Ver. 16.—And He came to Nazareth. Note here that while Christ is said, in v. 14, to have gone into Galilee, He is not said to have entered Nazareth which is situated there, as S. Matthew (Mat_4:13) has it, but Capernaum, and there to have done the things which S. Matthew relates in iv. to xiii., all of which S. Luke passes over here, and then He is said to have come to Nazareth. S. Luke wished at the very outset to state the reason why Christ would not teach in Nazareth, namely, that He was despised by His fellow-townsmen as being the son of a carpenter. And though this only happened subsequently, yet Christ foresaw that it would be the case, and therefore turned aside from Nazareth and went to Capernaum, which He made the seat of His ministry, as S. Matthew relates in (Mat_4:13).
And stood up for to read. It was (and still is) the custom among the Jews that each one should read the Hebrew books of Holy Scripture in the synagogue on the Sabbath-day, both that he might learn the law of God from it, and also that he might be stirred up to the worship, love, and service of God. Moreover, it was the part of the Rabbin and the teachers, such as Jesus was, to read the Holy Scripture publicly, to interpret it, to preach, and to teach.
Ver. 17.—And there was delivered unto Him (by the attendant) the book of the prophet Isaias. This was done by the counsel and direction of God, that Jesus might show from Isaiah that He was the-Messiah described by that prophet.
And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written (Isa. 61:1). Christ seems so to have opened the book that, without looking for it, He lighted upon this passage of Isaiah by the will and guidance of God. The Vulgate, “as He unrolled the book,” is better; and Vatablus, “when He had unfolded;” others, “when He had spread out,” for this is the meaning of the Greek α̉ναπτύξαζ. For the books of the Hebrews were not divided into leaves, but consisted of one long piece of parchment which was rolled round a cylinder from beginning to end, as maps are nowadays. In order to read this parchment it was therefore necessary to unroll it, and spread it out.
Ver. 18.—The Spirit of the Lord is upon me: because He hath anointed me. The Holy Spirit, who was in Me from the beginning, descending upon Me here in the baptism which I have now received from John the Baptist, descending visibly in the form of a dove, while the voice of God the Father spoke forth in thunder, “This is My beloved Son; hear ye Him,” has by this sign, as by a visible anointing, publicly declared, authorised, and, as it were, consecrated Me as the Teacher, Prophet, Saviour, and Lawgiver of the world, and especially of the Jews to whom I was promised, and therefore—
He hath anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor, for the rich Scribes and Pharisees despise My lowliness and My poverty.
Observe the words “hath anointed me;” for in Hebrew “Messiah,” and in Greek Χζιστὸς, mean “anointed.” This anointing of Christ was accomplished secretly in the Incarnation—
(1.) By the grace of the hypostatic union, which made Him in the highest degree holy and divine—nay, made Him God.
(2.) By the plenitude of graces which flowed from this union. For other saints are said to be anointed with the grace and the gifts of the Holy Ghost, but Christ was anointed with the Holy Ghost Himself, as though with the very fountain and plenitude of all graces, that the Man Christ might become a superabundant fountain pouring forth its grace into all the apostles, martyrs, virgins, and confessors, so says Basil (de Spiritu Sancto, ch. xxvi.). Christ was, as I have said, publicly anointed in His baptism, to heal them that are brokenhearted—heal and console those who, by reason of their sins, and the burden of the law of Moses, as well as their ignorance of the things of God, are afflicted in spirit, and pant for the knowledge of God, His pardon, His grace, and His salvation, and who, therefore, look for the Messiah. Hence Symmachus and Theodotus render it; so S. Jerome tells us in his Commentary on Isa. 61., “to bind up the wounds of sinners.”
To preach deliverance to the captives—that I may preach, announce, and bring freedom, through penance and My grace, to those who are held captive by sin and the devil.
