Jesus comes out of the wilderness, and word quickly spreads along the Galilean grapevine that one of their own has begun to teach, with unprecedented authority. Jesus goes to the synagogue in His hometown, Nazareth, and begins to preach (vv. 14–16).
This is Jesus’ first recorded sermon in Luke’s gospel, and in this sermon, He announces who He is and why He has come. In this sermon, an exposition of Isaiah 61:1–2 and 58:6, Jesus gives us an example of His Spirit-empowered preaching and teaching. It is a simple sermon, with just two basic points.
First, Jesus is the long-awaited Servant of the Lord, the Messiah, one who will bring salvation to Israel (v. 21). Second, the ministry of the servant is to proclaim good news to the poor (vv. 18–19). This is Jesus’ mission in a nutshell. It is about preaching, proclaiming, and announcing. This is His first work (see v. 43). Preaching what? Freedom, liberation, and release. Luke will go on to tell us in both this gospel and Acts that the greatest liberation that Jesus both announces and effects is the forgiveness of our sins. To whom does Jesus preach this good news of forgiveness? The poor, blind, prisoners, and oppressed.
The poor are completely destitute. In the Old Testament, the term referred to both physical and spiritual poverty. The poor were the humble believers in the Lord who were utterly dependent on Him. We will meet them throughout Luke’s gospel. Some are materially poor, blind, lame, or demon-possessed. Others are materially wealthy, but spiritually desperate for mercy and forgiveness. Whatever their circumstances, they come to the Saviour empty, heads bowed and on their knees, weeping, “Lord, have mercy.” They go away forgiven and restored.
Today, you’ll find the poor in slums and shanty towns, ordinary apartment blocks, and even mansions and palaces. Their economic circumstances may differ, but in this they are one: they know their desperate need for help, and they come to the only One who can bring them life, healing, and salvation.
Can you think of times in your own life when you’ve been aware of your poverty—material, spiritual, or both— and have turned in desperation to the Lord Jesus?
Jesus came to “release prisoners”. What about sin makes it a kind of spiritual bondage?