In Luke 4, Jesus visits the synagogue. According to tradition, a man in the congregation would read Scripture and then explain it. So it came as no surprise when Jesus took out a scroll and read from Isaiah 61. The surprise came after he read from the scroll. Luke 4:17-21 records it this way:
“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, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’ 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. And he began to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’”
Did you catch what He said? He proclaimed himself as the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy! He was claiming to be the Messiah! What a shock this was to the crowd at the synagogue that day!
But don’t let the shock of the moment keep you from missing the content of Jesus’ message. He was explaining why He had come. Among the list he presents, two items stick out to me:
1) “to proclaim good news to the poor”
2) to set at liberty those who are oppressed”
The good news of the gospel overflowed in the way Jesus treated the downtrodden. Unfortunately, many churches either emphasize devotion to the gospel or rally toward social action. But the two do not have to be separated.
In fact, shouldn’t a true understanding of the gospel drive us to social action? Shouldn’t loving God with “all our heart, mind, and soul” cause us to “love our neighbor as ourselves?” (Matthew 22:36-40).
If the gospel doesn’t change the way we treat the poor and oppressed, I’m not sure we’ve got the gospel.
In verse 18, Jesus explains that the “Spirit of God is upon him,” anointing Him to do this work. Has it ever occurred to you that when Jesus left the earth, the Holy Spirit came to continue His work? And when you receive the Holy Spirit at salvation, He intends to continue the same work through you.
That means the Holy Spirit has been given for two reasons:
to know the gospel (devotion), and to live the gospel (social action).
Shocking? It shouldn’t be . . . the Spirit of God is upon you.