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You will recognize the first verses of Isaiah 61 because Jesus quoted them when he went to his hometown in Nazareth (Luke 4.16-21).
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and release to the prisoners;
To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn. (Isaiah 61.1-2)
In today’s YouTube video Rudy Ross explains God’s amazing timing with Isaiah’s prophecy and the Sabbath day on which Jesus quoted from this passage.
God’s Perfect Timing
According to Rudy, each verse from the prophets was read in the synagogue once every 3 1/2 years.
When Jesus came to the synagogue in Nazareth, he didn’t choose Isaiah 61. It was the selection from the prophets for that day.
God had these verses arranged for his Son, so he could explain the impact of his ministry in a village where he was well known.
After Jesus read the assigned passage, he said, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4.21).
In what way did Jesus fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah 61?
Have you noticed how often the oppressed, brokenhearted, captives, and prisoners are mentioned in Isaiah? Nearly every chapter of the book includes some reference to vulnerable people who are injured by the powerful.
Over the centuries, Hebrew people fit the description of the oppressed. Bondage in Egypt, the Babylonian exile, domination by one superpower after another, the Holocaust, and persistent antisemitism are examples of their suffering.
Other people groups and individuals can also identify with the “last place” finishers on earth.
The good news is that Jesus came to do something about their situation.
— He brought good news to the poor.
— He proclaimed that the captives were to be released.
— His ministry included recovery of sight to the blind.
— The power of Jesus makes it possible for the oppressed to go free.
— He proclaimed the year of the Lord’s favor.
“Already, but not yet” is a phrase I often use in blog articles. When Jesus spoke in Nazareth, he inaugurated God’s activity on behalf of the people Isaiah mentioned. Today, people experience aspects of the five promises from Isaiah.
Yet, the full impact of Jesus’ activity is reserved for the end-time, when God will right all wrongs and “wipe the tears from every eye” (Revelation 21.4).
We are living “between the times,” when the “already” has arrived, but the fullness of God’s action has “not yet” taken place.
By God’s grace and human acceptance of his work, people can live in a measure of what Isaiah prophesied and Jesus came to give us. One day, there will be a full realization of his work.
The Spirit’s Work
Jesus depended on the Spirit to accomplish his mission. He applied Isaiah’s message to himself.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me . . . ” (Isaiah 61.1, Luke 4.18)
Jesus was empowered by the Holy Spirit for his ministry, and he came to make the Spirit available to us.
The Gospels record how the Spirit came on Jesus at his baptism. “And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him” (Mark 1.10).
The Gospels also tell us that Jesus came so people could be filled with the Spirit. John the Baptist said, “I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” (Mark 1.8).
The commission Jesus gave to the church included the work of the Holy Spirit. He said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28.19).
Jesus commanded the church to do far more than say the name of the Trinity over people as we dunked them in water. His command involved immersing people in the character and nature of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
— Baptize means “to immerse.”
— The name refers to God’s nature and character. The expression, “live a Jesus-kind-of-life,” captures the essence of being immersed in the name.
The Holy Spirit brings the experience of the presence of God to humans. All that Jesus was to his disciples when he walked with them, the Spirit is to us today.
Just as Jesus brought good news to troubled people, the Spirit brings God’s healing and helping power today.
Jesus needed the Spirit to fulfill his mission as outlined by Isaiah 61. We need the Spirit to receive what he desires to give to us.
What is Needed?
What do we need to do, so we can experience the good news of God’s love? Nothing more than a receptive attitude.
When we are ready to receive in faith what God has for us and to follow his guidance in life, he will provide all that is needed.
Good news, freedom, recovery, and so much more is available to us. It is freely given by God and can be freely received by faith.
God has another gift for his people. Just as Jesus was anointed with the Spirit to bring good news to humans, so are we. When we cooperate with the Holy Spirit, we will receive power to help other experience the promises of Isaiah 61.
About This Blog
Rudy Ross had many insights into this passage. You can see my interview with Rudy on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel. Please check it out.
Please email your prayer requests to firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.