The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: “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.” Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
An Amazing Claim
Have you ever heard somebody make a claim about themselves that you had a hard time believing? “I used to be in the secret service and worked for five US Presidents.” “I met legendary coach Bobby Knight and was asked to assist with his summer camp.” “My parents competed on the US National Curling Team.” “I worked under Hillary Clinton in the State Department.” If we know the person to be a liar or if we just can’t see it because of what else we know of the person, we meet such claims with a shake of the head or a raising of the eyebrow: “It’s not true!” If we know and trust the people who make the claim, we are fascinated by such connections and accomplishments. Perhaps we begin to think differently or more highly about that person, and our respect and awe for them grows.
Early in his earthly ministry Jesus of Nazareth made a claim about himself. He visited a Jewish house of worship, a synagogue, and read a passage written some 700 years earlier by the well-known prophet Isaiah. Those who took God’s Old Testament words seriously knew this selection to be talking about the long-awaited Messiah. This Anointed One (did you know that the words Messiah and Christ are both titles that mean “the anointed one?”) would come and do wonderful, fantastic, beautiful, yes miraculous, things! How the people looked for and longed for this Messiah who would bring a message of good news, freedom, and healing. Can you imagine the stunned silence in the room when Jesus made the claim that he was the one Isaiah had been talking about? Many of the people there in his hometown rejected him and his claim. They just couldn’t see it.
It has been several thousand years since Jesus made that claim about himself to a small group of people in a Galilean synagogue. But he still makes that claim about himself in the Bible today. Jesus is rightly called the Christ because he fulfilled every word written about him. He talked the talk and walked the walk. He tells us and shows us that God so loved us he sent a Savior from sin. Jesus proclaims that God looks on us with favor because he himself has done everything to wipe away anything that would bring God’s disfavor. He frees us from the prison house of sin and slavery to the deceiver. He promises life and heaven as he speaks to us about his resurrection from death and ascension into heaven. By Spirit-worked faith we trust Jesus’ amazing claim and receive all the blessings the truth of his claim brings to us!
Holy Spirit, open my eyes more and more through the power of the gospel to see Jesus as the anointed one, my Savior from sin, death, and hell, that I might live and face death with peace, joy, and hope. In Jesus’ name. Amen.