“Today This Happened” Jubilee #1 (Luke 4:14-30)
14 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country. 15 And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all. 16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 18 “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, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.” 20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:19-21)
Can you picture God as a restless God? Our God has been a restless God ever since He ushered Adam and Eve out of Eden and locked the door behind them. His energy beginning day one wasn’t to build the wall and door higher and stronger to keep us out of paradise forever; no, all His work has always been to make a way for us to come back in.
Our way back to God has never been and will never be of our making. It is He who makes the way! We sing a song that says “God will make a way when there seems to be no way.” Once, when His disciples were shocked to hear it is nigh to impossible for rich people to enter the kingdom, He told them, “With man, this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26, Mk 10, Lk 18).
Over the summer… in lessons scattered here and there, I want to preach sermons about “Jubilee.” Our English word “jubilee” means “a special anniversary of an event, especially one celebrating twenty-five or fifty years of a reign or activity.” The Bible’s word is yoval – meaning “trumpet blast of liberty” (actually shofar – ram’s horn trumpet). The Old Testament’s “year of Jubilee” is every 50th year, 7 cycles of “Sabbaths” (or 7th years) ending with the 49th year, then the 50th year would be “Jubilee,” a doubling of Sabbath years with celebrations and certain legal and real estate adjustments aimed at restoring the rights of the poor in the land.
Let’s go to Leviticus 25:8-13 to read what God said to the people through Moses:
8 “You shall count seven weeks of years, seven times seven years, so that the time of the seven weeks of years shall give you forty-nine years. 9 Then you shall sound the loud trumpet on the tenth day of the seventh month. On the Day of Atonement you shall sound the trumpet throughout all your land. 10 And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his clan. 11 That fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; in it you shall neither sow nor reap what grows of itself nor gather the grapes from the undressed vines. 12 For it is a jubilee. It shall be holy to you. You may eat the produce of the field. 13 “In this year of jubilee each of you shall return to his property. (Leviticus 25:8-13).
We see land going back to original owners, slaves and prisoners freed, loans and debts forgiven, and God’s mercy plainly in view for all to see.
Jews haven’t complied with regulations for Jubilee for 2,700 years, stopping long before Jesus lived. Their explanation is that according to Torah, observance occurs only when the Jewish people live in the land according to their tribes. So with the exile of the northern tribes (722 BCE), Jubilee has not been applicable.
Obviously, God gave this Jubilee decree specifically to descendants of Jacob, the Jews, the 12 tribes living in their “promised land.” So if Jubilee is for the Jews, why should I preach about it? The answer is that it’s a highly relevant topic for us since it is a “type” – a “first version” – of something to come later that would be far higher and better and fuller of blessings for God’s people, something OT brought over to the kingdom age and great spiritual importance.
Another answer would be because Jesus is jubilee! He was always focused on it! Because the gospels do! So as I preach about it I’ll try to show Jubilee isn’t just an old term, but rather good news for everyone, today! Really, we’ve all preached it to each other around here all the time with our songs. Here’s one:
"Days Of Elijah"
These are the days of Elijah / Declaring the word of the Lord, yeah
And these are the days of Your servant, Moses / Righteousness being restored
And though these are the days of great trials / Of famine and darkness and sword
Still we are the voice in the desert crying / Prepare ye the way of the Lord!
Behold He comes, riding on the clouds / Shining like the sun, at the trumpet's call
Lift your voice, it's the year of Jubilee / Out of Zion's hill, salvation comes
And these are the days of Ezekiel / The dry bones becoming as flesh
And these are the days of Your servant, David / Rebuilding the temple of praise
And these are the days of the harvest / The fields are all white in the world
And we are the laborers that are in Your vineyard / Declaring the Word of the Lord
Behold He comes, riding on the clouds / Shining like the sun, at the trumpet's call Lift your voice, it's the year of Jubilee / Out of Zion's hill, salvation comes
If you’ve read the words of Jesus (and you have), you’ve read about jubilee, maybe without realizing it was His focus – it was good news then and it’s better news now if we understand all the blessings it holds for us.
OK, just a couple of “teasers” for some coming lessons and I’m done…
Our reading today was about Jesus announcing that He was the fulfillment of a prophecy Isaiah made about Jubilee: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor, …sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners, ...recovery of sight for the blind, …release the oppressed, …proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Jesus was telling them that Jubilee – the day of reversal and renewal God planned – had arrived among the children of Israel (and us all) that day in Nazareth, as His public ministry began (see Luke 3:23). Luke leads up to it telling us (1) that “Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years old,…” (3:23), (2) giving His family credentials (3:24ff.), (3) presenting His victory over Satan in His temptation (4:1ff), and (4) His returning to Galilee “in the power of the Spirit, and a report [going out] about him went out through all the surrounding country.” (4:14).
Remember Zacchaeus? When Jesus got him down from the tree and went to his house to eat that day in Jericho, here is the way things ended: “Look, Lord, Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor. And if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount” (Luke 19:8-9). Zacchaeus is a real conversion story!
What about our conversions?