Thoughts on Luke 4:18-19 and Isaiah 61:1-2
Elfed Godding, October 22, 2020
The Gospel is inextricably linked to justice, mercy and grace. We can see this by the way in which Jesus and the apostles proclaimed and demonstrated it. For example when Paul, Silas and their companions followed a vision to preach in Philippi, the Gospel had a phenomenal effect on each stratum of society. The converts included a rich business woman to whom the Word of God was presented, a vulnerable and exploited girl from whom a demon was cast and a jailer who was about to take his own life (Acts 16:6-40).
The best explanation for what happened is that the Kingdom of God was demonstrated and extended in the city; heaven’s justice, mercy and grace was experienced on earth. ‘Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven’, Matthew 6:10.
From his inaugural public sermon in the Synagogue in Nazareth Jesus announced his ministry using language of liberation: ‘He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners … to release the oppressed’. In other words Jesus declared the prophecy of Isaiah 61:1-2 was being fulfilled there and then in his presence.
Interestingly though, Jesus omitted the last part of the words of Isaiah ‘the day of vengeance of our God’ Isaiah 61:2. Why did he do this? Perhaps it is because while demonstrating justice, Jesus showed that ‘mercy triumphs over judgement’. See James 2:13. In Isaiah’s day, justice would come, the wicked would be judged and the righteous would be vindicated.
But as Jesus started his public preaching ministry he was charting a course that would lead him to the cross to become ‘the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the whole world’, 1 John 2:2. He was fulfilling the Missio Dei ‘Mission of God’ revealed in John 3:16 ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.’
His death and resurrection enables mercy to triumph over judgement. He faced our judgement instead. But we have to believe in him; put our faith in him and take up our cross daily to follow him, see Matthew 10:38. Is this something we have done?
Let’s take a moment to thank Jesus Christ for his death on the cross and glorious resurrection so that we can receive eternal life. Have a look at a verse from one of the most frequently sung hymns of the 1904 - 5 Welsh revival:
On the mount of crucifixion fountains opened deep and wide.
Through the flood gates of God’s mercy flowed a vast and gracious tide.
Grace and love like mighty rivers, poured incessant from above.
And heaven’s peace and perfect justice, kissed a guilty world in love.
Let’s pray the words found in Revelation 7:10-12.
And they cried out in a loud voice:
“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.”
Praise and glory
and wisdom and thanks and honor
and power and strength
be to our God for ever and ever.