Jesus began his ministry in his “home church.” Just after his baptism and his forty days in the wilderness, he went to visit his family in the little village of Nazareth,* and he attended a sabbath worship service in the rural community’s synagogue. The reading for the day was from the prophecy of Isaiah, 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 bring 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 those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:17-21)

That’s pretty abrupt. In fact, he stopped reading in the middle of a sentence. Isaiah’s prophecy goes on with some of the most wonderful promises in the Bible, that God will:

provide for those who mourn — to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.

that those favored by him . . .

shall be called priests of the Lord; shall be named ministers of our God; shall enjoy the wealth of the nations, shall possess a double portion; shall be clothed with the garments of salvation; covered with the robe of righteousness

and that this blessed state will be eternal:

everlasting joy shall be theirs. he will make an everlasting covenant with them.

(Phrases selected from Isaiah 61:2-10)

So why did Jesus dramatically stop there and roll up the scroll? Because this was his announcement that Isaiah’s great prophecy was being fulfilled before their very eyes. He himself was the fulfillment! From this point on, all the wonderful promises of Isaiah will be fulfilled through him.

All the buzz in Nazareth for the next few days was about him (Luke 4:22-30). And all the buzz for 2000 years since has been about him, as generation after generation of spiritual seekers have found that all of God’s astounding promises have come true in their lives by following Jesus. Maybe for YOU 2022 is your “year of the Lord’s favor” (verse 19), the year you meet Jesus and close the book on all your other frustrating attempts to find lasting meaning in your life.

— Pastor George Van Alstine

* Nazareth, the childhood home of Jesus, was then a small village, but now it’s the city with the largest Arab population in Israel.