Monday, May 14, 2018

The Messiah

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18–19 [Isaiah 61:1–2]).

Jesus had been preaching all over Galilee, and “news about him spread through the whole countryside” (Luke 4:14). He had become a rabbi, a teacher with followers, and “he taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him” (v. 15). On one occasion He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. He was given a lesson from Isaiah and invited to preach from it.

Everyone stood up while the passage from Isaiah was read, out of respect for God’s Word. Then everyone sat down, and Jesus sat in the throne of the teacher, and began to teach. His electrifying opening sentence was: “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (v. 21). What did this mean? Jesus was claiming that He was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me”—that is what would mark the Messiah. The Hebrew word meshiach is translated in Greek by the word christos, and these two words come into English as Messiah and Christ. These words mean “anointed one.” The word messiah was used in the Old Testament for any person who was set apart by anointing with oil to serve as a king or priest, and also for persons set apart by the Spirit of God to serve as prophets.

The Jews understood that someday there would come a man who would not simply be one more “messiah,” but who would be “The Messiah.” This one would be ultimately and uniquely anointed by the Holy Spirit. He would be the ultimate prophet, priest, and king, and He would save His people. He would bring in “the year of the Lord’s favor,” which means the time of the age of the Messiah, the new age of the kingdom of God.

Jesus probably spoke more than just this one sentence, since the congregation was “amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips” (v. 22). But the heart of His message was clear: the Anointed Prophet Priest King has come, and the kingdom has begun.

Read over the characteristics of God’s anointed one in Isaiah 61:1–3. Make a list of these and meditate on what they mean practically in your life and in your church. How does the Messiah accomplish His desires through His church and through you?