14 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. 15 He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. 17 The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: 18 “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 proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, 21 and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Then Jesus did some teaching and interacting with those gathered there. Look at verse 28:
28 All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. 29 They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff. 30 But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.
This passage is just another great confirmation to me that Jesus was and is absolutely the Son of God, sent by God, to accomplish the Father’s mission. How else could someone explain why after two back to back episodes where right out of the shoot as His ministry was just getting started, people were trying to kill Jesus, and He continued on His mission? Just a few verses up in our passage from last week, Satan tried to get Jesus to throw Himself off the pinnacle of the temple. Verse 29 of today’s passage says people were trying to get Him to the edge of a cliff so they could push Him off. And yet we read in verse 30 that Jesus walked right through the crowd and went on his way.
You’ve seen the espionage movies where the main character is great at slipping out of a window, slipping through a crowd, and evading those pursuing him to kill Him. In those movies there always seems to be a clever way out. As I read verse 30 it seems to me that there was a force, a power, a presence working with Jesus and for Jesus that enabled Him to supernaturally escape those premature death experiences. That force, that power, that presence was the Holy Spirit. Remember one promise of God is that God will always provide a way of escape (I Cor. 10:13). The Holy Spirit will protect us and help us escape any attempt to thwart God’s will and plans.
In addition to the protection the Holy Spirit will give us, I want to suggest three things about the role of the Spirit in our lives from this passage:
1. The Holy Spirit sustains us. Look again at verse 14: “Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit.” Jesus had just taken Satan on three times and had fasted for forty days and nights. You would think He would need a week off for rest and refreshing before He headed back to Galilee and started teaching. But, no, right after that exhausting and draining desert experience He came back home ready to jump in and get started. How in the world could He be up for anything let alone the beginning of this public, busy, and controversial ministry?
Verse 14 is clear. He was operating not in His own strength, but in the Holy Spirit’s power. The Spirit had led Him into the desert. Look at Luke 4:1. What does that tell you and me? The Spirit of God will never lead you where the Spirit of God won’t keep you. The Holy Spirit took Jesus into the desert, and the Holy Spirit brought Him out of the desert.
Listen to 2 Corinthians 4:7-9 7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
Our bodies are the jars of clay here. The treasure is the Spirit of God. What the last two verses of this passage tell me is that God may lead us right to the edge of a cliff, but He will provide a way out. We might be squeezed, but He will make room for us to get through that which presses in on us. We might be perplexed about a problem, but we won’t ever have to despair because He will reveal in His way and time what needs to happen. We might be persecuted, but He will be with us and will help us walk right through the opposition. We may be struck down like Jesus was in His hometown, but we won’t have to sit down. We will march out of that town and into the next because the Spirit of God will enable us to pick up and move on.
Jesus was sustained by the Holy Spirit all throughout His ministry. In the very next chapter of Luke He didn’t slow down a bit. He started recruiting His team. He started calling disciples and then He healed a man with leprosy. But notice what happens right after those events: Luke 5:16 “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Jesus recognized where His strength and power was coming from, and He would retreat to recharge in order to be sustained for the upcoming tasks. I love that this verse says He withdrew to lonely places. I want to think He made His way back to the desert where it all started.
Ezekiel 36:27 tells us, “And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” There is this reality for Christians that we are being upheld, we are being enlivened, we are being strengthened by the Holy Spirit within. Acts 17:28 tells us “In Him we live and move and have our being.” If you are in Christ, you are putting one foot in front of the other through the power of the Holy Spirit. He wants to do more than keep you breathing. He wants to breathe the life of Christ through you. He wants you to call disciples to follow after Him. He wants you to teach His Gospel. He wants you to go to the lepers and outcasts. It might take you to the edge of a cliff, but He will be there to make sure you don’t fall off!
2. The Holy Spirit inspires us to share God’s message. Jesus quoted the prophet Isaiah when He said in verse 18, “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 proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, 21 and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Once again it was the Holy Spirit that rested on Jesus and inspired Him to preach a specific message. If there is something poor people need it is good news. Blind people need their sight. Prisoners need to be released. People who are oppressed need to know a different kind of life is possible. There was nothing harsh or overbearing about Jesus’ message. It was all about lifting people, loving people, and helping them to become what they had not achieved in their own strength and power.
Every one of us is broken by sin, and we live in a broken world because of sin. Every one of us needs this kind of message, and every person we know needs this kind of message.
