Luke 4:18–19 / ““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, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” ”
Why did God, robe Himself in human flesh, come to this earth and be born of a virgin nearly 2,000 years ago? It almost seems incredulous doesn’t it? If it weren’t the absolute testimony of Scripture, one would be tempted to dismiss it out of hand. For some it smacks of myth and fairy tale. It is a truly amazing, supernatural wonder. To our unsaved friends and neighbors, the account can sound an awful lot like stories of alien abductions and extra-terrestrial visitations.
Throughout history, there have been no end to the speculations in trying to answer this “why?” question. Theories, guesses and assertions abound. Seldom, it seems, do we simply go back to the Bible itself to see if there are concrete statements aimed specifically at answering this question. Yet the Bible is replete with them. The Holy Spirit was not in the dark in this regard, nor has He neglected to inform us very fully on the matter.
As many statements as are made in the Scripture in this regard, this year, we are focusing on a number of those statements made by Jesus Himself. In this, we get His own self-understanding of His incarnation. In examining these we hear His voice telling us in His terms how He understood Himself and His mission. It is well worth our time.
I might add, we will only be looking at explicit statements of purpose – and not the myriad of complementary statements which we could use to round out the fullness of all that He said and did.
Looking at Jesus’ life and ministry chronologically, the very first place He explicitly tells us why He came, is found our text above – Luke 4:18-19. Just after returning from His temptations in the wilderness, “And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. ” (Luke 4:16, ESV) The passage He chose to read, was a familiarly Messianic portion from Isaiah 61. It was a bombshell. Not because the passage had never been read and preached on in the Synagogue before – it was a popular passage. But for the first time ever – the One who read it “rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down….And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” ” (Luke 4:20–21, ESV)
Can you imagine if you had been there that morning? One would either simply be in shock due to simple amazement, wondering what in the world that could mean – or perhaps filled with horror that someone would have such audacity – that they would speak so blasphemously. If the Speaker we accurate, it would mean the Messiah had arrived. If not, it would mean He was an impostor and worthy of death. There could be no in-between for them. Nor can there be for us now.
But to the point – what did He declare His purpose for coming to be in this place?
a. To proclaim – liberty to the captives. “Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. ” (John 8:34, ESV) He was announcing freedom to such captives – Captives in and because of – sin.
b. To proclaim – recovering of sight to the blind. He was announcing “light” coming into the world. Restoration to know the Truth in reversing Satan’s lies.
c. To actually – set at liberty those who are oppressed – to DO it! That He Himself would accomplish this setting people free.
i..e d. to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. – GRACE! God’s favor had come. And it had come in the form of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
THIS – is the beginning of the Christmas story. This is why he has come.