A Study Of Luke 4:14-22

The Lord Jesus grew up in Nazareth, which was a city in Galilee. When His time came to minister to His people, the Lord Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River in Judea. Then He was in the wilderness for 40 days where He was tempted by the Devil.

Now we read in Luke 4:14.

Luke 4:14
And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee.

Is this important?

Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit (Luke 4:1, Luke 4:14-18, Acts 1:8)

God thinks it is important, because God records it three times. Look at verse 1,

Luke 4:1
And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.

Christ laid down His heavenly glory: He took on a human body and made Himself subject to God the Holy Spirit. All His activities were led by God the Holy Spirit. Verse 1 says that immediately after His baptism Jesus, in the power of the Holy Spirit, was driven into the wilderness for 40 days.

Then we read it again in verse 18, where the Lord Jesus said:

Luke 4:18
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor;

In other words, God the Holy Spirit had anointed Him, had qualified Him, and had sent Him in the power of the Holy Spirit to preach the Gospel to the poor. There were two things Jesus came to do: He came to die for our sins on the cross, and He came to preach the Gospel. Before Jesus went back to heaven He told His disciples that they now had to preach the Gospel to the poor.

We read in Acts 1:

Acts 1:8
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Here again, God the Holy Spirit has to qualify people to preach the Gospel, so that they can bring the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit unto the uttermost parts of the earth.

How does God the Holy Spirit qualify people?

He does it by making them “Born Again”. In other words, God gives them a new soul, which is perfect and righteous in the sight of God. Therefore, only if someone is truly saved is that person qualified by the Holy Spirit to bring the Gospel. Beginning at Pentecost, all those who have been truly saved are qualified to spread the Gospel into the world.

Luke 4:14
And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about.

Luke 4:15
And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all.

How Do We Listen to the Word of God? (Luke 4:18)

After Jesus had been preaching and healing people for several months, He returned to Nazareth. Now, Nazareth was “a nothing city”. It was totally insignificant from every point of view. The Lord Jesus was doing Nazareth a big favor by visiting His hometown. Now we read in verse 16,

Luke 4:16
And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up for to read.

Jesus went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day as His custom was.

Moreover, Jesus went to the synagogue to serve, not to be served. That must be our attitude when we come to church: Not to be served, but to serve.

Let’s continue with verses 17 and 18,

Luke 4:17
And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias (Isaiah). And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,

Luke 4:18
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,

The Lord of glory, Jesus Christ, was reading the Word of God to these people in the synagogue of Nazareth. What a glorious event: God was speaking to them.

But how were these people listening?

Some were looking for a faith-healer. They were looking for some excitement on the Sabbath. They were not looking for a Messiah who could save them from their sins. They were Abraham’s children. They did not need to be saved from sins. Neither did they want to hear Jesus preaching to them.

Others were seeing Jesus only as the carpenter of Nazareth. They had no high regard for Him. They said: “Is not this Joseph’s son?”

He is just like one of us.

Who does He think He is?

He is not someone special. And so they heaped scorn on Him.

It is true that Jesus was the carpenter of Nazareth. But He was also a spiritual carpenter in that He prepared a place for us, by paying for our sins on the cross. He was a spiritual carpenter in that He prepared the New Testament Temple of God, by dying on the cross and being raised the third day.

How are we listening to the Word of God?

Do we realize that Almighty God is speaking to us every time we open the Bible?

How seriously do we take His Word?

Are we just reading Bible stories and do we memorize these pieces of history without any spiritual content?

If we do that, then we are reading the Bible just like these Jews in Nazareth. Let us read the Bible as God has intended. Let us:

Compare Scripture with Scripture (Luke 4:18, Isaiah 61:1)

Luke 4:18
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,

Some people say that Jesus was reading from the Septuagint, which was a Greek translation of the Old Testament. But do you realize, that is an insult to the Son of God, as if He could not read the Hebrew scrolls. All the Jews could speak and read Hebrew. When the Apostle Paul preached to a multitude of zealous Jews in Acts 22, he spoke in the Hebrew tongue. Jesus was reading from Isaiah in Hebrew.

