on Luke 4 :18
The Spirit of the Lord - This is found in Isaiah 61:1; but our Lord immediately adds to it Isaiah 42:7. The proclaiming of liberty to the captives, and the acceptable year (or year of acceptance) of the Lord, is a manifest allusion to the proclaiming of the year of jubilee by sound of trumpet: see Leviticus 25:8 (note), etc., and the notes there. This was a year of general release of debts and obligations; of bond-men and women; of lands and possessions, which had been sold from the families and tribes to which they belonged. Our Savior, by applying this text to himself, a text so manifestly relating to the institution above mentioned, plainly declares the typical design of that institution. - Lowth.
He hath anointed me - I have been designed and set apart for this very purpose; my sole business among men is to proclaim glad tidings to the poor, etc. All the functions of this new prophet are exercised on the hearts of men; and the grace by which he works in the heart is a grace of healing, deliverance, and illumination; which, by an admirable virtue, causes them to pass from sickness to health, from slavery to liberty, from darkness to light, and from the lowest degrees of misery to supreme eternal happiness. See Quesnel. To those who feel their spiritual poverty, whose hearts are broken through a sense of their sins, who see themselves tied and bound with the chains of many evil habits, who sit in the darkness of guilt and misery, without a friendly hand to lead them in the way in which they should go - to these, the Gospel of the grace of Christ is a pleasing sound, because a present and full salvation is proclaimed by it; and the present is shown to be the acceptable year of the Lord; the year, the time, in which he saves to the uttermost all who come unto him in the name of his Son Jesus. Reader! what dost thou feel? Sin-wretchedness-misery of every description? Then come to Jesus - He will save Thee - he came into the world for this very purpose. Cast thy soul upon him, and thou shalt not perish, but have everlasting life.
on Luke 4 :18
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me - Or, I speak by divine appointment. I am divinely inspired to speak. There can be no doubt that the passage in Isaiah had a principal reference to the Messiah. Our Saviour directly applies it to himself, and it is not easily applicable to any other prophet. Its first application might have been to the restoration of the Jews from Babylon; but the language of prophecy is often applicable to two similar events, and the secondary event is often the most important. In this case the prophet uses most striking poetic images to depict the return from Babylon, but the same images also describe the appropriate work of the Son of God.
Hath anointed me - Anciently kings and prophets and the high priest were set apart to their work by anointing with oil, 1 Kings 19:15-16; Exodus 29:7; 1 Samuel 9:16, etc. This oil or ointment was made of various substances, and it was forbidden to imitate it, Exodus 30:34-38. Hence, those who were set apart to the work of God as king, prophet, or priest, were called the Lord's anointed, 1 Samuel 16:6; Psalm 84:9; Isaiah 45:1. Hence, the Son of God is called the "Messiah," a Hebrew word signifying the "Anointed," or the "Christ," a Greek word signifying the same thing. And by his being "anointed" is not meant that he was literally anointed, for he was never set apart in that manner, but that "God had set him apart" for this work; that "he" had constituted or appointed him to be the prophet, priest, and king of his people. See the notes at Matthew 1:1.
To preach the gospel to the poor - The English word "gospel" is derived from two words - "God" or "good," and "spell," an old Saxon word meaning "history, relation, narration, word, or speech," and the word therefore means "a good communication" or "message." This corresponds exactly with the meaning of the Greek word - "a good or joyful message - glad tidings." By the "poor" are meant all those who are destitute of the comforts of this life, and who therefore may be more readily disposed to seek treasures in heaven; all those who are sensible of their sins, or are poor in spirit Matthew 5:3; and all the "miserable" and the afflicted, Isaiah 58:7. Our Saviour gave it as one proof that he was the Messiah, or was from God, that he preached to "the poor," Matthew 11:5. The Pharisees and Sadducees despised the poor; ancient philosophers neglected them; but the gospel seeks to bless them - to give comfort where it is felt to be needed, and where it will be received with gratitude. Riches fill the mind with pride, with self-complacency, and with a feeling that the gospel is not needed. The poor "feel" their need of some sources of comfort that the world cannot give, and accordingly our Saviour met with his greatest success the gospel among the poor; and there also, "since," the gospel has shed its richest blessings and its purest joys. It is also one proof that the gospel is true. If it had been of "men," it would have sought the rich and mighty; but it pours contempt on all human greatness, and seeks, like God, to do good to those whom the world overlooks or despises. See the notes at 1 Corinthians 1:26.
To heal the brokenhearted - To console those who are deeply afflicted, or whose hearts are "broken" by external calamities or by a sense of their sinfulness.
Deliverance to the captives - This is a figure originally applicable to those who were in captivity in Babylon. They were miserable. To grant deliverance to "them" and restore them to their country - to grant deliverance to those who are in prison and restore them to their families - to give liberty to the slave and restore him to freedom, was to confer the highest benefit and impart the richest favor. In this manner the gospel imparts favor. It does not, indeed, "literally" open the doors of prisons, but it releases the mind captive under sin; it gives comfort to the prisoner, and it will finally open all prison doors and break off all the chains of slavery, and, by preventing "crime," prevent also the sufferings that are the consequence of crime.
Sight to the blind - This was often literally fulfilled, Matthew 11:5; John 9:11; Matthew 9:30, etc.
To set at liberty them that are bruised - The word "bruised," here, evidently has the same "general" signification as "brokenhearted" or the contrite. It means those who are "pressed down" by great calamity, or whose hearts are "pressed" or "bruised" by the consciousness of sin. To set them "at liberty" is the same as to free them from this pressure, or to give them consolation.
on Luke 4 :18
4:18 He hath anointed me - With the Spirit. He hath by the power of his Spirit which dwelleth in me, set me apart for these offices. To preach the Gospel to the poor - Literally and spiritually. How is the doctrine of the ever - blessed trinity interwoven, even in those scriptures where one would least expect it? How clear a declaration of the great Three - One is there in those very words, The Spirit - of the Lord is upon me! To proclaim deliverance to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised - Here is a beautiful gradation, in comparing the spiritual state of men to the miserable state of those captives, who are not only cast into prison, but, like Zedekiah, had their eyes put out, and were laden and bruised with chains of iron. Isa 61:1.