God’s Special Favor
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and the regaining of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19, NET)
In our current western culture, we often miss the assumptions that the First Century writers made when they penned their gospel accounts. Remez is a Hebrew practice of mentioning a keyword or phrase that would hint at a passage from the Hebrew scriptures (Old Testament) with the assumption the audience would know its broader meaning. The listener would then be able to import that context to add greater significance and clarity to the current teaching moment. Remez is reflected in Jesus’ teachings and parables throughout the Gospels and is important to understand and pay attention to.
For example, remez occurs in today’s passage when Jesus said, “to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Those listening to Jesus would have remembered what Isaiah said, “to proclaim freedom for the captives…To proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God” (Isaiah 61:1-2, NIV). In doing this, Jesus put an exclamation point on what his life and calling were about: mercy, compassion, blessings.
Favor is an interesting word. My Google search revealed that favor can mean approval, support, or liking for someone or something; or an act of kindness beyond what is due or usual. The Hebrew word for favor is ratzon and means goodwill, favor, acceptable, will; when combined with LORD, it becomes ratzon la Adonai: the divine goodwill.
When I think back over my 30-plus years of playing golf, my two swing instructors have shown me great favor. They blessed me with their time, knowledge, and encouragement, rarely accepting anything in return. I would not be the golfer I am today without their generosity.
Likewise, I have been the recipient of the Lord’s favor. His mercy invited me into relationship with Jesus and continues to love me despite the tug of war I play with him. His compassion has been extended through other people who have helped me fight for my heart in bringing to light my darkest secrets. His blessings show up daily… a spontaneous dinner invitation, a playful text from a friend’s son, protection as I travel, a renewed enjoyment for golf, health, quiet mornings, and motorcycle rides. Sadly, these little blessings often get overshadowed by my overwhelming to-do list.
Today I would like to invite you (and me) to pause and reflect on where and how the Lord’s favor—his divine goodwill of mercy, compassion, and blessings—has infiltrated your life in the past and be on the lookout for where it will show up today. If we are unable to recognize what we have graciously received, it will be impossible to be authentic ambassadors of Jesus’ mercy, compassion, and blessings to others.
June 29, 2017
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