His Custom –
Nazareth was the home town of the Lord Jesus. It was the place where He had grown up, and yet, we are going to see, He was not accepted, even in His own town.
Habits are formed in every one of our lives, and some are good, while others are not. In growing up at Nazareth, the Lord had adopted only customs which were spiritually beneficial. Luke has already drawn attention to these customs in chapter 2, verse 42, when he tells us that Mary and Joseph, as their custom was, went up to the house of God at Jerusalem. Here, the Lord goes into the synagogue and stands up to read the word of God. How important it is to regularly be in a place where the scriptures are read and explained.
It says He found the place where it was written, by unrolling the scroll that contained Isaiah’s prophecy until He came to the place we now know as chapter 61. The Lord, as the Author of the scriptures, could easily have just quoted verbatim this particular passage. However, He took up the parchment in order to show them the authority of the written word of God.
His Commission –
The words He read clearly applied to Him. He was anointed by the Spirit with a view to preaching the gospel to the poor. We have already noted the activity of the Divine Spirit in relation to the Lord: at His birth, the Spirit came upon Mary, and the Power of the Almighty overshadowed her. At His baptism, the Spirit descended like a dove upon Him. At His temptation, being full of the Holy Spirit, He was led into the wilderness, and, in verse 14 of this chapter, He returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee. Truly, He is a picture of the Spirit-filled Man. We, as believers, are expected to be filled with the Holy Spirit, which is an ongoing experience. As Paul says in Ephesians 5, “be filled with the Spirit,” that is, keep on being filled with the Spirit. We must give control of our lives over to the Holy Spirit of God.
Notice the categories of people that the Lord has in mind for blessing through His preaching: the broken-hearted, the bound, the blind and the bruised!
He came to make whole those who had been crushed by sin; to deliver away from the slavery that sin brings into the lives of people who cannot break its power; to open the eyes of those who were in spiritual darkness, blinded as to who He really was; to release, through His forgiveness, those whose lives were shattered through the calamities that come as a result of pursuing a sinful life. This is what the Spirit had anointed Him to do, and this, He told them, was the day when God was being favourable toward them. He told them this was the day of fulfilment for these scriptures, and they fastened their eyes on Him in amazement. However, some commented – no doubt in a disbelieving way – that this was Joseph’s son.
The Lord then shows to them that it was just out of curiosity that they were hoping He would do some miracle among them, as they had heard He had done elsewhere. He knew that here, in His own country, they did not honour Him as the Son of God. He cites two examples from their history to show how they had missed the blessing of God in the past because of unbelief. In Elijah’s day, when there was famine, God did not provide for His servant through just any widow in Israel. He sent Elijah to a woman in Sarepta, a city belonging to the Sidonians. Then again, in Elisha’s day, no lepers in Israel were cleansed by God, but Naaman the Syrian was! How fickle crowds can be. Previously, they had wondered at the gracious words He spoke (verse 22); now, they were filled with wrath. They forced Him out of their city, and were about to throw Him over the brow of the hill, but Jesus miraculously passed through the crowd and went His way!