16 He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. As usual, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath day and stood up to read. 17 The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to Him, and unrolling the scroll, He found the place where it was written: 18 The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. 20 He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. And the eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today as you listen, this Scripture has been fulfilled.”
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
In this passage Jesus claims He’s the fulfillment of prophecy, that He’s the one they’d been waiting for. In this story, we see Jesus is saying and doing everything in the Spirit. In His teaching, He starts to ignite conversation in people regarding who He is.
Why would His teaching cause such fame? At the synagogue, Jesus read: “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (verse 21). It was a short reading, and one that had most likely been heard since childhood, but there are three significant things that happened as Jesus began to speak that day:
- Jesus was anointed in the Spirit.
- Jesus let us know He’s the fulfillment of prophecy and the one declaring “Good News.”
- In that fulfillment, Jesus wasn’t just teaching Good News, but He was the Good News!
People had been waiting for a Messiah for thousands of years. Finally, someone they knew was claiming with great confidence to be this long-awaited one. You can imagine the silence or the whispers that started to ensue as a group of people tried to digest what they’d just been told.
What do these listeners do? We know that everyone in the synagogue heard the same thing. But do you believe they all had the same reaction to what they heard? Likely not. People can hope for things for years, but when it sits right in front of them—even something as eternally significant as Jesus—it’s hard to have unwavering belief.
Jesus wasn’t trying to separate Himself from Jewish teaching and tradition, but rather show that He’s the fulfillment of that promise. That fulfillment proved to look different than what most would’ve expected, but it was a fulfillment that answered and pointed back to all prophetic promises and even more than they could’ve hoped for.
Jesus spoke with confidence to those knowledgeable of the law and Scripture. It’s important for us to know the Word of God as well, to recognize when we’re told truths or inaccuracies. By studying God’s Word and knowing it, we come to a deeper relationship with Him. As time passed, Jesus fulfilled His proclamations and some came to believe it as truth.
Lord, please let us be open to knowing and seeing You more deeply. Let us know You by Your Word and Your promises, let us seek to understand, and let us be patient as You reveal Your work to us in our journeys even when they may come in the most unexpected of ways. Please let us continue to pay attention to Your work in our lives.
Jesus called people to decide—choose to believe or not. Today, we’re notorious for debating issues to death or making everything ok for everyone. We want to be so accepting and not hurtful to anyone that we end up inadvertently back down without saying what we truly believe in.
Sometimes the gospel isn’t what people want to hear. It shines a light on things that are in our sinful nature. We’d much rather justify our sinfulness than be told we’re, heaven forbid, wrong. We have to decide what we believe and why. Do we believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that He’s the light of the world, that He’s prophecy fulfilled? If we truly believe this and seek God through His Word, then why should we sit on fences when conversations turn to things that may seem uncomfortable?
Let us boldly listen well and respond with confidence that the Lord is real and true. Let us continue to seek to know Him more so these opportunities aren’t scary but fun. When you listen well to someone, talking to them and not at them, it’s amazing how a conversation can turn into a relationship that goes beyond the moment and which the Lord can continue on into eternity.
On our team we have a co-worker who gave herself the challenge of having a spiritual conversation one day before leaving the gym. She talks about having been there for some time and no opportunity seemed to come along. She continued to pray about whom to talk to and how, and although the opportunities were in front of her they didn’t seem like they were hitting her like a neon sign.
The truth of the matter is that most of the time these opportunities do not come to us in the form of neon signs. Ultimately we just have to trust that God is who He says He is and that the Spirit will either lead or not—but it is our job to choose to participate.
Before she left the gym on that day, she realized that a couple of ladies were speaking in a different language. She asked them where they were from, which led to a conversation about family, and then she asked them if there was anything she could pray for them about.
They were genuinely surprised by the question, but not because they were not open to the request. They were actually very thankful. They were just surprised because they found that Americans didn’t generally seem to want to “go there.” My friend could have assumed that nothing would come from starting up a conversation. However, she chose to act.
- That is my challenge to you this week. Start a spiritual conversation. It could be as simple as asking if you can pray with or for someone, or it can be about much more. The choice is yours. Just choose to start and let the Spirit take it from there.