Wednesday, May 25, 2011

LUKE 4:14-30

I read Luke 4 today and had many questions when I was done.  Jesus is in a synagogue in Galilee, Nazareth to be exact, and is doing what he usually does(v16), which is read from the Scripture. In verses 18&19, Jesus reads,
 "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, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord."
And then, he sits down and says in verse 21,
"Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."
 How is this statement true?  I first thought that because Jesus read the Scripture to them, that it was the beginning of his public ministry and so it was the official sending of the Son of God to proclaim the Word of God to men, but verse 16 says that he read, 'as was His custom', which means that it couldn't be the mere reading of the Scripture that made this fulfilling of Scripture happen.  Apparently, Jesus read the Scripture regularly and so Him reading on this day wasn't anything out of the ordinary and yet, Jesus clearly says that this Scripture was 'fulfilled in your hearing'.  And so now we must examine just how this is so, otherwise we may miss the entire point of the passage.

I believe the answer is rather simple, and by saying this I do not mean it is obvious.  It was not at first obvious to me and so if it is not yet apparent to you, do not distress.  When I say 'simple' I only mean a lack of complexity.  Also, if you are reading this, already knowing the answer and wondering why I am making such a great deal out of it, please bear with me, as I am a relatively new Christian and am only now just beginning to understand the life of Jesus Christ.

The key to understanding how the Scripture was fulfilled is to put great emphasis on what is stated rather plainly in the beginning of verse 14.  It says
"And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit,..."
It says he returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, implying that when he had left he had not this power of the Spirit, at least in the measure now given to him.  And if we are not certain if that is what is implied in the passage, we need only ask exactly where Jesus was returning from?  Well, from the wilderness and the great temptations where the devil attempted to derail the Son of God from His great purpose.  The temptations of Jesus are closely related to those of the same tests that the nation of Israel failed.  Think of Israel in the wilderness for 40 years, grumbling against God, saying they would rather be slaves in Egypt than starve in the desert and compare that to Jesus' answer to the devil, 'Man shall not live on bread alone'.  Remember the people, as Moses was on the mountain for 40 days as the people below made the golden calf and recall Jesus' answer to the devil, 'It is written, you shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.'  Remember Israel at Rephidim (Exodus17), complaining about their water situation and Moses asks, 'Why do you test the Lord?' and recall Jesus' answer to the devil 'You shall not put the Lord your God to the test'.

Jesus went to the wilderness 'full of the Holy Spirit' after his baptism(v1).  There, he passed the tests that Israel failed and the scope of what resulted cannot be captured by words.  It was the proving of Jesus Christ's obedience.  Is this not the very thing that saves us?  Can we not be filled with joy at the sound of hearing that Jesus came up out of the wilderness as THE proven, obedient servant of God?  Yes, and we should see it this way!  He succeeded where everyone one of us would have failed, thus securing the spotlessness of the sacrifice.  Oh, if the devil had convinced him we would not have an unblemished sacrifice and it would not then suffice.  Thank the Lord that Jesus obeyed in the wilderness.

And so we return to our original question.  Jesus fulfilled this Scripture, not by reading it as he was accustomed to doing, but by reading it as the one who had obeyed the Lord in the wilderness.  The only proven man to ever walk the face of the planet.  Now, having been tested, Jesus can truly be the one anointed by God to preach the gospel to the poor, proclaim release to the captive and to give sight to the blind.  "And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit,..."  Praise God for His perfect obedience.

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