Isaiah 61 should be read along with Luke 4:16-21. Word had come back to Nazareth concerning one whom they knew quite wellone who had been brought up in their town, working as a carpenter. They had heard of some of the great things he had done and said (Luke 4:14-15, 23). Now, he was back in town; so they all gathered at the synagogue on the Sabbath day, knowing that he would be there (Luke 4:16) and would read and speak. Our Lord selected the Messianic prophecy from Isaiah 61:1-3, read it, and declared, "This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears."
If we can discover what this scripture is saying, we will have an understanding of the person and work of our great Messiah. The people of Nazareth did not understand Him nor His ministry and sought to kill Him (Luke 4:28-30). I pray that we understand the person and work of the Messiah.
(Vs. 1) "THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD GOD IS UPON ME." Even the Saviour's mission and ministry were dependent on the Spirit of God (Mark 1:9-11; John 3:34-35). The Father ordained and anointed the God-Man, Christ Jesus, to be our surety, substitute, sin-offering, and Saviour. He gave Him the Holy Spirit without measure. He came from the Father on behalf of His elect to accomplish the Father's will, speak His words, perform His work, honor His law, and satisfy His justice.
"THE LORD HATH ANOINTED ME TO PREACH GOOD TIDINGS TO THE MEEK" or the gospel to the poor. Our Lord preached (Matt. 4:17) by His words, His miracles, His silence, and His looks. He lived the prince of preachers, He died the theme of all preaching, and He arose the Lord of preachers. He preached good tidings of grace, mercy, and forgiveness of sin to the poor, not necessarily to the materially poor (for even the rich are poor spiritually) , but to the poor in spirit. These are those who are sensible of their sins and humbled because of them. These poor disown any righteousness of their own and stand naked and condemned before God. These poor have nothing, know nothing, and can do nothing acceptable unto God. They are in desperate need of all things and ascribe all that they receive to the grace of God.
"HE HATH SENT ME TO BIND UP THE BROKEN HEARTED." A broken heart is PAINFUL and finds no relief for its distress in the flesh. A broken heart is HELPLESS. We know what to do for a broken arm, but a broken heart needs a transplanta new heart which only our Lord can give (Psalm 34:18; 51:17; Ezek. 36:25-27).
"TO PROCLAIM LIBERTY TO THE CAPTIVES." In September, 1862, Mr. Lincoln issued an Emancipation Proclamation effective January 1, 1863, freeing all slaves. It was not a request nor an invitation nor a suggestion, but a proclamationthey were free! Our Lord came to set the captives of the law free from its curse, the captives of Satan and sin free from his dominion and from the penalty of sin (Rom. 8:33-34). By His grace through His offering, we are free forever (Heb. l0: 12-14).
"THE OPENING OF THE PRISON TO THEM THAT ARE BOUND." Believers, who have been bound by sin and in bondage to the flesh, are set free; but some are set free from the darkness and bondage of false religion, like Saul of Tarsus. False religion, tradition, and legalism are a prison. We are delivered by Christ (Gal. 5:1).
(Vs. 2) "TO PROCLAIM THE ACCEPTABLE YEAR OF THE LORD." This is the fulfillment of the "year of Jubilee" (Lev.25:8-10). Every seventh year was the Lord's year and was a sabbath of rest to the land. But on the year following the seventh of these sevens was the year of Jubilee.
(1) Every man sold into slavery was set free,
(2) all property and family land was redeemed and returned,
(3) all debts were discharged, and
(4) a year of rest was proclaimed.
"AND THE DAY OF VENGEANCE OF OUR GOD." I know that many read this to be that awful day of vengeance when God was pleased to visit all the iniquity and transgressions of His people on Christ. It pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He was smitten of God and afflicted. This is true, but the gospel is proclaimed with a two-fold effect! All men do not believe. "Some believed and some did not believe." The gospel preached is a fragrance of life to those who have life, but it is an odor of death and judgment to those who will not believe. God will visit His wrath upon those who will not believe (John 3:36; Mark 16:15-16; II Cor. 2:14-16). This is the day of vengeance of our God.
"TO COMFORT ALL THAT MOURN." Christ is the true comfort for all true mourners. Thev mourn under a sense of sin (their own sins and the sins of others); they mourn under trial and affliction; they mourn when they cannot repent as they should, believe as they should, nor pray as they should. But they find comfort for all this in Christ, His blood, His intercession, and the precious promises of His Word.
(Vs. 3) "TO GIVE THEM BEAUTY FOR ASHES."
(1) Ashes mean the FIRE HAS GONE OUT. Our fire of joy, life, ard hope is burned out in Adam; but Christ restores the beauty and warmth of spiritual fire.
(2) Ashes mean DEATH; "Dust to dust and ashes to ashes." In Christ we have eternal life, never to die.
(3) Ashes represent sorrow. In extreme sorrow there were ashes and sackcloth.
But He took our death, our mourning, and bore our sorrows, giving to us beauty, His beauty (Ezek. 16:14).
"BEAUTY FOR ASHES, OIL OF JOY FOR MOURNING, AND A GARMENT OF PRAISE FOR THE SPIRIT OF HEAVINESS." Here is what Isaiah is saying: The Lord Jesus gives His mourners the beautiful garments of His salvation, the robe of His righteousness, the graces of His Spirit, and His gracious presence, together with His word; and these yield joy, peace, and comfort through all of this pilgrim journey. "THAT THEY MIGHT BE TREES OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, THE PLANTING OF THE LORD, THAT HE MIGHT BE GLORIFIED." Several things are suggested.
1. Trees are planted by someone. These are "the planting of the Lord."
2. Trees that live have roots in water (Matt. 13:6. Psalm 1:3). Our root is in Christ, the living water.
3. The life of the tree is the sap within. The Spirit of God dwells in believers (John 7:37-39).
4. Trees which God plants bear fruit (Gal. 5:22).
5. Trees which God plants never wither (Psalm 1:3-4).
And in all of this GOD IS GLORIFIED! From Alpha to Omega in the redemption of a sinner, God is glorified (John 17:1-4).
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