17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
The passage from Isaiah was looked upon as a direct reference to what the Messiah would do. Jesus shocks the crowd in the synagogue by reading it and proclaiming that after all these centuries those words have come to pass. The most shocking part was that the audience was the people of Nazareth, the town he grew up in. They thought it would be a great day. Jesus was gaining in popularity so as he comes home they invite him to read the scripture for the day and speak.
In the providence of God the scripture for the day os this passage from Isaiah and it gives Jesus the opportunity to publicly announce that the Messiah has come. It also give him the opportunity to define the Gospel message that he is bringing. It is good news for people who have been down trodden and oppressed and enslaved. In some cases it is physical oppression and enslavement but for everyone it is a spiritual enslavement that he comes to break.
That raises the question of what our message is. Do people outside the Christian faith hear a message of freedom from you or is it a message of duty and religion and a different kind of enslavement? The Gospel is meant to bring freedom from all that weights us down and bring life that is abundant. Far too often the impression Christians give us that following Jesus is a burden. Jesus wants you to be free from your manmade religion and rules and live in the light of the Gospel message of freedom in Christ and a new life that is one of joy and celebration.