The term for poor (ptochos) refers to those who are abjectly poor or utterly destitute. The most common term for poor in the Hebrew Bible (‘ani) carries with it the notion of economically poor, but it also suggests the idea of oppression, exploitation and suffering. . . When individuals live in poverty, their lives are influenced by a host of political, cultural and economic relationships.
Poverty and wealth are always about such relationships, and Jesus announced that he would bring a new relationship to the poor. http://www.ethicsdaily.com/good-news-for-the-poor-luke-4-18-bible-commentary-for-the-new-baptist-covenant-cms-9316
The kind of poverty Jesus was addressing was the result of exploitation and oppression. Jesus was saying, “I’m ushering in a new kind of Kingdom; one that isn’t political. You don’t have to “pay your dues” to be a part. It isn’t based on who you know or where you were born. It isn’t based on the Good Ole Boys Club, but rather the all-inclusive grace, forgiveness, mercy and peace of God.” The ground at the foot of the cross was going to be level for everyone who would bow there. You didn’t have to know someone special to get connected. You only had to accept Jesus and the Good News He was preaching.
Jesus hung out with poor people. Even in the way He lived His life, He was preaching a message that had to be comforting to the poor. He was teaching His disciples not to despise the poor as other religious leaders did. He was teaching His disciples to reach for and care for the poor. How encouraged the poor must have been to see people embracing Jesus’ message and this new way of relating to all people. How valued they must have felt.
Isn’t that the Good News? We are all valuable to God! Can we let the Holy Spirit inspire us to share the same message with those in our world?
Jesus also had good news to give to those who were prisoners, those who were trapped in some way. Those early Jewish listeners would have been listening through the lens of their desire to be out from under Roman occupation and control. Remember, all throughout Jewish history, when the Jews would rebel there were times God made them submissive to people who became their captors and overseers. Many were hoping for that kind of physical deliverance from Rome. It is not God’s will that people should be slaves to the will of man, ever, but Jesus certainly had far more in mind than liberation from a people group.
God’s kind of deliverance was more spiritual in nature. People are slaves to sin and slaves to themselves through all manner and forms of addiction. Jesus was proclaiming the Good News that change was possible. The ability to make sound decisions and to say “no” to things which take life and destroy life was possible. If we believe the Holy Spirit can do anything, and we believe the Holy Spirit lives in believers, then believers can do anything in the power of the Holy Spirit!
Maybe you were born with a propensity to drink alcohol. I know because of my own battle with chocolate and Fritos I had better never take a drink. If I can drink it or chew it and it tastes good, I am going to want to shove it down my gullet as often as possible. That is why I haven’t ever indulged in alcohol. God has enabled me by His Spirit to make that choice. Through the Holy Spirit’s power, you too have the choice to say “no” to that as a lifestyle. Maybe you were born with the kind of nature that wants to experiment in the area of sexuality. Through the Holy Spirit’s power you can wait until you are married, and then God can bless that union. Maybe you were born with a bent towards homosexuality. Through the Holy Spirit’s power, you have the opportunity to choose a different path. Maybe you were born with a bent towards being quick tempered. Through the Holy Spirit’s power, you can control your tongue. Maybe you were born a narcissist and all you think of is yourself. Through the Holy Spirit’s power, you can learn to love and give. Maybe you were born with a predisposition to control, manipulate, and dominate others or your circumstances. Through the Holy Spirit’s power, you can become submissive and a team player.
We all have strongholds we have to deal with because we all are born with the sin nature. The role of the Holy Spirit is to take us back to God’s original design for our lives which is a design free from anything that would trap or control us. Yes, Jesus had Good News to proclaim. We can all be free from anything that enslaves us, and we can pass on that Good News to those we encounter.
In Holy Spirit power, Jesus was also inspired to let those who were blind know that sight was coming. We know He healed many people who were physically blind, but how often did He address the religious leaders as blind? See Matthew 23 for an example. Religion blinds people. They see forms not faith. They see rules not relationship. They see good works not grace. Jesus wanted people to know they could trust Him personally and not anything manmade.
People had been blinded by years of “do this and not this” and “do this and this and this and this.” They were so oppressed by regulations and burdens they couldn’t experience God in faith. Jesus gave them the Good News that He was there to open their eyes and show them the real way they could know God. How can we share the Good News with those who are bound by religious spirits? How can we liberate those who have a false sense of security because they have a relationship with a church, but no real relationship with God?
You and I have the same ability through the Spirit’s power to share all of the Good News Jesus shared. It’s all as simple as pointing people to Jesus. I love the Gospel Song that says:
I can’t take a heart that’s broken, Make it over again.
But I know a man who can
I can’t take a soul that’s sin sick, and make it white as the snow.
But I know a man who can.
