Fulfilling Scripture – Luke 4.21

“Now Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, 

because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. 

He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives 

and the regaining of sight to the blind, 

to set free those who are 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 fixed on him. Then he began to tell them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled even as you heard it being read.””

(Luke 4.16-21, NET)

After returning from the wilderness in the power of the Spirit to Galilee (4.14), Jesus taught Scripture in synagogues and was, it seems, warmly received (4.15). In His hometown of Nazareth he did just this, and read from Isaiah 61,

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, 

because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. 

He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives 

and the regaining of sight to the blind, 

to set free those who are oppressed,

to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

So far, so good. Scripture reading received, Jesus then drops a verbal bombshell,

Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to tell them, 

Today this scripture has been fulfilled even as you heard it being read.””

(Emphasis added)

Reading this Messianic Scripture in a synagogue and claiming it has been fulfilled was a huge statement. Jesus was saying, simply, “I am the Messiah”. Jesus was claiming to be the long-awaited Messiah that would bring about God’s Kingdom.

Could these be the words of a liar or a lunatic? Maybe.

Given the next utterance He makes, Jesus is not lying to get the crowd on His side (more on that tomorrow).

Perhaps these are the words, as C.S. Lewis said, of a lunatic? A lunatic could conceivably believe that they were someone they were not. I’m not sure a lunatic would be so well-versed in Scripture, though. Sure, they might catch onto the idea that there was this future figure, a Messiah, a coming conquer and deliverer who would bring about a new way of life and usher in God’s Kingdom. They might have heard and dreamed and started to believe, “Yeah, I like the sound of that”. Would they announce themselves cooly and calmly and through a properly-exegeted piece of Scripture? No. 

Again then, given what we know about the life, ministry, death, resurrection, and future promises of Jesus, His claim in Luke 4.21 is not one of a liar nor of a lunatic. It must then, be the claim of the Lord.   

Published by James Travis

Pastor of Saar Fellowship in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Married to Robyn and Dad to our two boys.

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