“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.”
In Luke, we are told that Jesus returned to Galilee in “the power of the Spirit,” teaching in synagogues and performing great miracles of healing everywhere he went, until he reached his hometown of Nazareth. When it came time for the Sabbath, Jesus went to his local synagogue as usual, but on this particular Sabbath he was also given an opportunity to teach. He started out his sermon by standing up to read a brief selection from the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 61:1-2) and then sat back down, declaring, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Today’s focus will be on the opening statement from that portion in Isaiah, which Jesus had just unambiguously declared as a reference to himself, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.”
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me…” – Jesus, who was God in the flesh, was empowered by God the Holy Spirit. In the book of Luke we are told that when Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit descended upon him “in bodily form like a dove” (Luke 3:22) and that after his baptism, Jesus was “full of the Holy Spirit” (Luke 4:1). This is an example of the inexplicable mystery known to us as “the doctrine of the Trinity:” God as three Persons in one being.
“But,” you may ask, “how could Jesus, who was already God in the flesh, be filled by God the Holy Spirit?” Unfortunately, we cannot provide a satisfactory answer for that question! There are some things about God that we are just incapable of fully apprehending with our carnal minds. But we can take heart in the assurance that all of these questions will be answered once we are with him face-to-face. Then we will know him completely, even as he completely knows us. (1 Corinthians 13:12)
“Because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.” – The phrase “to proclaim good news” appears in the Greek as one word, “euaggelizó,” meaning “to announce good news,” and is derived from the same term from which we get the word, “gospel.”
This “good news” is the very same as that which was announced by an angel to those shepherds who were keeping watch over their sheep on the night Jesus was born (Luke 2:10). It is the same good news proclaimed by the John the Baptist in the wilderness (Luke 3:18), the same good news preached by the apostles after Pentecost (Acts 5:42), and the same good news that we proclaim today. This is The Gospel – it is, and always will be, “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” (Romans 1:16) In these times when all we ever seem to hear is bad news, followed by more bad news, how marvelous to know we still have a message of good news to share with the world!