The Messiah Ministers to Israel

Coming out of the wilderness and entering into Galilee, Jesus, filled with the Spirit, began to teach and heal the sick. He returned to the synagogue in Nazareth to introduce his Messianic mission to his hometown.

Unrolling the scroll, he found the place in Isaiah 61 and read it (Luke 4:18-19).

The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Rolling the scroll back up and handing it to the attendant, Jesus boldly declared (Luke 4:21b): “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Isaiah’s message described the mission of Jesus. He is God’s anointed, and his messianic mission is to bring “good news” or, the gospel, to the poor, the prisoners, the blind, and the oppressed. His mission has economic, social, and spiritual implications. Through Jesus, God will liberate all who are enslaved by the present evil age. It is a time of divine favor and grace.  

In the language of Israel, it is Jubilee! What Jubilee should have meant to Israel throughout its history breaks into the world through the ministry of Jesus.  Jubilee means that prisoners are released, the poor get good news through debt release, the sick are healed, and the oppressed are liberated from their bondage. Jubilee has arrived in the person of Jesus who proclaims that the reign of God has come near.

At a “big picture” level, from the viewpoint of the whole theodrama, Jubilee reverses the curse. What I mean by curse is what I think Revelation 22 means when it says that in the new Jerusalem there will be no more curse. The curse is whatever enslaves the creation and its people. The curse fills creation with mourning, pain, injustice, poverty, evil, and ultimately death.

The mission of Jesus is to reverse the curse. The ministry of Jesus liberates humanity from the curse, from whatever enslaves it. This is the mission of Jesus. It is why he was sent.  It is what he preaches and what he does!

This is the “good news of the kingdom of God” (Luke 4:43). The kingdom of God has come near and when the kingdom comes near the brokenness of the world is healed.  The curse is reversed. The kingdom is not the structures and organization of an institutionalized church.  Rather, the kingdom is the reign of God in the world. When God reigns, there is no more curse. When God reigns, people are reconciled.  When God reigns, diseases, demons, and death are overcome. When God reigns, sins are forgiven. When God reigns, the poor and the oppressed get justice. And that is good news.

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