But here in Luke 4:18 we see an example of how the New Testament provides additional revelation from God, and how we must use the New Testament to reinterpret the Old Testament. Let’s compare this with Isaiah 61:1. There we read:

Isaiah 61:1
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;

These verses are filled with symbolism. “The meek” in Isaiah 61:1 are “the poor” in Luke 4:18.

When Jesus said: “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”, and “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth” Jesus was referring to the same group of people. They are the ones to whom the Gospel will be preached and who will become saved by the power of God. It is the same group of people who are the broken-hearted. Before we become saved God has to break our will, so that we come broken in heart before God, and we are pleading for mercy. It is the same group of people who are the captives because we were captives of sin and Satan before we became saved.

In Isaiah 61:1 to those captives is proclaimed liberty. Christ proclaims to us freedom from oppression by Sin and Satan. In Luke 4:18 the translators used the words “to preach deliverance to the captives”. Literally, however, the Greek text says “to preach forgiveness to the captives”. The word forgiveness is a better translation, because it captivates the spiritual meaning of “to preach forgiveness to the captives”.

How is forgiveness of sins obtained from a perfectly righteous Judge?

There is only one way forgiveness for any sin can be obtained, and that is through the cross of Christ. Then Isaiah 61:1 concludes with: “opening of the prison to them that are bound”.

Not only is liberty proclaimed to the captives, but action follows and they are actually set free.

How are they set free?

The answer comes in Luke 4:18, “recovering of sight to the blind”.

We were spiritually bound because we were spiritually blind. We are set free from this blindness by the action of God in making us Born Again. Then in Luke 4:18 Jesus added the words: “To set at liberty them that are bruised”.

To preach “an acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:19, Isaiah 61:2, 2 Corinthians 6:2)

We read in Luke 4:19,

Luke 4:19
To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

In the Greek text the definite article is absent. Literally it says: “To preach (an) acceptable year of the Lord”.

Certainly “the acceptable year” does not fit the context. The Lord Jesus was going to preach for another 3 years, and the last two years of His ministry were not less acceptable to the Lord than the year before that.

So, what is this verse saying?

It says that the Lord Jesus was going to preach the Gospel to the poor and He was going to preach deliverance to the captives. This was an activity, which made that “an acceptable year of the Lord”. Likewise the following two years were also acceptable to the Lord.

Therefore, what is an acceptable year of the Lord?

It is a period of time that has to do with salvation. It is a time when the true Gospel is preached, so that God will save from among those who have come under the hearing of the Word of God, because “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God”.

That is God’s method for saving people.

Did the acceptable year of the Lord end when Christ went back to heaven?

No! Pentecost came and from that time on the Gospel was preached into the entire world.

The fact that the entire New Testament period of time is an acceptable year of the Lord is shown also in:

2 Corinthians 6:2
(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succored (helped) thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)

This is a quotation from Isaiah 49:8. The same Greek word that was translated “acceptable” in Luke 4:19 is here translated “accepted”. The context indicates that God is speaking to all the New Testament hearers of the Word of God, urging them to be witnesses. Paraphrased God says here: “I heard your prayers in an acceptable time, and when the day of your salvation came I have helped you and gave you a new soul. Now, go out as My ambassadors and bring this Gospel to others, for now is the acceptable time for them; now is still the day of salvation”.

Therefore, “an acceptable year of the Lord” is a period of time when the true Gospel is preached.

Now we turn back to Luke 4:19 and compare this with Isaiah 61:2.

Isaiah 61:2
To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;

What is that day of vengeance?

Well, it has to relate to salvation, because it must relate to “an acceptable year of the Lord”. The day of vengeance must refer to when the Lord Jesus Christ bore our sins on the cross, and God poured out His wrath upon all our sins. Now all our sins have been paid, and that is why this is a comfort to all those that mourn for their sins. This brings to mind that repentance is also a gift from God accompanying salvation. Now, let us return to Luke 4:20.

He Closed the Book (Luke 4:20, John 6:60, 1 John 5:3)

Luke 4:20
And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.

Literally, He rolled up the scroll, and gave it back to the servant, and sat down.

Why does God bother to tell us that He closed the book?

Well, it turns out to be quite important. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, closed the book and gave the closed book back to the Jews assembled in the synagogue of Nazareth. If you read down to verse 30 and look at their reaction, you realize that it was a closed book to them. Their minds were not open to the Word of God. They had made up their minds, and therefore they had no need for God to teach them something new.

