Jesus was then visiting the synagogue of his hometown, Nazareth, sometime after the Passover of 30 C.E. He stood up to read. He unrolled the scroll of Isaiah’s prophecy to what is now sectioned off as chapter 61 and read at least part of what is Isa 61 verses one and two. Then he said to his audience: “Today this scripture that you just heard is fulfilled.”—Luke 4:16-21.
5, 6. (a) The Greek-writing historian Luke worded Jesus’ quotation from Isaiah to read according to what translation? (b) In the original Hebrew text, how does Isaiah 61:1-3 read?
5 Luke, the historian who recorded this incident, made Jesus’ quotation from Isaiah’s prophecy read according to the way it is set out in the Greek translation known as the Septuagint Version. But how does the prophecy read in the original Hebrew text, which was doubtless what Jesus as a Palestinian Jew read? This way:
6 “The spirit of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah is upon me, for the reason that Jehovah has anointed me to tell good news to the meek ones. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to those taken captive and the wide opening of the eyes even to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of goodwill on the part of Jehovah and the day of vengeance on the part of our God; to comfort all the mourning ones;
8. At the time for the prophecy’s fulfillment, what kinds of persons would there be, emotionally, and why would the giving of attention to them be urgent?
8 Let us take note that at the time for Isaiah’s prophecy to be fulfilled there would be “meek ones,” “brokenhearted” ones, “those taken captive,” also “prisoners” and “those mourning over Zion.” These would urgently need proper attention. The time would be ripe for this, because it was the time period called “the year of goodwill on the part of Jehovah.” The arrival of the one anointed with the “spirit of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah” would inaugurate that year of His goodwill. That symbolic “year” would be followed by “the day of vengeance on the part of our God.” This made the work of the spirit-anointed proclaimer of deliverance and liberty a very urgent one indeed.
9. What change did Jesus announce to his Nazarene audience, and how did they show themselves not “meek” enough to accept “good news”?
9 Jesus had changed his earthly occupation. Till he became 30 years old he had been a carpenter in Nazareth, Galilee. There the synagogue was in which Jesus read the significant words of Isaiah’s prophecy. This change of profession he announced to his Nazarene audience when he finished reading Isaiah 61:1, 2 and said: “Today this scripture that you just heard is fulfilled.” Then he demonstrated this fact by giving a Bible talk that his fellow countrymen thought the former carpenter incapable of giving. They had heard that Jesus had become a physician. So they wanted him to ‘cure himself’ by performing cures in his “home territory” on his own townspeople. By means of Bible illustrations Jesus explained why he would not do so. At this they became highly displeased and tried to kill him. They forcibly proved themselves to be people not “meek” enough to accept “good news.”—Luke 4:21-30.
10. On what occasion had Jesus been anointed with holy spirit?
10 Despite such treatment at his hometown, Jesus went right ahead with carrying out the purpose of his being anointed with “the spirit of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah.” In the autumn of 29 C.E., he had left Nazareth and gone to the Jordan River to be baptized by John the son of Zechariah the priest. Immediately after Jesus came up out of the baptismal waters John the Baptizer saw the holy spirit descending upon him under manifestation of a dove. At the same time he heard Jehovah’s voice from heaven say: “This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved.” (Matt. 3:13-17; Luke 3:21, 22; John 1:29-34) That same spirit impelled Jesus to retire into the wilderness of Judea for 40 days.
11. Why did Jesus still have the spirit of anointing when he gave his talk in the synagogue at Nazareth?
11 After those 40 days of fasting and communing with his Father Jehovah, Satan the Devil set before him three temptations. If Jesus had succumbed to those temptations, he would have lost the spirit of anointing. But, by resisting the Tempter, he retained the spiritual anointing. So he still had it when he gave his talk in the synagogue of Nazareth.—Matt. 4:1-13; Luke 4:1-21.
12. In view of what took place in the land of the Jews since 537 B.C.E., what questions arise about the Jews at the time of Jesus’ anointing?
12 The anointing of Jesus with holy spirit in 29 C.E. occurred 565 years after Jesus’ people had been released from Babylonian captivity in 537 B.C.E. and had returned to their devastated homeland, the province of Judah. They had ‘made anew the devastated cities’ of the land, including Jerusalem, the temple of which they rebuilt. They had ‘raised up the desolated places’ of the former 70 years of their lying waste and had converted the land into somewhat of a paradise. At the three annual feasts of the Jews Zion, or Jerusalem, would teem with millions of worshipers. Why, then, when Jesus was anointed, should there be any brokenhearted Jews or Israelites? Why any “taken captive”? Why any “prisoners”? Why any “mourning over Zion”? Why any poor, humble, “meek” needing “good news”? Why any of such kind in 29 C.E.?
