Saturday, April 9, 2011

Luke 4:16-31: The Time of Fulfillment Has Come

Jesus did not end up staying in Cana for very long before He began His return to Nazareth. It might have even been within the week when He found Himself in His hometown on the Sabbath, preparing to worship at the synagogue where He had grown up.

A typical synagogue service began with the Shema, taken from Deuteronomy 6:4-9,
"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Next would come a set of prayers, including the Tephillah and the Eighteen Benedictions. After this the chazzan, or minister, would approach the Ark (a special container in the manner of the ark in the temple) and bring out the scroll of the Law. All present would kiss the scroll, as it was unwrapped, before the hearing of God's word.

Seven men would then be selected to read from the Law and the Prophets. First a portion from the Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy) would be read, and then a section from the Prophets. After the reading of the scriptures someone would be invited to teach on the passages. The ancient Jews highly valued good preaching, so this was always considered an honor. Often the speaker linked the texts together through appeal to other passages. The service then closed with a benediction.

From His reading Jesus explained that "the Spirit of the Lord was upon Him," the meaning of which was deep for those reading Luke's gospel -- Jesus had been anointed with the Holy Spirit at His baptism as the Messiah. He then explained that Isaiah's prophecy was being fulfilled in Him, before their very eyes.

As one commentary put it, "For those looking to God for hope, Jesus was the answer. To respond to God, one must be open to him. For those in need of God, Jesus has a message of good news." Jesus' physical miracles were powerful demonstrations of the even more miraculous healing and restoration He was capable of performing in the spiritual realm.

Jesus had come to "proclaim the year of God's favor," a reference to the Jubilee. The background for this is the sabbath years, and the Jubilee that God wrote into the law for ancient Israel. Crop rotation was an unknown concept in ancient times, but when God instituted the Sabbath Year, He did it so that the land could benefit from resting, and the soil would be replenished.

People were not to work the fields or have organized harvests, but whatever the land produced naturally, anyone could come and get enough to have a meal from it. The idea was that every person living in Israel would be God's guest at His table, the poor, the sojourner, everybody.

Not only did the land rest, but so did the people and farm animals. The normal activities that go with farming and animal husbandry, besides just taking care of their animals' basic needs, were prohibited – animals were not to be worked and servants were not to be worked either.

During the Sabbath Year all debts were to be canceled, all Israelite slaves were to be freed. At the Feast of Tabernacles, when all the Israelites came in to Jerusalem to celebrate the final harvest and give thanks for God's provision in the desert, they would also have a Bible conference. The people would receive special instruction from the priests, teaching them God's word in an organized way and the whole rest of the year would be holy, dedicated to the Lord.

God would see to it that they would be provided for, that they would have enough in order to obey God. How seriously do you and I take God's instructions concerning rest and good stewardship? They had to trust God for that bumper crop every sixth year in order to take the Sabbath year.

The Jubilee was to occur every 7x7, or fifty, years. God intended the Year of Jubilee to be a blessing for everyone. All land was returned to the original owner as their holy inheritance from the Lord. Everyone was to eat at God’s table for a year and enjoy the work of God’s hands, to look around at what God had done for them and say "It is all good" with grateful hearts.

Jesus presented three important concepts:
(1) Jesus is anointed with the Holy Spirit

(2) He is the of fulfillment of two thousand plus years of prophecy concerning the Redeemer, the Messiah. He is "the prophet like Moses," for He is bringing in the new era of salvation

3) Jesus not only proclaims the good news, He embodies it: He is Messiah

If this post got you to thinking, please leave a comment by clicking on the word "comments" below, and join the conversation

1 comment:

  1. I love the Shema. If we all practiced it, we would live in a much better world.
    As usual, you don't disappoint. You have given some in-depth study here.

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