Does that remind you of some people you know?

You cannot teach them what the Bible says, because their mind is made up. They know what they believe, and regardless what the Bible says, they will always come back and say: “Well, that is your opinion. Everyone is entitled to his own opinion.” Then the Bible is a closed book to them. You will find that most people object to something that is new and that touches them personally. People do not like to change what they believe, and especially they do not like it if you touch them in their personal life. For example, people will support us in upholding the sacredness of marriage. But a girl meets a boy, and then they turn around and commit fornication when we are not looking. Or a girl meets a divorced man, and she will find all kinds of reasons why his divorce was legitimate, so that he can marry her.

We read in the Bible that there are many who turn away from the truth, because the Word of God became a straitjacket to them. For example, in John 6:60 we read:

John 6:60
Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?

Then they walked away from Him.

Does God have hard sayings?

Well, if you think that the true Gospel is a straitjacket, then you may believe that God has hard sayings. But if the Lord Jesus has touched your heart, then you will say with all the saints the words of 1 John 5:3,

1 John 5:3
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

(This is the response of the saints. This has become their second nature.)

But to the Jews in Nazareth the Word of God had become a straitjacket. Then Jesus said

This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears (Luke 4:21, Hebrews 2:3)

The Lord Jesus said in verse 21,

Luke 4:21
And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.

Now, is this not a strange saying?

Why did Jesus not say: “This is fulfilled in your hearing”?

Why did He say: “This is fulfilled in your ears”?

We can understand it if we remember that “He closed the book”. The Lord Jesus spoke the words written on the scroll of Isaiah, which were the Words of God. His voice reached their ears, but they were dull of hearing. They could not understand the spiritual meaning of the Words of God. They could hear with their physical ears, but they could not hear with spiritual ears, because God had not opened their spiritual ears.

When the Lord Jesus said: “Today is this scripture fulfilled in your ears”, Jesus was referring to verses 18 and 19 which speak about “the Lord’s anointed”. Those verses spoke about the coming Messiah. But all that the Jews could only see was some physical healing that Jesus did, and these verses spoke about physical healing. These they connected. But Jesus spoke in parables, and He acted out in parables just like the prophets in the Old Testament did. They could not understand any of it.

In essence Jesus was saying: “This passage talks about salvation. The time of salvation is here. The kingdom of God is at hand. Come unto Me and be saved. Come unto Me and be healed from your dreadful disease of sin.” But they could not hear.

Those of you, who are under the hearing of my words, listen to God’s words. Do not listen like the Jews of Nazareth were listening to Him. They selected only those passages that they liked, but they were deaf to the rest of the Bible. That is deadly. Listen to all that God has to say. Listen to the whole Bible.

Do not listen to those who say that the Old Testament is just the history of the Jews.

Do not listen to those who say that all you need to do is accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior.

Do not listen to those who say that they have found Greek manuscripts that require a thorough revision of the Bible.

They are leading you astray to worship their god.

Be careful whom you worship.

The choice is not like that between a Coke and a Pepsi. There is much more at stake. God’s warning comes through loud and clear in Hebrews 2:3, which says:

Hebrews 2:3
How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;

Now we can see another symptom of the blindness of the Jews in Nazareth. They said:

Is not this Joseph’s son? (Luke 4:22, Deuteronomy 29:29, Hebrews 1:8)

Luke 4:22
And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?”

The Lord Jesus said a great deal more than is recorded for us in verse 21.

And all bare Him witness that He spoke gracious words. But His words did not touch their hearts. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of all the earth, was preaching to them. The most eloquent of all preachers was speaking to them, but His words were as water that runs off a duck’s back. Instead of seeing Him as the Messiah, they saw Him only as Joseph’s son, because their spiritual eyes were blinded.

Could God have opened their eyes?

Yes He could, but He chose not to do so. Whenever we wonder about God’s motives, we are drawn to that famous passage of Deuteronomy 29:29,

Deuteronomy 29:29
The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.

We should not be criticizing God’s actions. We are not the judges over God, but He is the Judge over us. Therefore let us come humbly and bow before Him.

The Jews said: “Is not this Joseph’s son?”

They marveled at His words, but they did not see Him as the One He claimed to be.

Do you think this is happening today also?