THOSE NEEDING “GOOD NEWS,” LIBERATION AND COMFORT
13. After the Jewish “prisoners” were released from Babylon and returned home, into which kind of bondage did they come?
13 It was because of the spiritual state into which the nation of Israel had come. True, Jehovah had executed a “day of vengeance” on the Babylonian Empire, whose rulers had refused to ‘open the way homeward to the prisoners.’ (Isa. 14:17; Jer. 50:15, 28; 51:6, 11, 36) When restored thereafter to their homeland those Jewish “prisoners” did not come into bondage to idolatry with literal graven images. Yet they came into a greater bondage, that to the religious system of Judaism. This was a system dominated by precepts and traditions of men, things that made invalid the Law and the commandments of Jehovah God. The official scribes and Pharisees became prominent in this religious system. They blinded the people to the truth by taking away “the key of knowledge,” hindering them from entering into the kingdom of God, and binding heavy loads on the common people that they themselves would not touch.—Luke 11:52.
14. In Jesus’ day, why was there reason for a remnant of the Jews to be “mourning over Zion”?
14 Moreover, those leaders in Judaism, like blind guides, led the blinded Jews in the way that ends up in the ditch of national destruction. They maneuvered Zion, or Jerusalem, into rejecting the real Messiah, Jesus, and having him put to death on a stake as if he were a false Christ. Those religious leaders kept Jerusalem on the path of being a killer of prophets and a stoner of those whom her God sent. (Matt. 23:1-37) So, did the “meek” ones of such a nation need to have “good news” told to them? Were those “taken captive” needing to have liberty proclaimed to them? Were there “prisoners” that needed to have a “wide opening of the eyes” by being brought out of the dungeon of religious darkness? Was Zion, or Jerusalem, as the center of Jehovah’s worship in such a religiously devastated state that there was real cause for mourning over her? Yes, indeed! And the anointed Jesus saw that there was then a remnant of such “mourning ones” among the Jews.
15. In what way did John the Baptizer serve as a pioneer, and how did Jesus become a pioneer of life and salvation?
15 Jesus met the needs of those mourners, those “taken captive,” those “prisoners,” those poor “meek” ones. He comforted those mourners by preaching the good news of “the kingdom of the heavens,” besides curing the sick and even raising the dead. (Matt. 4:17; 11:4-6) But still greater comfort and liberty were ahead for those mourners over Zion. This came by Jesus’ death and resurrection and his ascension into heaven to present the value of his sin-atoning sacrifice to God. By thus fulfilling the Bible prophecies concerning him, Jesus Christ became a pioneer of life and salvation for those who accepted his life-giving ministry.
According to the prophecy of Isaiah 61:1-3, the anointed Jesus was to “assign” to them “a headdress instead of ashes, the oil of exultation instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of the downhearted spirit.” Because of this they would experience a spiritual growth so that they would be called “big trees of righteousness, the planting of Jehovah, for him to be beautified.”
22. In Isaiah’s prophecy, how were the words “headdress,” “ashes,” “oil,” and “mantle” to be understood, and how did they fit the disciples from Pentecost forward?
22 Whether any of Jesus’ apostles or disciples had put ashes on their heads and had worn sackcloth we are not told. Evidently the prophetic expressions “headdress,” “ashes,” “oil,” and “mantle” were meant figuratively. Jesus’ resurrection appearances did indeed reverse the disciples’ feelings on the matter. Ah, yes, but on the day of Pentecost that followed, the Sovereign Lord Jehovah used his Son Jesus Christ to pour holy spirit upon the waiting disciples in Jerusalem. In manifestation of the outpoured spirit, miraculous flames of fire hovered above their heads. This manifestation was only temporary, and was not the permanent “headdress” foretold in Isaiah’s prophecy. Rather, their heads were crowned with the joy of divine approval, like the joy of a priest bridegroom on a wedding day. (Isa. 61:10) It was as if a soothing oil had been poured on their heads, refreshing them to the point of exultation. Gone was the downhearted spirit, and the praises of Jehovah God identified them as with a “mantle of praise.” Observers of that Pentecostal spectacle said: “We hear them speaking in our tongues about the magnificent things of God.”—Acts 2:1-11.
2. Why did Jesus and his apostles not engage in an environmental rehabilitation of the land of Palestine?
2 Back there the public ministry of Jesus Christ and his apostles did not bring about the environmental restoration of the land of Palestine in which they preached the good news of God’s kingdom. To work for such a thing would have been in vain, for the anointed Jesus taught his apostles that “the day of vengeance on the part of our God” was to come upon the Jews, which did come in 70-73 C.E. by means of the Roman legions, and reduce the province of Judea to a devastated condition. The fortress of Masada by the Dead Sea was the last Judean stronghold to fall to the Romans.