“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,”
– Isaiah 61:1
'Then Jesus, armed with the Holy Spirit’s power, returned to Galilee, and his fame spread throughout the region. He taught in the synagogues and they glorified him. When he came to Nazareth, where he had been raised, he went into the synagogue, as he always did on the Sabbath day. When Jesus came to the front to read the Scriptures, they handed him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and read where it is written, When he came to Nazareth, where he had been raised, he went into the synagogue, as he always did on the Sabbath day. When Jesus came to the front to read the Scriptures, they handed him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and read where it is written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, and he has anointed me to be hope for the poor, freedom for the brokenhearted, and new eyes for the blind, and to preach to prisoners, ‘You are set free!’ I have come to share the message of Jubilee, for the time of God’s great acceptance has begun.” “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, and he has anointed me to be hope for the poor, freedom for the brokenhearted, and new eyes for the blind, and to preach to prisoners, ‘You are set free!’ I have come to share the message of Jubilee, for the time of God’s great acceptance has begun.” After he read this he rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the minister , and sat down. Everyone stared at Jesus, wondering what he was about to say. Then he added, “These Scriptures came true today in front of you.”'
It was Friday afternoon and our patchwork group of dreamers had gathered together at the most beautiful home in Big Canoe (shout-out to the Pulliams for their overwhelming kindness). Our founder, Amy, had gathered us together to dream and unify and listen to the Lord. As we walked through Isaiah 61 verse by verse, we all were sobered by the words on the page. I will never forget the moment when the Lord impressed upon my heart that, because He had made His home inside our hearts, verse 1 was our truth too. This wasn’t a scripture that was randomly chosen to headline a ministry. This was a scripture that the Lord was declaring over this group of leaders and entrusting us to steward. “The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners…” The very same people that He had pulled out of darkness and into His marvelous light were being entrusted to steward the SAME anointing. For clarity, we understand that we aren’t the ones that actually free people from bondage … but we are very much the ones who proclaim freedom for the captives, and the Holy Spirit living in us is powerful to move on the hearts of people, especially when we choose to release Him.
Matthew Henry states in his commentary about this topic that, “This is a great satisfaction to us, that, whatever Christ said, he had a warrant from heaven for; his doctrine was not his, but his that sent him. … He was to be a preacher … He was to be a healer… He was to be a deliverer.”
Now for a small-ish history lesson, because it’s important to know who Isaiah was and why He said what He did. Isaiah lived through some pretty tumultuous times. The text in Isaiah was not only prophetic of what was to come in Christ, but it was a prophetic decree that the prophet Isaiah was authorized to proclaim over the Jews. Israel was made captive to the Assyrians around 722 BC. Several years later King Sennacherib of Assyria attempted to capture Jerusalem, sending taunting words through his servant to the king of Judah that belittled and mocked the living God. It didn’t end well for King Sennacherib. In one night the Lord Himself rose up against 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians and by morning, they were all dead. Back at his home in Ninevah, King Sennacherib was in a temple of a pagan god (worshipping as though he had learned NOTHING from the living God that had single handedly overthrown his entire army) and two of his own sons snuck up on him and killed him with a sword. The events of his death were prophesied by Isaiah as well when he told the servants of the king of Judah to encourage him when he said, ‘Say to your master, “Thus says the Lord: Do not be afraid because of the words that you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have reviled me. 7I myself will put a spirit in him, so that he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land; I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.” ’ 2 Kings 18:6-7. Afterwards, the Lord heals King Hezekiah of Judah and gives him 15 more years to live. King Hezekiah received a letter during that time from the King of Babylon which prompted him to invite people from the Babylon King’s cabinet to come in and take a look at all of his earthly possessions. As soon as Isaiah heard this, he knew that Judah would eventually be overthrown and taken into captivity by Babylon … and even then, the Lord spoke through him the message of hope and redemption in Isaiah 61. The last 16 chapters of the book of Isaiah prophesy to God comforting Israel where they are, speaking tenderly to them, and breathes hope into their lungs by shifting their eyes upward as he speaks of the coming kingdom of Christ.
As we will see throughout the remainder of this blog series, the redemption the Lord brings to us, He also intends to bring THROUGH us. We have been invited to co-labor with Christ as He makes all things new. Proverbs 18:21 says that the tongue has the power of life and death, which makes me take a more pointed look at the first verse of this passage again. “The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. …” The entire calling BEGINS and ENDS with our words. Proclaim good news to the poor. Bind the brokenhearted. Proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.
This isn’t just Isaiah’s message to record for the generations. This is a mandate from heaven for those in Christ Jesus. No matter your occupation, you have not only an opportunity but INSTRUCTION from heaven to spread hope and joy and the message of the redemption of Christ. Let’s let our words and the tone of our voice always align with hope, with redemption, with reconciliation, and with an unwavering trust in our Lord to redeem every situation.
He is redeeming all of us, “For God so loved the WORLD …”