Read Luke 4:16-21
It was a radically different law from any other they had ever heard. God told his people to take every seventh day for rest and worship. He then told them to give the land a Sabbath rest every seventh year during which no crops were to be planted or harvested. In Leviticus 25, God explained his plan for Jubilee. Jubilee was to take place every 49 years. All debt was forgiven, slaves were to go free, and the people were to return to their family’s land even if it had been mortgaged away from them. It was to be a year of great liberty and freedom.
Fast-forward thousands of years to Jesus in a Jewish synagogue, unrolling a scroll and reading from Isaiah 61. The words he read and then claimed to fulfill were words of Jubilee. Jubilee was not a foreign concept to Jesus’ audience, but by this time in Israel’s history, it seemed like wishful thinking. Not only were the people under the rule of the Roman Empire, but they also lived in a culture in which poverty and captivity were seen as a sign of God’s distaste. When Jesus came to earth as a child, he was sent to declare true Jubilee: Christmas Jubilee.
The declaration Jesus made on that day was not for a one-year Jubilee, but an everlasting jubilee. Christmas is a yearly reminder that Jesus’ life is a proclamation of good news. The year of the Lord’s favor is this year — and every year that follows!
Perhaps you find it difficult to experience the beauty and power of Jesus’ declaration of liberty. It could be that you don’t identify with being poor, captive, blind, or oppressed, but in many ways, you are. Stepping into the joy of “Christmas Jubilee” requires that we remember our need for this liberty. True liberty was given to the world when Jesus came, and we can still step into it today.
Reflection and Response
Sometimes we have to remember our need for jubilee before we can receive the joy of jubilee. In what ways are you in need of a “Christmas Jubilee?” Confess today what you would like to be free set free from — and confess that from which Jesus has already begun to set you free.
By Aaron Bjorklund