As Jesus begins His Mission, to fulfil the “Year of the Lord’s Favour” – the year of Jubilee, two things become immediately obvious.
First, His mission will be global. The Sabbath rest that Jesus came to offer is going to be offered to all humanity. Secondly, this global offer is going to mean conflict.
The locals in Nazareth are excited about the prospect of Jesus promising liberation, but they seethe with murderous rage when Jesus parallels His ministry with the Gentile mission of Elijah and Elisha. Jesus plans to offer salvation to all the wrong people.
The irony is this. Jesus was living in a time of great expectation. The Jews were longing for the appearance of a Messiah who would deliver them from their enemies. Many of the Synagogues of Jesus’ day, following a standard liturgy, would have been preaching on the same passage in Isaiah.
Synagogue Sermons preserved from the first century on Isaiah 61 show the great hope of a coming Messiah. So, in one Galilean synagogue you have a sermon expressing longing for a Saviour and just down the road, you have another synagogue trying to kill Him!
Walking through the blood thirsty crowd, Jesus gets on with the business of fulfilling the year of Jubilee. And what do we see? Two things. We see Jesus dismantling a Kingdom. Having won a decisive victory over Satan, Jesus now begins to plunder the strong man’s house. He liberates those enslaved by demons, sickness and sin. Jesus is taking the land. He is the Ultimate David, doing battle on behalf of His people.
Secondly, He begins the work of rebuilding a new Israel. Gathering disciples and setting them apart for the ongoing work of conquest and rebuilding.
The church continues the pattern of Jubilee labour set down and fulfilled by Jesus. We are called to declare liberty to those held hostage to sin and the kingdom of darkness. Like the Jubilee, we work to see Jesus free people from slavery. But having been made free, what do we do with ourselves?
We begin the task of rebuilding. Man in the gospel is restored to the labour he was created for. To fill the earth with godly culture and multiply. To build up the Kingdom of God on earth. The gospel transforms labour from one of futility and struggle to one of productive enterprise. We work to liberate and we work to build.
Lessons for Little Saints…
What is Jesus freeing people from in Luke Chapter 4?
Why are the people angry with Jesus?
How is Jesus like Joshua and David?
How is Jesus like Solomon?