And recovering of sight to the blind. The Hebrew and Chaldee versions of Isaiah give “open to those bound,” i.e., as Symmachus has it, “loosening of those bound.” But the Septuagint, and S. Luke following them, render it in the Greek άνάβλεψιν, “looking again,” that they may see again. For the Hebrews call those that are blind bound, or shut, like the Latin idiom, “Moses seized in their eyes,” and consequently they call the illumination by which the eyes of the blind are opened “opening.” The meaning, therefore, is, Christ shall both restore sight to those who are physically, and illumine those who are spiritually, blind, and are ignorant of God and of the way of salvation. He shall teach them the knowledge of God and the way to save their souls. This was what Isaiah (Isa 42:7) clearly foretold that the Messiah should do: “I will give Thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles, to open the eyes of the blind.” And hence it is plain that Isaiah 62, is not speaking literally of the deliverance from the Babylonian captivity wrought by Cyrus, as Toletus would have it, but of the deliverance from the captivity of sin and of the devil wrought by Christ; for Cyrus restored sight to no one, but Christ to many. I confess, however, that there is an allusion to Cyrus, he being a type of Christ. To the Hebrews in Babylon who were “bound” he gave “opening and loosening,” as the Hebrew version has it, when he freed them from captivity and sent them back into Judæa.
To set at liberty them that are bruised—intoliberty and health. The Arabic has “to send thee bound into remission.” Pagninus, “that I may send forth the broken by remission.” So also Vatablus. These words are not in Isaiah lxi 1. in the Hebrew; they have been added paraphrastically by S. Luke or his interpreter, and seem to form another explanation of “to heal them that are brokenhearted.” So Forerius on Isaiah lxi., and Francis Lucas on this passage. Origen omits “to heal them that are brokenhearted,” and reads instead, “to send forth the broken into liberty;” and he adds, “What was so broken or shattered as the man who, when sent away by Jesus, was healed?”
For “broken” the Greek has τετζανσμένους, which Vatablus and others translate “broken.”
Ver. 19.—To preach the acceptable year of the Lord—the pleasing year—in Hebrew, רצון מנת scenat raston; in the Septuagint ε̉νιαυτὸν ε̉υδοκίας, that is, as S. Jerome renders it, “the placable year,” or, as others with propriety, “the year of the good pleasure,” of divine benevolence and liberality, such as was the year of the jubilee to which he here alludes. For the year of the jubilee was the type and figure of this evangelical year which Christ brought. So the whole time of the preaching of Christ, and thenceforward all the time of Christianity, is a year of jubilee to those who obey Christ and accept His liberty—a year of grace, mercy, peace, remission, liberality, and salvation, in which, after God’s long anger against us, we are restored to His grace, His favour, His heirship, His glory, and all the former blessings which we had in Paradise in the state of innocence. This is what S. Paul says in 2 Cor 6:2, “Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”
The Vulgate adds, and the day of retribution, of vengeance. The year of the jubilee, that is, the time of Christianity, shall be to the enemies of Christ a time of vengeance, when God shall avenge the human race on its enemies and oppressors, the demons that oppress it; for Christ shall deliver men from the devils, and shall cast them down, according to Isa 35:4, “Say unto the timid, Be comforted, and fear not; behold, your God shall bring the vengeance of retribution. God Himself shall come and shall save you.” Vulgate. And Christ says, in John 12:31, “Now is the judgment of the world, now shall the prince of this world be cast forth.”
Ver. 20.—And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on Him. “That they might hear,” says Euthymius, “how He interpreted what He had read.” For already the fame of what He had said and done at Capernaum had been noised abroad everywhere, so that many held Him to be the Messiah; and they especially desired to hear this from Christ. For they knew that the passage of Isaiah read by Him was a prophecy of the Messiah, and so they listened with eagerness to Him while He explained it.
Ver. 21.—And He began to say unto them, This day is this Scripture (“which has sounded,” says Euthymius, and the Syriac version), fulfilled in your ears. This day is fulfilled in your hearing this prophecy of Isaiah, while you hear me preaching to you and to the rest of the poor of Galilee the year of full remission, and I am prepared to do, nay, I have already done in Capernaum, all that Isaiah has here foretold. I am the Messiah of whom Isaiah there prophesies, whom you, in accordance with the predictions of Jacob and Daniel, are already eagerly expecting every moment. For, though Jesus does not clearly say that He is the Messiah, yet He tacitly implies it