And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and 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 liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.”
And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:16-21)
How did Jesus fulfill these things? There were still poor, oppressed people there at the time and there would be after he left. He was doing more than they expected. What he was doing was more important than getting rid of the Romans or restoring material blessing. What’s the point of getting rid of the Romans if you’re still enslaved to sin? Why explain the finer points of the law when our hearts want to reject the giver of the law? Jesus bypasses what they were expecting because he wants to go deeper. He doesn’t want to clean up a spot, he wants to grab a scalpel and cut out the root.
The problem is worse than physical poverty, it’s spiritual poverty - we are not pure and holy and Jesus has come to proclaim the good news that that can change - by Jesus taking our sin and giving us his righteousness (2cor5:21)
The problem is worse than being in prison or exile or occupation, it’s slavery to sin - we can’t walk away from it, we keep going back to it. Jesus has come to proclaim freedom from that - breaking the bondage of sin (Gal 5:1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery)
The problem is worse than physical blindness, it’s spiritual blindness - we are blind to the reality of who God is and keep messing around with man-made religion like the blind leading the blind. Jesus healed blindness as a practical demonstration of the fact that he is the light of the world, revealing our true nature as rebels and God’s true nature as a loving Father.
The problem is worse than rich people oppressing poor or powerful oppressing weak, it’s the condition of the human heart that makes us want to oppress and exploit, that makes us love ourselves and use others. Jesus has come to set us free from that by giving us everything when we deserve nothing.
Jesus has come to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour, which is more than the year of jubilee when slaves were freed and land returned. It’s a spiritual Jubliee, it’s God lavishing grace on us freely. It’s about Jesus making a way for an unholy people to be welcomed back into the presence of a holy God.