A Bible Reading that Made Them Angry


Reading the Bible with me? Then grab your pen and journal and read Isaiah 61-63. I want to focus on the first few verses of chapter sixty-one. Verses one and two are the words the Lord Jesus read to His hometown crowd in Nazareth. You can find the story in Luke 4. After His baptism and testing in the wilderness, He returned peaching a message of repentance because the Kingdom of God was near.

He had gained some fame because the news of His preaching had come to Nazareth. On the Sabbath, as was His custom, He went to the local synagogue and was asked to read scripture and speak a few words. Someone handed Him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah and He read the words from Isaiah 61:1-2. He sat down, as was normal for a teacher, and said to those attending, “Today, this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” People marveled at His eloquence and seemed surprised that the son of Joseph and Mary could now be teaching in their synagogue and even subtly claiming that He was the promised Messiah. The crowd was intrigued until Jesus began to reveal to them historical and biblical truth. He spoke of God sending Elijah to the Gentile woman in Zarephath. He also spoke of God sending Naaman the Gentile to Elisha for healing. In other words, Jesus was telling them that God shows no bias or favoritism. He welcomes anyone who calls on Him in Faith.

This has been true since the Garden of Eden. Adam was not a Jew. Noah was not a Jew. We have no certainty that Job was a Jew. But they were men of faith. Abram was a Chaldean whom God called out of Ur. He was a polytheistic idolator. But when God spoke to him, he responded with faith. The Spirit of God empowered the Lord Jesus to give hope to the poor, to free those imprisoned by the Law through grace, to enlighten those who had been blinded to the good news and set free those who were downtrodden. Indeed, it was the favorable year of the Lord that day. The Seed had finally come, the burden of the Law would be broken, atonement would come to all who would trust and obey Him.

The people reacted to His mention of salvation for the Gentiles left the worshipers enraged. The forced him out toward a place where they could stone Him. But it was not His time and He merely walked through them. Salvation has always been for anyone who trusts and obeys God! When Isaiah wrote these words seven hundred years before the birth of Jesus, he had no idea that one day, the Messiah, the King of kings and Lord of lords would use them to remind his readers that the Messiah would be for all who trust and obey.