Since he said to those Nazarenes, “Today this scripture that you just heard is fulfilled,” this meant that this marked “year” had already begun, that those Nazarenes were then living in it. Would they take advantage of it? Evidently not, if their soon taking him out of their synagogue and trying to kill him means anything. (Luke 4:22-30) They were not a good example for us today.
18. In what way did a remnant of faithful Jews experience the “year of goodwill on the part of Jehovah” back in 537 B.C.E.?
18 In what way, then, had the “acceptable year” or “year of goodwill” begun and when would it end? Had not Jerusalem and its temple built by Solomon been destroyed in the year 607 B.C.E., or more than a hundred years after Isaiah’s prophecy of Isaiah 61:1-3? Yes, that is true, and the city and the land of Judah had lain desolate and devastated for seventy years, until the year 537 B.C.E., when the faithful Jews who were held captive in Babylon were released and returned to the land of Judah and began to rebuild Jerusalem and its temple. And now, when Jesus was baptized and anointed, sixty-nine “weeks” of years, or 483 years, had passed since the Jewish governor, Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah, had begun to repair the walls of rebuilt Jerusalem. (Dan. 9:24-27) And so did not the restored Jews experience the “year of goodwill on the part of Jehovah” away back there at the reconstruction of Jerusalem and were not the mourners comforted at the rebuilding of the temple at the holy city? Yes, but only in a typical way.
19. (a) What was the vital thing missing back there in 537 B.C.E.? (b) Whose very presence on earth was a great evidence of Jehovah’s goodwill, and over what were the captive worshipers mourning?
19 That was indeed a period of Jehovah’s goodwill or favor and of immense comfort for mourning worshipers. But the vital thing missing was the presence of the foretold Anointed Proclaimer, the One who was authorized to point to Isaiah 61:1-3 and speak of it as being fulfilled in Him! The baptized Jesus, anointed with no mere vegetable oil but with Jehovah’s spirit, was the first one to meet the requirements of the prophecy fully and therefore the first one able to “proclaim the year of goodwill on the part of Jehovah.” What greater evidence of Jehovah’s goodwill or favor could there be at that time than the very presence on earth of the anointed Son of God, for those Jews who would receive him as the divinely promised Messiah? There was then need also of having good news preached to the meek ones, and Jesus Christ had such good news and he preached the good news of God’s kingdom. There was need to comfort the mourning worshipers, mourning, not over a desolated Jerusalem and temple, but over the broken-down state of pure worship of Jehovah. There were captives to be freed, not from ancient Babylon, but from a corrupt religious system.
20. (a) Rather than their material well-being, what was to be cared for in the fulfillment of Isaiah 61:1-3 to Jehovah’s people? (b) What was the objective of this as regards them and God?
20 The material well-being of Jesus’ own people was not the essential thing to call for the fulfillment of Isaiah 61:1-3. The things that were set out there in the commission to Jehovah’s anointed one were to be fulfilled in a spiritual way.