“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the Gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the broken-hearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set al liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord”
(Luke 4:18-19; Isaiah 61:1, 2a)
At the commencement of His earthly ministry Jesus was given the opportunity to read from the Scriptures in the synagogue in Nazareth. He was handed the book of Isaiah and He began reading from what we know as chapter 61. This was no accident or coincidence. It was deliberate. What caused all eyes to be fixed on Him when He stopped (v20) was that he stopped reading mid sentence and clearly identified Himself with the passage.
The portion that He read relates to His first advent and the portion that He did not read (Isaiah 61:2b, 3) relates to His second advent.
There are a lot of reasons for the “Christmas season” given by people but this passage gives one expression of the reason for Jesus’ first advent.
First and foremost He came to preach the gospel, the good news. The “poor” in this context are not necessarily materially poor. They are spiritually poor or spiritually bankrupt as in Matthew 5:3: “Blessed are the poor.”
Those who know they are spiritually bankrupt, are broken-hearted over sin, are held captive by false religion, blind to the truth and downtrodden by wickedness are those for whom Jesus came. A baby in a manger may make a great story but it does not tell us why He came.
Jesus ascribes this reason in Isaiah as the reason for His earthly mission. Jesus later said, “As You (the Father) sent Me into the world, I (the Son) also have sent them into the world” (John 17:18). Therefore since we are sent on His mission, in His name and under His authority, then it is also our mission until such time as He says enough by calling us home.
Meditating on this passage will help us refocus on His mission shared with us and the reason for Jesus first advent.
On one occasion I heard a non-Christian say that the only people in the world who have any joy at Christmas are Christians. For everyone else it has become a materialistic nightmare of shopping, eating, drinking and debt. For those who have to arrange all the parties and family get-togethers it is an administrative nightmare as well. Families who cannot get on together all year are thrust together for a miserable day. No wonder they hate it. They have left Christ, and all that He brings, out of their Christmas.
Please do not leave Christ out of your Christmas or neglect the mission of privilege He has given you in the coming year.