The Gracious Words of the Lord”

by Steven Chan

20 April 2008

In Luke 4:16-22, it is recorded thus of the early days of Jesus our Lord: “So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:  “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted; To proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind; To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”

Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” So all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth.

The focus of the ministry of Jesus was on the poor, the brokenhearted, the captives, the blind, and the oppressed. These were those who needed help more than anyone else. Those who are rich are better able to take care of themselves. Those who are blessed with a good spirit and those who are at liberty to go about freely to carry out their everyday activities do not really need help from others.

When we turn to the same Scriptures that the Lord was reading from, i.e. Isaiah 61:1-3, we would have also read that He would “comfort and console all who mourn, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.” (Isa 61:2,3). “Beauty from ashes”, “oil of joy for mourning” and “garment of praise” are descriptive terms of how God would change their perspective and circumstances such that they would experience of the blessings of the Lord and would represent the planting of the Lord (i.e. established and cared for by Him) and thereby His Name would be glorified.

The prophet Isaiah observes that when we have been blessed in such a manner, “we will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation; He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the earth brings forth its bud, as the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.” (Isa 61:10-11).

So when we are down, depressed and even despairing of life, we should turn to the Lord as He looks kindly towards us all and would be gracious in His dealings with us. Let us rejoice in the provisions of God and His graciousness towards us all. As Jesus said, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” May we all look to God, and may we all who have been blessed by God also reach out to comfort those who are afflicted: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Cor 1:3-4)

“Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!  Oh, fear the LORD, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him. The young lions lack and suffer hunger; but those who seek the LORD shall not lack any good thing.” (Psa. 34:8-10).