Calvin Rock, veteran author, academic, and administrator, is a retired vice president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and one of Adventism’s most respected voices on the issues this article engages. The item before you is one of seven in Dr. Rock’s series on “The Radically Social Jesus.”
“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, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18, 19, KJV).
They couldn’t believe it! Not only had He declared Himself the long-awaited Messiah, He included in His platform such radical social programs as:
special assistance to the economically deprived,
health care for the sight impaired, and
correction of the criminal justice system.
Had He simply highlighted the final initiative—“preaching the acceptable year of the Lord”—that, itself, would have been provocative; but not this other social activism! Absolutelyun. believ. able!
It was indeed “Messiah time,” but this unimposing, homeschooled son of Joseph was certainly not the Messiah “type.” And make no mistake, He was looking straight at them, challenging their scruples, belittling their person, and throwing them under the gospel bus. He so infuriated them, as Luke 4:28, 29 records, that they ran Him out of town and actually tried to throw Him off a cliff!
Truth is, they should not have been shocked at all. The fact that they were shocked demonstrated a fatal misunderstanding of the nature of the promised messianic kingdom. Rabid hope of deliverance from Roman oppression and return to the heady days of Davidic glory muted their attention to matters of the heart and the social concerns that Jesus later classified as justice and mercy—the superior elements of the law.
They offered prosaic prayers for their unfortunate kin but exercised no practical energies for relief of their plight. Their greed rendered them oblivious to the cries for justice voiced in the parchment writings of the very prophets to whose authority they laid claim. Their prideful vision of a Messiah appearing in trappings of greatness and glory blinded them to His true humanity; by pedigree and personage the man before them simply could not be the long-awaited Deliverer!
But they really should have known; the identifying features of His promised appearing had been clearly foretold: (1) His virgin birth, (2) the city of His nativity, (3) the time of His appearance, and (4) the name He would be given had all been predicted.
And it happened just as foretold. He entered our space in form and on time: