1. At this text begins Jesus' Great Galilean Ministry which lasted about two and one-half years (See Buls' lecture on "The Life of Christ", St. Petersburg, 1993). Jesus' earlier Judean Ministry is detailed mostly by John. Our text occurs where Jesus grew up, Nazareth.
2. Matthew 13:53-58 and Mark 6:1-6 are parallels to our text. Because of the differences in those texts from our text some scholars have thought that they denote a different occasion. In any case, our text tells about Jesus' first sermon in His home town.
3. Our text mentions a synagogue, a Greek word which means "gathering." Until the Babylonian Captivity (ca. 600 B.C.) there were no synagogues. The Jews worshipped at the Temple in Jerusalem. But when the Jews were taken to Babylon they had no Temple. They built places to worship, called "synagogues." After 70 years the Jews were returned to Jerusalem but continued to build synagogues. The OldTestament did not require to gather on the Sabbath Day. It was a day of rest. See Exodus 20:8-11. In the synagogues the Jews read the Old Testament on the Sabbath. It was Jesus' custom to worship in the synagogues. In our text Jesus was invited to preach. He picked His own text.
4. At Jesus' time there were no books, only scrolls which rolled up. "The book of Isaiah the Prophet" in our text means "the scroll of the Prophet Isaiah." Verse 17 says that Jesus unrolled the scroll. This is the only reference to Jesus' ability to read.
5. St. Luke recorded verses 18-19 according to the Septuagint (LXX), the Greek translation of the Old Testament. But Jesus very likely read the text in Hebrew (or Aramaic), not Greek.
6. There were three kinds of Law in the Old Testament, given by Moses. See Buls' lecture on Interpreting the Bible, Part E: The Principle of Law and Gospel. We summarize here:
7. Not only does Christ fulfill all Old Testament Law, above all, He fulfills all the Messianic Promises in the Old Testament. In our text He fulfills Isaiah 61:1-3. At Acts 10:43 Peter said: "To Him (Christ) all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive the remission of sins." Jesus said (John 5:39): "Search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me." At Luke 24:27 we are told: "And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He (Christ) expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself."
8. Verse 18 of our text plainly mentions all three persons of the Trinity just as do John 14:16 and 15:26.
9. Today is the first day of the new church year. Wish the people a joyous and happy New Year in Jesus Christ. May the Lord bless the preaching of His Word to His glory and the extension of His Kingdom on earth.
THEME: Christ's Great Announcement
Happy New Year! Today is the first day of the church year, Advent I. Our text tells us about the first sermon Jesus preached, so far as we know. He preached in His home town. Though they rejected Him (vs. 23-29) Jesus' announcement still stands forever.
I. HIS ANNOUNCEMENT IS BASED ON WHAT HE FULFILLED, VS. 21
A. He fulfilled the Sabbath for us. Verses 15-16. Jesus followed the custom of His day. He regularly went to the synagogue on the Sabbath Day. On this day He was asked to preach. The Sabbath Day itself is important. It means "rest." It was a shadow of Christ who was to come. Colossians 2:16-17. God rested on the seventh day, the Sabbath. Genesis 2:2. Likewise Israel was to rest on this day. Exodus 20:9-11. Christ fulfilled the Sabbath and now the rest of heaven awaits us. Matthew 11:28; Hebrews 2:4-11. The Sabbath is gone and we look only to Christ.
B. He fulfilled the Jubilee Year for us, verse 19. Read Leviticus 25:8-55. For the Jews every 50th year was a year free from work and debts. Like the Sabbath, the Jubilee Year was a shadow of Christ who constantly gives us freedom from sin, death and the devil.Galatians 5:1; John 8:31. The Sabbath and the Jubilee Year gave the Israelites physical rest and freedom from debts. Christ gives us release from our debt to God.
C. He fulfilled the moral law for us.This is not stated in so many words in our text but it is clearly implied. The poor, prisoners, blind and crushed in verse 18 do not speak of physical ailments because Jesus says: "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled while you were listening." He must have been speaking about the Gospel. Galatians 3:13 says: "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse in our stead." And Romans 10:4: "Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to everyone who believes." The threats and curse of the Law come to an end for him who believes. He is forgiven.
II. THE ESSENCE OF CHRIST'S ANNOUNCEMENT
A. As to his person, verse 18. Eight hundred years before Christ came Isaiah prophesied that the Holy Spirit would come on the human nature of Christ. God anointed Christ with the Holy Spirit and power. Acts 10:38. The Spirit even led Jesus into the desert to be tempted in our stead. Luke 4:1. God himself equipped Jesus with the Holy Spirit to save us.
B. It is the announcement of the forgiveness of sins. Why did God send Jesus? Three times our text says: to preach, to preach, to preach. The forgiveness of sins comes through the Word of God. It is the power of God to salvation. The Word works in and through baptism. The Word works in the Lord's Supper. On Sunday morning the pastor announces the forgiveness of sins to his people, just as Jesus did. How often Jesus said: "I forgive you." We mention it daily in the Lord's Prayer. The work of the church and of every Christian is to announce forgiveness of sins. That's what Jesus did in our text.
Will it be a happy new year? Yes, if we have Jesus and His forgiveness. The Bible is full of suffering Christians who went to heaven because they believed the announcement of Jesus. Amen.