purpose in the redemption of his people is to completely destroy this rival kingdom to God’s rule, which we see begun in the Garden of Eden with the fall, and accomplished in the final book of our Bible, Revelation. Jesus is also by his words and deeds claiming that he is the Lord whom David speaks about in his final prayer before his death:

Yours, Lord, is the kingdom;
    you are exalted as head over all.
12 Wealth and honor come from you;
    you are the ruler of all things.

This is why not only do demons and evil spirits obey, but so do the wind and the waves, and even death itself. We can trust with all things in life and death.

Luke 4:13-30 – Jesus Came to Declare The Year of the Lord’s Favor

Luke begins chapter 4 with Jesus going out into the desert to be tempted by the devil, but since’ I’ve already written about this in Matthew 4, I only make one brief comment here. Luke ends Jesus’ ordeal with these words:

13 When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.

An opportune time for what? It’s speculation, but you have to believe Luke is referring to Jesus’ suffering and crucifixion when the devil would be given liberties to try to destroy Jesus. Such sadism inflicted on him could only come from the pit of hell.

In the next section, Luke deals with Jesus’ return to his hometown of Nazareth, which Matthew and Mark do, but in far more detail. By the time Jesus returned home I gather he is somewhat of a rock star. He had been preaching and healing in Judea and Galilee for some time before coming to Nazareth. So his friends and neighbors knew there was something different about him. Yet this Jesus was the same one who spent the first 30 years of his life around these people. He’d likely grown up going to the same synagogue where he will now reveal who he really is, but as the saying goes, familiarity breeds contempt. Sure, Jesus may be a special teacher, and do some wonderful things, but nobody is prepared to accept the truth about him. Especially when he gets up to read these words from the scroll of Isiah given to him to read and preach on:

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.”

Luke doesn’t tell us anything about what Jesus preached or taught, but he does say when he sits down the eyes of everyone “were fastened on him.” Imagine the electricity and tension in the air at that moment. I’m sure you could “cut it with a knife.” Then Jesus drops this on them:

Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.

This passage from Isaiah from chapter 61 is full-on Messianic, and Jesus is claiming he is Israel’s very long awaited Messiah. The word Anointing (literally) involved rubbing olive oil on the head, etc., especially to present someone as divinely-authorized (appointed by God) to serve as prophet, priest or king. Jesus is declaring to them that he is Yahweh’s appointed agent of the salvation of God’s people. To them this is not only impossible, it is inconceivable. The Messiah was supposed to be a great warrior King, David’s son, who will lead Israel back to it’s former glory; not a carpenter’s son from Nazareth. But what really ticked them off was that Jesus was saying that the Messiah wasn’t coming just for Israel

They say among themselves, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” Surely, Joseph’s son, the carpenter, can’t be the Messiah. But their initial reaction is positive if incredulous.  Luke says, “All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips.” Initially, I’m sure they are wondering how Jesus could be could be so eloquent and learned. They know Jesus hadn’t been educated like other rabbis, yet he must have impressed them. Even when he said the passage was fulfilled as they listened, they were not angry because they probably couldn’t process it right away. Then Jesus insults them with these now famous words, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown.” Why would that be? I think it’s more than familiarity. The role of a prophet is to speak the words of the Lord to the people, to speak the Truth to them, which is more often than not unpleasant.

But Jesus adds insult to injury by comparing this to the time Elijah and Elisha were sent to help not the people of Israel, but to gentiles. They are furious at hearing this because for 400 years Jews have been waiting for the Messiah to save them, the people of God, not some heathens. God’s covenant promises to Abram and confirmed throughout the Old Testament were always to the nations, and not just Israel, but they don’t want to hear it. So it’s bad enough that Jesus is claiming to be the Messiah, but his implication that the Messiah’s work will extend beyond Israel, that is not acceptable. They’re so angry, in fact, that they drive him out of town and attempt to kill him! They fully intend to thrown him off a cliff! But Jesus, calm, cool, and collected, “walked right through the crowd and went on his way.” That is so Hollywood! Jesus is not ready to die, and especially at the hands of his angry neighbors.

So Jesus goes on his way to “proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,” which is a reference to the Year of Jubilee granted to Israel by the Lord in Leviticus 25. Jesus is specifically saying he is coming to proclaim liberty for sin and death, no doubt thinking of verse 10: “Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants.” Jesus is spiritualizing what ancient Jews only saw as a physical, land and material based command and promise. We know this “good news” as farm more, as  liberty from the bondage of sin and death. This “year of the Lord’s favor” is the one in which we still live, and where the gospel goes out into all the earth. Jesus didn’t continue Isaiah’s quote which says, “and the day of vengeance of our God.” That will be for his second coming. For now we live and hope in this “alien righteousness” (Is. 61:10), and proclaim it to all the world.