I can’t walk upon these waters or calm the troubled sea.
But I know a man who can.
And I can’t cause blind eyes to open, or make the lame to walk again.
Oh But I know a man who can.
Some call him Savior the Redeemer of all men.
I call him Jesus for he’s my dearest friend.
If you think that no one loves you and your life is out of hand.
I know a man who can.
Finally, Luke helps us see that The Holy Spirit guides us. The Holy Spirit led Jesus to begin His ministry at home. It didn’t go very well in terms of people’s acceptance, but perhaps it played into Jesus’ future favor. Since He was going to be traveling from town to town maybe it made Him less homesick! Or not homesick at all! Maybe it was the experience He needed to be able to leave and stay focused on the tasks the Father assigned.
The Holy Spirit will ask us to speak on occasions when no one will outwardly respond and often where any inward response is met with resistance or ridicule. God will put us in situations which may feel hostile at times. Jesus had a lot of times when crowds were following, when crowds were for Him, when crowds welcomed Him. Perhaps this hometown crowd’s rejection prepared Him for the crowd that later turned on Him and cried, “Crucify Him.”
It was the Holy Spirit that guided you to faith in Christ (I Cor. 12:3) if you are indeed a Christian. In John 16:13 Jesus told the disciples He would be leaving soon and that the Holy Spirit would be coming on His behalf to dwell in every believer so that each of us could be personally guided by the Spirit of God. Do you need Holy Spirit guidance today? Do you know someone who does?
I want to tell you the true story of Lonnie. Lonnie was a beautiful young woman, but she didn’t know it. She was raised in a Houston family, abused sexually by both her father and her brother. Lonnie married a man much like her father. She loved him but was used by him. He, instead, fell in love with cocaine and himself. One day, he up and left her, taking all their money, cleaning out their bank accounts. She was left alone to raise two little children.
She tried to get a job. She did, but by the time she paid for child care she couldn’t make much money. Someone told her that with a body and looks like hers, she could make a lot more money as a stripper. She interviewed for the job at a local club. She felt she had the word “shame” inscribed on her forehead. She needed the money and accepted the job. She put her kids to bed, and drove her old car to the club. She wouldn’t do this long. It was temporary because she needed the money. But she made big money. The few nights turned into weeks and the weeks into months. She hated herself, but not enough to stop — even when those men looked at her in the same way as her father, brother and former husband.
One day her boss told her about a photo shoot for a magazine. It paid twice as much as she was making for just a few hours of her time. So she drove to Galveston to the address that was given. They hadn’t told her it was a hotel. She pulled up in front of it. The name of the hotel, believe it or not, was “Heartbreak Hotel.” Shame overcame her once again. Her head dropped. She cried out, “O God, help me!”
Lonnie got out of the car, walked toward the hotel entrance. She looked up and saw the strangest sight. Behind the sign, “Heartbreak Hotel,” was a huge billboard sign which read in large, bold letters, “Jesus Christ can mend a broken heart.”
Lonnie never went into that hotel. She turned around. She drove home. She never went back to the club. The next day she walked into the Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church in Houston, Texas. She talked with one of the associate pastors. She told him her story. She expected to be shamed by the pastor. Instead, he said, “Welcome home, Lonnie!” And Jesus Christ began to mend Lonnie’s broken heart.
At last report, Lonnie was still single, making less money than she did before. But she was making it and supporting her children at a respectable job, claiming God’s help to live one day at a time.
What happened to Lonnie? The Holy Spirit heard her simple prayer, “O God, help me.” The Holy Spirit guided her at her darkest moment. The Holy Spirit helped her look up at just the right second to see the Heartbreak Hotel sign framed by those ultimate words of hope, “Jesus Christ can mend a broken heart!”
Maybe you are here today and you see no way out. Jesus could have looked at the edge of that cliff and thought, “This is it. Death is in front of me, and there is no way out. Mission over!” But the Holy Spirit guided Him right through the crowd.
Maybe you are caught in sin and need the guidance of the Holy Spirit in order to get out. Maybe you are pursuing life in Christ and you need guidance about how to grow. Maybe you are contemplating major decisions and you need to know which way to go, the Holy Spirit can guide you to the will of God for your life. Maybe you are here today and you have questions about Christianity and how to be in relationship with God. The Holy Spirit is talking to you right now through this message about your need to get on track and to put all of your faith in Jesus.
The Holy Spirit IS God. He is faithful to His promises just as God the Father is. He will sustain you. He will inspire you to share the Good News. He will guide you. Are you seeking, like Christ, to be in the power of the Spirit?