The Messiah Anna Longed For

The Messiah's Purpose

Isaiah 61:1-2a

The Spirit of the Lord God is on Me,
because the Lord has anointed Me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives
and freedom to the prisoners;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

Today, we finish with our selections from Isaiah.

Jesus read these verses in the synagogue in Nazareth. Reading them was fine. As an adult Jewish male, you could expect to be called on to come and read at some point.

Then he told them that these verses were fulfilled that day and because of him.

You might think that claim would start the riot. But no. They were OK with that, too. However they did wonder at the words and wanted him to explain and reveal himself.

The citizens of Nazareth sat on the edge of their seats, open-mouthed. They had heard this local boy could now do miracles. What would he do here, for his hometown? The expected him to pull out all the stops. Messiah on tour, you know?

He told them ‘no’ with two stories from Scripture that they knew. For two amazing Old Testament miracles, the healing of a leper and an endless provision of food, prophets had been sent to Gentiles to perform God’s signs.

The hometown could expect nothing. And for this, they wanted to stone him.

In other words, Jesus’ refusal to play along and show off revealed their selfishness. Without the promise of the traveling miracle show, they wanted revenge for his humiliation of them. At the very least, they wanted a show and attraction of another kind—his death.

What a contrast to the words he read! If only they had truly listened with heart, soul and spirit.

Christ on earth was not a traveling circus. He did not “put on” the same events in every town. Instead, through the Spirit of the Lord, he sought the poor, the captive, the blind and the oppressed… He sought those who recognized the tombs that sin had trapped them in. And then he showed them what the redemption of Jerusalem, and all people, would entail.

He set them free.

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