The gospel is an “accept or reject” proposition. It’s either completely true or categorically false. Jesus makes sure of this.
After Jesus’s temptation in the wilderness, He began ministering in and around Galilee. People did not realize it, but the Messiah was in their midst. They caught glimpses of it through events like those we see here in Luke 4. He spoke like a man with an uncommon grasp of God’s law. He cast out demons with authority. He cared for the indigent and afflicted, miraculously healing them.
Though those in positions of religious authority could not explain where Jesus got the power and wisdom to do and teach as He does, they were very reluctant to accept what He says so plainly in this chapter—that He is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy:
The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me
to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to set free the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor (Luke 4:18–19).
Can you picture the scene—Jesus reading these words, carefully rolling up the scroll, allowing for a nice dramatic pause, and then saying in reference to Himself, “Today as you listen, this Scripture has been fulfilled” (Luke 4:21). Why do you think people had such a difficult time believing Him? Clearly He wasn’t simply talking big. People were beginning to observe His wisdom and power. And the miracles too.
I see two kinds of people in this chapter: people who are trying to hold things together, and people who are so desperate for help they’re willing to risk having their assumptions challenged. What was happening then continues today. Jesus makes claims, does things, and has events attributed to Him—most notably, His own resurrection from the dead—that require us to either dismiss Him or become open to the possibility that He is who the angel told the shepherds He would be in chapter 2: the Savior who is Christ the Lord.
The message of the angels is coming into sharper focus here in chapter 4. Captives are being set free. The blind are recovering their sight. And the good news of the possibility of this sort of restoration is spreading.
Throughout the rest of Luke’s Gospel, people will struggle to believe in Jesus. The struggle continues to this day for many. Perhaps it does for you. If so, ask the Lord to open your heart to the possibility of believing what you never imagined possible—that Jesus Christ heals the blind, frees the captives and oppressed, and ushers in a new kingdom, over which He will rule forever, world without end. He either will or He won’t.
He says He will.
Written by Russ Ramsey