December 17, 2023
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good tidings to the afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison
to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour...
to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion -
to give them a garland (beauty)
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
the mantle of praise
instead of a faint spirit;...
Instead of your shame,
you shall have a double portion,
instead of dishonour
you shall rejoice in your lot;
therefore in your land
you shall possess a double portion;
yours shall be everlasting joy...
All who see them shall acknowledge them,
that they are a people
whom the Lord has blessed.
This prophecy is clearly about the promised and long-awaited Messiah. It declares with unmistakable clarity that this Messiah (which means the Anointed One) not only will come as promised, but will come with a very clear purpose, a very specific mission; to transform the lives of the afflicted and brokenhearted, and those in bondage. In other words, to transform your life and mine!
As we know Jesus read this text in the synagogue at Nazareth at the very outset of his public ministry. In doing so He declared that this prophecy was fulfilled in Him. The people there were scandalized because they knew He was publicly declaring Himself the Messiah! From that point on, with every word He preached and every healing and miracle He performed He provided evidence that His claim was true! Jesus was and is everything the prophet Isaiah foretold He would be. And that is incredibly good news for us, who to some degree are among those who are afflicted, brokenhearted and captives to some form of bondage.
Jesus has never lost His desire and power to fulfill His promises in us. Do we believe that? In our need, both great and small, do we go to the Lord with the kind of expectant faith we read about in the gospels? Is our hope mere wishful thinking, or do we exercise Christian hope; truly expecting Jesus to comfort, and heal, and deliver us as He has promised to do? Are we confident that He hears every prayer, and will fulfill every promise?
This prophecy shows us the heart of our loving Father and the intention of our gracious Saviour. To believe, to have faith, that God will fulfil in us every desire and promise is in fact very pleasing to God. Linda and I are convinced more than ever that bold expectant faith is a fitting and grateful response to the Lord's faithfulness and goodness. And for that reason endeavour to exercise that kind of faith ever more boldly and confidently.