Gospel means “good news.” Jesus proclaimed the good news of God’s intervention in our troubled world.
The Role of the Holy Spirit
Before we examine Jesus’ good news message, let’s consider the emphasis that Luke placed on the role of the Holy Spirit.
— The Holy Spirit will be the agent who is active in the birth of Jesus to the Virgin Mary.
Luke 1.35 – “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God.”
— Jesus will fulfill the promises of the prophets about the Holy Spirit. The Spirit’s power will be available to everyone who is willing to follow God.
Luke 3.16 – “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
— As the One who would baptize people with the Holy Spirit, Jesus was anointed by the Spirit at his baptism.
Luke 3.22 – The Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove.
— Jesus was empowered by the Spirit and was led by him to a place of testing in the wilderness.
Luke 4.1-2 – Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.
— Jesus was FULL of the Holy Spirit before his test in the wilderness. When he passed the test, he began the ministry in Galilee in the POWER of the Spirit.
Luke 4.14 – Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country.
What is the Good News?
On today’s YouTube video Rudy Ross explains how the scrolls are read in the synagogue. Jesus didn’t turn to a favorite passage in the Bible and apply it to himself.
The passage he read was the assigned portion from the Prophet Isaiah for that day. He read,
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4.18-19)
The passage from Isaiah 61 was now coming to fruition through Jesus’ ministry.
After Jesus read the passage, he gave the scroll back to the attendant and said, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4.21).
Empowered by the Holy Spirit, Jesus said that the Spirit would empower him to bring good news to several classes of people.
— The Poor – Who are the poor? What sort of good news does Jesus have for the poor?
The poor are outsiders and believed to be distant from God’s salvation.
The poor can be uneducated, persons of low status, economically deprived, chronically ill, and racially opposed. All of these “poor” people are part of the disciples who followed Jesus.
The poor can also be spiritually impoverished, even though materially wealthy. The tax collectors who followed Jesus were wealthy, but were “poor” in a spiritual sense.
— The Captives – The demonized and physically infirm were captives to forces beyond their control. Slaves were quite common in the first century. Prisoners of war and for crime were recipients of the good news.
Possibly the greatest slavery is captivity to our intense desire to have our own way.
Jesus’ proclamation of release to the captives was good news to everyone who was bound by sin, debt, illness, demons, and more.
— The Blind – It seems that it was easier for Jesus to heal physical blindness than mental and spiritual lack of sight.
As we read through the Gospel of Luke, we will encounter many different kinds of people who resist God’s agenda. The people who suffer from spiritual blindness included Jesus’ family and disciples.
The religious and political authorities either couldn’t or refused to see God at work in Jesus.
The Gospel of Luke presents a picture of how Jesus gradually helped his family and followers to see God’s purposes through his life and teaching.
Luke also reveals how the vision of some people grew darker though their continual resistance to God.
The Year of Jubilee
Leviticus 25 recounts provision for the year of Jubilee. In the 50th year slaves were to be set free, debts were canceled, and the land was returned to its original distribution under Moses.
When Jesus proclaimed “the year of the Lord’s favor,” he was referring to the Jubilee.
No doubt, if the Jubilee were to take place it would be good news for peasants, who lived hand-to-mouth and were the victims of heavy taxes and debt.
The Jubilee would threaten the powerful, who profited from a system of inequality.
Rudy Ross points out in the YouTube video today that the Jubilee is a signpost that points in the direction of the new heaven and new earth at the end of the age. It is nothing less than a return to Eden before the fall of humanity.
Good News Today
This good news is available to everyone. When it is talked about – empowered by the Holy Spirit – and received, God’s transforming power is released.
Paul was right when he wrote, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1.16).
My hope for readers of my blog is that we will ask God to identify someone who needs to hear the good news of God’s love through us. Then, let’s ask the Spirit to lead us and empower us to introduce that person to the good news.
About This Blog
Rudy Ross and I have produced a YouTube video on this passage for people who would prefer a video presentation. Rudy adds a Jewish perspective and much more to the discussion.
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