Luke 4 and the Year of the Lord’s Favor
The other day I was listening to another of Jonathan Martin’s fantastic sermon podcasts, and there is a small portion of what he shared that I feel will stay with me for a very long time. Pastor Jonathan was briefly discussing scripture, and how every word of it ought to point us back to Jesus. Then he started getting to how Jesus reads scripture throughout the four gospels, and what those readings say about Jesus and his authority as the Son of God. Luke 4:16-20 is the passage he zeroed in on, and in Luke he reads it like this:
“The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and release to the prisoners;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,”
Notice the comma at the end of the excerpt? In verse 20 it says Jesus finished his reading, promptly handed the scroll back to the scribe, and sat down. He finished his reading in the middle of a sentence! What is that all about? Well, when you go back to Isaiah 61 where this passage is originally found, the part of the sentence that Jesus leaves out reads: “and the day of vengeance of our God.” I find it beautiful and fascinating and redemptive that Jesus would intentionally leave that part out. Of course it doesn’t mean that God’s vengeance will not come, and that there won’t be a day when we are called to judgment for how we have lived our lives.
I’m completely speculating here, but I wonder if Jesus may have read the text that way to establish the redemptive purpose for which he came. Perhaps he wanted the people to know, “Hey, the Messiah’s here, the ‘year of the Lord’s favor’ has come upon you now after centuries of waiting.” I wonder if Jesus wanted to end with healing for hurting, freedom for those in bondage, redemption instead of wrath.
But like I said, that’s just speculation.