BEFORE YOU GATHER
- Familiarize yourself with this Group Discussion Guide
- If you missed it, CLICK HERE to watch the weekend sermon
- Read Isaiah 61:1-7 and Luke 4:14-21
- Get a feel for the Book of Isaiah as a whole by WATCHING THIS VIDEO
- Sit in prayerful silence with God for a while, and ask the Holy Spirit if there is anything that he wants you to share during your group’s time together.
ISAIAH DEVOTIONAL: THE YEAR OF THE LORD’S FAVOR
Every week, enhanced content will be provided for those who want to take things beyond their group’s gathered time – to be used for personal enrichment.
In his hometown of Nazareth, Jesus preaches his first sermon, and what does he preach from? The scroll of Isaiah the Prophet. Specifically, Chapter 61. After he finishes reading from this part of Isaiah, Jesus rolls up the scroll and essentially tells everyone in the synagogue, “these words are about ME.”
We have to ask: Who is being described in Isaiah 61?
Answer: The Messiah – the Spirit-Anointed Deliverer of God’s People.
And what does the Messiah come to do? Isaiah tells us that Messiah will:
- Preach Good News to the Poor
- Proclaim Freedom to Prisoners and Sight to the Blind
- Bring in the Year of the Lord’s Favor
In Jesus’ ministry, we see all three of these things, but for our purposes, let’s focus on The Year of the Lord’s Favor, which is a direct reference to the Old Testament Jubilee Year. What is the Jubilee Year? After God rescued his people out of slavery in Egypt, he never wanted them to be oppressed or to become the oppressors, and so God commanded community practices that would regularly remind people that they are free, and that they are meant to set others free.
First of all, on the seventh day of the week, everyone rested and replenished from their 6 days of labor – it’s called the Sabbath Day.
But then, every seventh year was a Sabbath Year – where the land rested and replenished after 6 years of planting and harvesting.
And then, every 7×7 years, or 49 years, God commanded the Jubilee Year.
The Year of Jubilee was when all debts were cancelled, everyone’s ancestral lands were restored to them, and any slaves were set free. The Jubilee Year was meant to give everyone their life back, to get a fresh start.
Can you imagine what it would be like if a society of people experienced this kind of liberation every week, every 7 years, and every 49 years? It’s what God intended all along, but it’s sad to say that God’s people never celebrated the Jubilee Year – not once in their entire story.
Thankfully, Jesus steps onto the scene of human history and says, “The Year of the Lord’s Favor, it’s arrived in me!”
In Matthew’s Gospel, we’re given a record of Jesus’ genealogy. And Matthew divides up his genealogy of Jesus – from Abraham to David to the Babylonian exile – into 3 sets of 14 generations. And then Matthew draws extra attention to the 3 sets of 14 to be sure that we don’t miss it.
Why is this important? Because 3 sets of 14 makes 6 sets of 7. And Matthew wants us to see that Jesus is the SEVENTH SEVEN. Jesus is the long-awaited Jubilee that brings us out of exile. In Jesus, all debts are forgiven, people can return home, slaves are set free. In Jesus, all things are made new. In Christ, we receive ultimate Sabbath rest.
All of us need Jubilee. All of us need a do-over. All of us need freedom and restoration and reconciliation. And we find this in Jesus our Jubilee.
Read Galatians 5:13-25 and Ask Yourself: What have we been set free FROM, and what have we been set free FOR?
Opening Prayer: (1-5 minutes)
In light of what God is saying through this week’s message, here’s some suggestions of how your group can invite God into your time together.
At the conclusion of our Isaiah series, take time to thank God for some of the different things that he has revealed to you and your group from this prophetic book.
Quick Connection: (5 minutes)
Have everyone take 30 seconds each to share a phrase or a moment from this weekend’s message that is still resonating with them. You also have the option to say “Pass.”
Large Group Discussion: (30 minutes)
This weekend’s message came from Isaiah 61:1-7 and Luke 4:14-21. If everyone has a Bible, let’s go there together.
- Have someone read Isaiah 61:1-7 and then Luke 4:14-21. When you imagine the people in the Nazareth synagogue, what sorts of thoughts would have been running through their mind when they heard Jesus say that this Scripture was being fulfilled in their midst?
- Isaiah 61:1-7 is a description of what the Messiah was all about. What are some examples of these kinds of things at work in the ministry of Jesus?
- In Luke 4:14-21, when Jesus says that he has come to announce The Year of the Lord’s Favor, or the Jubilee, what sorts of freedom and restoration were people supposed to experience during the Jubilee Year? How is the Jubilee Year a picture of what we ultimately experience in Jesus himself?
- How does your own life need to go through a Jubilee – where God brings true freedom, reconciliation, and rest? Who do you know that also needs to experience the Jubilee that is Jesus himself? How do you need God to transform you into someone who lives in true freedom, so that others have you as a living example of what this looks like?
CLOSING PRAYER (5-15 minutes):
In light of what God is saying through this week’s message, here’s some suggestions of what your group could talk about with God in prayer.
As a group, go around and thank God for a specific area of our lives where he has brought true freedom, reconciliation, and rest. Ask God to work through your lives to point others to the freedom that Jesus offers to all of us.