The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted…
Every Christian would wish to know what were the first words spoken by Jesus as a preacher of good tidings. Two of the evangelists seem to gratify this natural curiosity. According to Matthew the Beatitudes were the inaugural utterances of the Galilean gospel; according to the third evangelist, not the sermon on the mount, but the sermon in the synagogue of Nazareth. There is reason to believe that neither of the sermons occupied the place of an inaugural discourse. Luke himself knows of things previously done, and we may assume said also, in Capernaum (ver. 23). Why then does he introduce this scene at so early a place in the narrative? He has selected it to be the frontispiece of his Gospel, showing by sample the salient features of its contents. Probable that for St. Luke's own mind the emblematic significance of the scene lay chiefly in these two features: the gracious character of Christ's discourse, and the indication in the close of the universal destination of the gospel. These were things sure to interest the Pauline evangelist. It is a worthy frontispiece, in respect both of the grace and of the universality of the gospel.
1. In the first place the text of Christ's discourse was a most gracious one; none more so could have been found within the range of Old Testament prophecy. Made more gracious than in the original by the omission of the reference to the day of vengeance, and by the addition of a clause to make the Messiah's blessed work as many-sided and complete as possible.
2. If Christ's text was full of grace, His sermon appears to have been not less so. That this was so the evangelist indicates when he makes use of the phrase "words of grace" to denote its general character. That phrase, indeed, he reckoned the fittest to characterize Christ's whole teaching as recorded in his Gospel, and on that very account it is that he introduces it here.
3. In respect of the universal destination of the gospel, the scene is also sufficiently significant. The attempt on the life of Jesus foreshadows the tragic event through which the Prophet of Nazareth hoped to draw to Himself the expectant eyes of all men. The departure of Jesus from His own town is a portent of Christianity leaving the sacred soil of Judea, and setting forth into the wide world in quest of a new home.
4. The two features most prominent in this frontispiece are just the salient characteristics of the Christian era. It is the era of grace, and of grace free to all mankind. And on these accounts it is the acceptable year of the Lord. It is acceptable to God. It should be acceptable to us.
(A. B. Bruce, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath 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,
WEB: "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim release to the captives, recovering of sight to the blind, to deliver those who are crushed,