Jesus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon me, because the LORD has appointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to announce that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.£ 2He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the LORD’s favor has come,£ and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. 3 To all who mourn in Israel,£ he will give beauty for ashes, joy instead of mourning, praise instead of despair. For the LORD has planted them like strong and graceful oaks for his own glory.
4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins, repairing cities long ago destroyed. They will revive them, though they have been empty for many generations. 5 Foreigners will be your servants. They will feed your flocks and plow your fields and tend your vineyards. 6 You will be called priests of the LORD, ministers of our God. You will be fed with the treasures of the nations and will boast in their riches. 7 Instead of shame and dishonor, you will inherit a double portion of prosperity and everlasting joy.
8 “For I, the LORD, love justice. I hate robbery and wrongdoing. I will faithfully reward my people for their suffering and make an everlasting covenant with them. 9 Their descendants will be known and honored among the nations. Everyone will realize that they are a people the LORD has blessed.”
10 I am overwhelmed with joy in the LORD my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom in his wedding suit or a bride with her jewels. 11The Sovereign LORD will show his justice to the nations of the world. Everyone will praise him! His righteousness will be like a garden in early spring, filled with young plants springing up everywhere.
Jesus quoted these words in Luke 4:18, 19. As he read to the people in the synagogue, he stopped in the middle of 61:2 after the words, “the time of the LORD’s favor has come.” Rolling up the scroll, he said, “This Scripture has come true today before your very eyes!” (Luke 4:21). The next phrase in 61:2, “and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies,” will come true when Jesus returns to earth again. We are now under God’s favor; his wrath is yet to come.
Under the old covenant, God ordained the priests of Israel to stand between him and his people. They brought God’s word to the people and the people’s needs and sins to God. Under the new covenant, all believers are priests of the Lord, reading God’s Word and seeking to understand it, confessing their sins directly to God, and ministering to others.
We suffer for many reasons—our own mistakes, someone else’s mistakes, injustice. When we suffer for our own mistakes, we get what we deserve. When we suffer because of others or because of injustice, God is angry. God in his mercy says that his people have suffered enough. God will reward those who suffer because of injustice. He will settle all accounts.
“Me” could refer to the Messiah, the person appointed by the Spirit of the Lord (61:1), or to Zion (62:1), which symbolizes God’s people. The imagery of the bridegroom is often used in Scripture to depict the Messiah (see Matthew 9:15), while the imagery of the bride is used to depict God’s people (see Revelation 19:6-8). I, too, can be clothed with the righteousness of Christ when I believe in him (2 Corinthians 5:21).
God’s Messiah would bring in a new kingdom in which Jerusalem would regain her glory. The people mistook this kingdom to be only earthly, therefore they missed Jesus mission.
When John’s disciples asked Jesus who he was, the burden of proof was on him to provide the answer. Jesus did not answer John’s question with mere words, he authenticated his messianic claim by his actions. In fact, his deeds that followed – healing the blind and lame and lepers and preaching good news to the poor – were in fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 61 concerning the Messiah and the favorable year of the Lord.
The same Scripture was the basis for Jesus’ “inaugural address”,” his first public sermon in which he announced himself and his mission to the Jews: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to released the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19).
As Jesus sent John’s disciples away, echoing the prophecy of Isaiah 61 once again, (Luke 7:22-23) they knew exactly what he was saying, even though he never gave a straight-out “Yes”.” Jesus actions in answer to John’s questions recalled the Old Testament prophecy about the poor, Jesus authenticated his claim to be the Son of God. John’s disciples returned to his prison cell as eyewitnesses of the proof of Jesus’ lordship. Now, no matter what happened to him, John could die in peace. He had fulfilled his task; he had prepared the way for the Messiah….
Today the burden of proof is on the church of Jesus Christ, the people of God….
We the church face a crisis in terms of the gospel we preach because we have not authenticated ourselves to the world around us. It amazes me how we can be so versed in the Scriptures yet never get around to asking ourselves the right questions. The proof of the burden is on us just as it was on Jesus . When Jesus was asked by the disciples of John to give proof of his messianic claims, he did so by his actions. He said to go and tell John not only what they heard but also what they saw: “the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospels preached” (see Matt. 11:5). If we are to be Jesus’ replacement on earth then we should constantly ask ourselves this same question: How do we as Christians demonstrate the proof of our claims to the world? If the church will ever authenticate its claim to be “the answer,” “the way,” “the good news,” then we will prove that claim, as Jesus did, among the poor and oppressed.
(From Beyond Charity by John Perkins)
Can people see that I am a Christian by the way I help the poor and oppressed, or do they only hear by your words? Yes! I should consider becoming involved in other ministries; including visiting the sick, poor, and shut-ins.
Who does “me” refer to in verse 10? The Messiah.
What stories from the Gospels portray Jesus ministry in terms of verses 1-3? (Luke 4:18-19) for starters. How do these verses relate to my experience of the good news?
We are now under God’s favor; his wrath is yet to come.
Do I feel as though I am “wearing ashes”? No. Am I “trying on new clothes”? Yes. Why? Because of my “Love” relationship with God. In what way do I especially want to see God bring this freedom to him? Because I am WHOLLY in love with Him, I do not have to please anyone else.
How do I feel about being called a priest? Awesome. What would it mean for me to live like a priest this week? Quite blessed.
In my responses to God’s promises, am I like a woman preparing for marriage, or one wondering whether to go out on another date? Getting ready for marriage.
The grace of God has two dimensions.
One dimension is the forgiveness of all our sins.
The other dimension is “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statues, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances” (Ezekiel 36:26-27).
We receive the Holy Spirit, and the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control. and “against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).
Therefore, one who has the new heart doesn’t need any law because the Holy Spirit makes the law and the prophets are fulfilled in one word, love.
Paul explained, “For this, ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; love therefore is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:9-10).
The fruit of the Spirit causes us to do what the law aimed at, plus a great deal more. This makes the law unnecessary.
- From Living with Jesus Today by Juan Carlos Ortiz