“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim Good News to the lost,” says Christ triumphantly as he stands in the temple, in the amazed gaze of congregants. Jesus rolls up the scroll with every eye fastened on him. They wrestle with the meaning as He further declares, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (See Luke 4.)
We remember this moment from the gospels as Jesus boldly declaring Himself to be the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah 61.
Except that’s not what he said.
He says, “The LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.”
We must pay attention to His every word. To be a follower of Christ means to follow in His footsteps and value what He valued.
The Sovereign Lord could have arranged for any number of Messianic Scriptures to accompany the self-declaration of Jesus in the synagogue. There were nearly countless options. Even conservative estimations place the number of Old Testament prophecies Jesus fulfilled at around 300, although some Bible scholars place the number in the 400 to 600 range. (See gotquestions.org)
Here’s a short sampling.
- He could have described Israel’s sins being made white as snow (Isaiah 1).
- He could have identified Himself as the suffering servant who would bring healing to many (Isaiah 53).
- He could have pulled from the book of Psalms and identified Himself as the Son who receives the inheritance of the nations (Psalm 2).
- He could have identified Himself as David’s Lord (Psalm 110).
Jesus’ initial public announcement, however, took a different form. He chose identify as the one he was anointed to proclaim Good News to the poor.
Does that seem puzzling to anyone else?
It does to me, especially since most of the churches and ministries with which I have been involved seem to approach it as a mere afterthought.
If I was picking up a Bible for the first time, I would read this verse and come to the conclusion that the poor were far from an afterthought in the kingdom of Jesus. Rather, ministering to the poor seems to be central to Christ’s message.
I’ll unpack what that has meant for my life in the next post.