26: Isaiah's Prophecy Fulfilled
While Jesus was in Galilee, He also went to Nazareth, where He had been raised. All the people there knew Him. They saw Him walking through the streets again, just as He used to do. On the sabbath, He joined them in the synagogue, the building where the people came together to praise God and be instructed by the scribes. It was as if nothing had changed.
Some amazing rumors circulated in Nazareth about great things that Jesus had done in other places. "Who would ever have thought such things of this carpenter?" the people asked.
Yes, Mary's son must be someone special. The people of Nazareth agreed on that, and they were proud to say that Jesus came from their town. Some people even claimed that Jesus was the Messiah.
A carpenter's son was the Messiah? No, that was impossible. The Messiah could not be someone who had lived among them, and had worked like any other person. The Messiah would have to be someone much greater than an ordinary man. They would soon know if He were capable of doing miracles. If He had performed miracles in other places, why not in His own hometown?
He sat among them in the synagogue, humble and still, just as He had sat every sabbath day for years. When it was time to read from the prophets, Jesus stood up and took the scroll from the hand of the servant. He opened the scroll, stood before the lectern, and began looking for the passage to be read. It was deathly still in the synagogue.
Jesus had the book of the prophet Isaiah in His hands. He read, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, for He has anointed Me to bring the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and sight to the blind, to release those who are oppressed and to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
Those were beautiful words, and the people understood them. Isaiah was talking about the glorious time that would come when the Messiah appeared. The Messiah would bring the joyful gospel of God's love to the poor and the humble.
The oppressed, those who were unhappy, would then be happy. The Messiah would release all who were held in the grip of sin. That year of the Lord's favor, that glorious year of Jubilee—how long would the people have to wait for it?
Jesus had given the scroll back to the servant. He sat down to speak. That was the custom in the synagogue; one stood up to read the Word of God aloud and sat down to address the congregation.
All eyes were focused on Jesus. The people were curious. What would He say about this passage that spoke of the Messiah?
The people listened intensely. They were amazed. Never before had they heard anyone speak so simply and beautifully about God's Word.
Where had the carpenter learned that? He spoke about Isaiah's prophecy with great conviction and certainty, almost as if He knew better than Isaiah what the prophecy was about.
Listen! What was He saying now?
"Today this prophecy from Scripture that you just heard has been fulfilled."
What was that supposed to mean? Was it now suddenly the year of the Lord? Had the Messiah come? But who, then, was the Messiah? Was it Jesus, the son of Joseph?