The Holy Spirit and Jesus’ Calling

KEY VERSE: “The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, because he bath anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the LORD.” —Luke 4:18,19

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Luke 3:15-17, 21, 22; 4:16-19

JESUS had agreed to do all that had been written of him “in the volume of the Book.” (Ps. 40:7,8) At his baptism the Holy Spirit came upon him, anointing him to be the Messiah, the Christ. This anointing was authorization for him to begin his ministry of the Gospel, including those good tidings which he found in the prophecy of the sixty-first chapter of Isaiah, and quoted on this occasion.

After his baptism, and after his temptation in the wilderness, Jesus “returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about.” (Luke 4:14) Then he went to Nazareth, his home city, and on the sabbath day he went into the synagogue, and it was there that he read the outline of his commission from the prophecy of Isaiah, saying to his hearers, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.”—vs. 21

There are various aspects of the Holy Spirit’s commission to proclaim the Gospel. First, the Gospel is to be preached to the “poor.” In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for their’s is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5:3) The very wealthy may be “poor in spirit” in the sense of realizing their great need of God, whereas a pauper might be very proud of heart and have no hearing ear for the Gospel. Jesus was commissioned to proclaim the Gospel to the poor in spirit, those who were hungering and thirsting after righteousness.

Jesus was also commissioned to “heal the brokenhearted.” Jesus said, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28) The truth of the Gospel is a powerful healing agency for those who are weary aid sad because of the evils with which they are surrounded. It is ‘the power of God unto salvation.”—Rom. 1:16

Jesus was commissioned to “preach deliverance to the captives.” Isaiah’s account reads, “To proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.” (Isa. 61:1) Jesus quoted this as “bruised,” [Greek, ‘crushed’] as in death. This does not refer to captives and prisoners in the ordinary sense. The reference here, rather, is to those held captive in the great prison-house of death. The Gospel is a proclamation of liberty for all who are in the grave. Jesus said that all these would hear his voice and come forth. The fact of the resurrection is a very vital aspect of the Gospel, and the Holy Spirit commissioned Jesus to give assurance to all who would hear that the prisoners of death would be released. And that commission carries through to the kingdom time, when Jesus, as the resurrection and the life, will actually call the dead from death.

The anointing or commission of the Holy Spirit included proclaiming the “acceptable year of the Lord.” This is a reference to the special work of God during the Gospel Age; that is, the calling and preparation of those who are to live and reign with Christ in his kingdom. These are invited to lay down their lives in sacrifice, and assured that their sacrifice is made acceptable to God through Christ. The age in which this work of sacrifice is being accomplished is therefore called the acceptable year, or time, in the divine plan.

This same anointing of the Holy Spirit is upon the followers of Jesus, because they are members of his mystical body. We, too, are commissioned to proclaim every aspect of the Gospel, including the acceptable year of the Lord.

There is one feature of the divine commission for service mentioned in the original list, as given by Isaiah, which Jesus did not apply to himself; that is, to declare “the day of vengeance of our God.” (Isa. 61:2) This day of vengeance was not due until the close of the Gospel Age, the present distress of nations with perplexity. It is our privilege now to proclaim this truth.

While Jesus walked on this earth, not many received his ministry, but he nevertheless delighted in proclaiming these with all who have come under his anointing. God’s precious promises of salvation are like a burning fire shut in our bones, and we cannot stay, even though few there be that hear.—Jer. 20:9

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