The Year of the Lord’s Favour
Under the Old Testament, the Jews would celebrate the year of Jubilee once every 50 years (Leviticus 25:8-17). At the year of Jubilee, the priests would blow the trumpets announcing a year of blessings, and the proclamation of liberty. During that year, all land was to be returned to the original families. Also, all slaves were allowed to go free. It was truly a time of blessings and liberty.
In Isaiah 61:1-2, Isaiah prophesied that the Lord would anoint someone to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord (ESV: year of the Lord’s favour). Like the year of Jubilee, the acceptable year refers to a time of blessings and of liberty. The Anointed One would “preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.” Jesus proclaimed that He was the one who was anointed to fulfil these things (Luke 4:18-21). Jesus was anointed to come and usher in a new year of blessings – not literally just for one year, but a time period – filled with blessings. We are living in the year of the Lord’s favour: the time period where we have access to the blessings afforded by Jesus. Here are 3 blessings that Jesus extends to us:
Good News – “the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek”
For the poor and meek of society, life is difficult. The recent Oxley road saga reminds us of the gap that exists between the aristocrats and the ordinary citizens. In Biblical times, the gap between the higher class and lower class of society was much more prominent, and those in the lower class were stuck in a life of poverty for generations. Even today, there are some of us who continue to struggle in order to make ends meet. However, Jesus brings good news to the poor and oppressed of society. Jesus does not promise a life free from poverty, but He promises a better life. He offers us rest, if we go to Him (Matthew 11:28). He offers us the abundant life – a life that is fulfilling and empowering (John 10:10). Furthermore, Jesus promises the kingdom: “Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God” (Luke 6:20). In the kingdom, the poor can have assurance that they have no disadvantage compared to the rich; in fact, it is more difficult for the rich to obtain Jesus’ spiritual blessings (Matthew 19:24). Therefore, Christians are joyful people despite our external circumstances, because of the good news that Jesus brings to us.
Healing – “he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted”
This life on earth is one that will cause us to have heart breaks. There are many who are broken-hearted because of pain, suffering, loss, and sin. However, Jesus gives us comfort. Jesus does not promise to heal all sicknesses and prevent suffering and death. However, we can have comfort with the knowledge that Jesus understands our suffering, because He experienced everything that we have been through, and more. Hence, we can pray to God with the assurance that Jesus our mediator understands and can intercede on our behalf (Hebrews 4:14-16). Furthermore, we can have comfort because of the hope Jesus gives: the hope that things will work out for the better (Romans 8:28); the hope of a better life after death (John 11:23). Therefore, although Christians face suffering and loss in this life, we can find comfort through Jesus Christ.
Freedom – “to proclaim liberty to the captives”
During Jesus’ time, many were held captive by the slave trade. However, even today, all men are held prisoners when we sin (John 8:34). We are trapped by the addictive influence of sin; we are trapped by the consequences of sin, which is spiritual death (Romans 6:23). However, Jesus offers liberty. Jesus frees us from the bondage of sin (John 8:34-36), and from the consequences of sin (Romans 6:23). In order to redeem us from sin’s imprisonment, Jesus paid the ultimate price – He died in our place (John 3:16). For us to obtain Jesus’ freedom, we need to obey from the heart the teaching that has been given to us from God (Romans 6:17-18); only the truth can set us free (John 8:31-32). After receiving Christ’s freedom, we must cleave to God, because Jesus freed us, not to serve sin again, but that we may serve God (Romans 6:1-4). Therefore as Christians, even though others may seek to shackle us, especially Satan, we can experience freedom through Jesus Christ.
This life on earth is one that is difficult: it is depressing; it is filled with heartbreaks; even imprisoning. However, Jesus was anointed to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour, in which we receive good news, healing, and freedom. Let us cleave to the Lord, so that we may obtain the blessings that Jesus extends to us (cf. Acts 11:23; Romans 11:22).