Indeed it is. There are many millions of people today who read the Bible, but they see Jesus only as a Son of God. They do not see that Jesus claimed to be God. They do not know that they have no Savior who could save them from their sins. To be our Savior the Lord Jesus had to be both God and man. He had to be man, because man sinned, and therefore man has to pay the penalty for each and every sin. He had to be God, because He had to endure for our sins such an enormous penalty that no human being could ever endure while in the flesh. Therefore He had to be God. And that is what the Scriptures declare. For example, we read in Hebrews 1:8,

Hebrews 1:8
But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.

This verse clearly states that Christ is eternal God Himself. Likewise there are many who believe that the Lord Jesus paid only a token of the penalty that had to be paid for our sins. In other words, they believe that the physical blood He shed was sufficient to pay for the sins of the whole world. They do not know that the Lord Jesus had not shed most of His blood when He cried out victoriously from the cross: “It is finished”. Moreover, If Christ did not pay the full price on the cross at Golgotha, then God would have been an unrighteous Judge in the Atonement process.

But all those who believe the whole counsel of God, and believe that Christ had to pay the full price for their sins, they mourn for the sins that they have committed.

Them that Mourn in Zion (Isaiah 61:3, Psalm 30:11-12)

The beginning of Isaiah 61 started with: “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek”, But this sentence is still continuing through verse 3. And there we read in Isaiah 61:3:

Isaiah 61:3
To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.

Thus we should read this verse as follows: “The LORD hath anointed me, to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning”.

In other words, “unto those that repent of their sins, which are the remnant of Zion that mourn for their sins, Christ the anointed One is appointing unto them beauty instead of ashes, and the oil of joy instead of mourning.”

Ashes are what we deserve, because of our sins we deserve to be cast into Hell. Instead Christ is giving us the beauty of eternal life with Him. This beauty is given to us entirely by grace, and not for anything that we have done. God will not share this glory with another. Anything we have done deserves ashes. Therefore, Christ appoints unto those to whom God delights to give repentance this beauty, which He purchased for us on the cross. He showed us the beauty of this salvation in the Bible, and thereby He has turned our mourning into joy. Our joy is to give thanks to God forever in this life, and in the life to come. This life of gratitude is expressed so beautifully in Psalm 30:11-12,

Psalm 30:11
Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness;

Psalm 30:12
To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee forever.

Then we read in Isaiah 61:3 about:

The garment of praise (Isaiah 61:3, Isaiah 61:10, Luke 15:22)

Isaiah 61:3
To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.

In other words, Christ says, “The LORD hath anointed me, to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, the garment of praise instead of the spirit of heaviness”. The spirit of heaviness is literally the spirit of darkness because of sin.

What is that garment of praise?

God explains that in verse 10. Even though it is a different Hebrew word, the meaning is almost the same. There in Isaiah 61:10 we read:

Isaiah 61:10
I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.

God says here that He has covered us with the robe of righteousness.

What righteousness?

It is “the righteousness of God, which is through the faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe”.

How did He clothe us?

Christ had to take all our sins upon Himself, and pay the full penalty for those sins, the equivalent of an eternity in Hell. Then He covered us with His righteousness.

The robe is the robe of the righteousness of Christ. What a glorious covering for our sins.

The Lord Jesus mentioned this covering in the parable of the prodigal son. When the prodigal son came home, we read in Luke 15:22,

Luke 15:22
But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:

What is the best robe?

The best robe is the robe of the righteousness of Christ, which was given to the prodigal son as a covering for all his sins.

Therefore, because we are robed with Christ’s righteousness, we are covered with the garments of praise. We want to praise Him all the day long.

Then we read in Isaiah 61:3 about:

The planting of the Lord (Isaiah 61:3, Isaiah 60:21, Jeremiah 17:7-8, John 15:5)

Isaiah 61:3
To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.

In other words, Christ says, “The LORD hath anointed me, to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.

Those whom Christ redeemed at the cross, were not redeemed because they took the action to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. They were redeemed because God, from eternity past, determined whom He was going to save. That is why they are called “the planting of the Lord.”

Isaiah 60:21
Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified.

Jeremiah 17:7
Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.

Jeremiah 17:8
For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.

John 15:5
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

By Alfred J. Chompff

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