One day Jesus entered Nazareth, the town where He grew up. The Gospel of Luke says: “The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. Unrolling it, He found the place where it is written:
‘ The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’
He rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began to tell them, ‘Today, this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’ ”
Jesus lays His hand this 61st chapter of Isaiah, and calmly tells them: “This is Mine. Isaiah was talking about Me. I have fulfilled this. I am the Servant Messiah, the Anointed One, the Christ who preaches good news to the poor, proclaims freedom for the captives and recovery of sight for the blind, who sets free the oppressed and proclaims the year of the Lord’s favor.
It’s safe to say that every shepherd and shopkeeper in the synagogue of Nazareth that day knew this text from Isaiah. They knew it spoke of the coming Savior and what He would do. And they knew what Jesus was saying about Himself when He quietly said: “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” The words sound beautiful to us too. They are words about One who gives people a chance to start over, to get back what they lost, to be set free from bondage to sin.
The 25th chapter of Leviticus is the source of Isaiah’s “year of the Lord’s favor” and its fulfillment in Christ. The year of the Lord’s favor is another name for the year of jubilee proclaimed by Moses.
When the trumpet sounded every 50th year, indentured slaves were to go free. Debts were to be cancelled. Fields were to lie unused for a year in simple trust in God. It was a radical rule unheard of among the nations and it surely sounds strange to our modern ears. Grace is like that.
Imagine being someone on the receiving end of this year of jubilee, this year of the Lord’s favor, this year of grace! What if you were one of the poor and brokenhearted? What if you were cooped up in captivity, imprisoned, bound in servitude? What if you were so far in debt you figured you could never get out? What if you didn’t have a place to live, but now you got your grandpa’s house and farm back? Think of how you would feel when the trumpet of jubilee sounded every 50th year, when no matter what, no matter who you were, you got a chance to start all over again. In or outside of prison walls, all of us were locked up in sin’s dungeon. Christ has set us free. “The prisoner leaps, unloosed his chains!” In Christ, we get a fresh start!