And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, “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, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:17-19
The far-reaching curse of Adam's original sin has become evident through the ages of time. Sin has infected every individual in every generation in all lands the world over. The question now is, how can man find his way back to God? Religion is not the answer. The religions of the world only offer people a false hope, for these religions tell people they must work their way back to God.
The Psalmist David asked, “What is man, that you are mindful of him?” (Ps. 8:4). To the employer, man is often just a hand. To the social worker he can be merely a case. To government, man is frequently only a number. To God, however, man is of infinite value. Man is of infinite value to God because man is the crown of creation. Humans are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:14) in the image of God (Gen. 1:27).
In the synagogue in Nazareth, Jesus stood up and read from the book of Isaiah (a quotation from Isaiah 61:1-2). This passage states several purposes of the Messiah's coming to earth. Jesus said He was fulfilling these purposes.
Jesus came “to preach the gospel to the poor.” Sin made everyone a poor and helpless sinner before God. The gospel of Christ is good news that God loves sinners and that salvation comes through faith in Christ's finished work at the cross (Heb. 9:26).
Jesus came “to heal the brokenhearted.” To people who are estranged from God and without hope (Eph. 2:12), the acceptance of God's saving grace is spiritually soothing. To bring “Deliverance to the captive” means there is freedom of the spirit in Christ (John 8:32, 36).
Jesus came “to set at liberty them that are oppressed.” Having inherited Adam's sin nature, everyone is oppressed by sin and the devil (2 Tim. 2:26). Only the gospel of Christ can release a repentant sinner from sin's bondage.
Jesus came “to preach the year of the Lord’s favor.” Certainly Christ proclaimed the kingdom truths, but He also emphasized God's grace. Paul said, “Now is the acceptable time, behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6.2).
Those in the synagogue in Nazareth “wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth” (Luke 4:22); yet, just a short time later, they were filled with wrath (v. 28).
In a pastoral ministry for many years, I saw firsthand the power of the gospel in the lives of people. I once saw a man who had killed another person saved. The gospel brought about a miracle in that man's life.
I saw a drunkard trust Christ as Savior. At the very next revival service, that man invited and brought forty-three people with him to church. Our people saw the gospel of Christ work a miracle in that man's life.
The call of God still goes out to people everywhere. God's call must be answered with all urgency of action. The best time to respond to the gospel is now.
The people of Jeremiah's time neglected God's call. The result was sad.
Theirs was the cry of squandered opportunity: “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved” (Jer. 8:20).
Procrastination is not only the robber of time, it is also the thief of the soul. People must be called to come to Christ now for salvation. God will turn none away empty.