International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday May 11, 2014
Purpose: To embrace the fullness of Jesus’ mission and message for today
Background Scripture: Leviticus 25:8-55; Isaiah 61:1-2;
Scripture Text: Luke 4:14-21
Luke 4:14-21 (CEB)
(14)Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news about him spread throughout the whole countryside.(15)He taught in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.(16)Jesus went to Nazareth, where he had been raised. On the Sabbath he went to the synagogue as he normally did and stood up to read. (17)The synagogue assistant gave him the scroll from the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:(18)The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me. He has sent me to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to liberate the oppressed, (19) and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. (20)He rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the synagogue assistant, and sat down. Every eye in the synagogue was fixed on him. (21)He began to explain to them, "Today, this scripture has been fulfilled just as you heard it."
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
This week’s text from Luke follows immediately after Jesus left the wilderness where he had been tempted by the devil. So the order of events in Luke is the baptism by John, the temptation, and then Jesus proclaiming to his hometown, that He is the one prophesied by Isaiah. I think this is an important series of events, all which strengthen Jesus’ resolve and bolsters him for the mission God has assigned to him.
From the proclamation “You are my Son, whom I dearly love; in you I find happiness." by the Father, to overcoming all of the wiles of the devil, and the ministry of the angels. Jesus comes away from all of this filled with the power of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus returns to the place of his childhood, and continues teaching and performing miracles throughout the area called Galilee. Galilee was not the religious capital, the area was a mix of Jews and Gentiles. Surely the religious leaders in Jerusalem would never expect anything good to come out of the Galilean city of Nazareth.
Jesus was faithful to the Law of Moses, and attend the various synagogues in the communities he visited on the Sabbath. On this particular Sabbath Jesus was in his hometown of Nazareth. Being from the area and because he was an effective teacher, he was invited to read from the scrolls housed in each synagogue. Whether by design or providence the scroll selected was from the writings of Isaiah.
To fully understand what Jesus read, you need to be aware of the Jewish “Year of the Jubilee.” When Moses came down from the mountain he delivered to the people a series of laws. One of the laws concerned a Sabbath year, this took place every seven years, when the land would be rested. It was a reminder of the creation and Gods resting on the seventh day after the creation. Another part of that law was that after seven of the Sabbath years there would be year of jubilee. This meant that every fifty years there was a year of jubilee. During that year all debts were cancelled and all of the land was restored to it original owners. This would mean that every generation would experience at least one year of jubilee.
When Jesus proclaims “the year of the Lord’s favor,” in verse 19 he is referring to the year of jubilee. Which is what each of us experience when understand who Jesus was and what he accomplished in his death and resurrection. We, like the earlier Israelites, receive and undeserved pardon from our sins and iniquities. We experience by the grace of God, all of the things that the early Israelites experienced we are set free from our bondage and our rights are restored. No matter how rich or how poor the slate is wiped clean, obviously those on the other side of the ledger were not thrilled with the “year of jubilee.”
All of this gives us a glimpse of the good news of the Gospel of Jesus. Jesus mission and ours is to spread this good news to all, both Jew and Gentile. To right wrongs, and liberate those caught in the clutches of sin and despair. Jesus came to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
What are you doing to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor in your community? Like Jesus we can only do this when we are filled with the power of the Spirit. Invite the Spirit into your life and enjoy the benefits of the Lord’s favor.