2008-05-11am Isaiah 61:1-4 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord
How do you read the Bible? Do you simply read it? Do you pray over the words? Do you memorise them? Do you recognise that this book is the most important book on the planet? Do you know that this book reveals the creator of the universe? By reading the Bible, we have the privilege of getting to know God!
It is an awesome book! This book is timeless. It speaks to every culture, every people, every situation. Really, it does. It does not need our help to be more relevant. It is relevant. It’s relevance is built in! God knows His people! God knows his creation, much more than a woodworker knows how his bookshelf is built, much more than a mechanic knows how the engine is put together, much more than the tailor knows how many stitches are in a garment.
God knows His people. He knows what we need to hear. He knows our situation. He knows. He’s the author of the universe! He created it! He knows. Nothing we do shocks him. Not the good, not the bad, nothing comes as a surprise to God!
God knows us, perfectly.
He knows our situation.
He knew Israel’s situation. In the original passage, the passage that Jesus read out in Nazareth, Isaiah is preaching to his people. He’s preaching, he’s proclaiming good news! It is a beautiful message! It is a hopeful message! It is pregnant with promise.
He says, “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me to preach.” God anointed Isaiah, God specially anointed him! And because of that, Isaiah was up for the task.
Are you familiar with Isaiah’s anointing? At the beginning of his ministry, Isaiah has a vision of God’s throne. God is sitting on the throne; the train of God’s glory fills the huge expanse of the temple completely. There are two creatures, two seraphim in front of the throne. They have six wings. With two, they cover their eyes, and with two, they cover their feet and with two, they fly. They call to one another saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isaiah 6:3).
On seeing all this, Isaiah cries out, “Woe is me! For I am a man of unclean lips! I live among people with unclean lips! And my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty!”
Then one of the seraphs flew over to Isaiah with a burning coal. He touched Isaiah’s lips with it, saying, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for” (Isaiah 6.7). Then, the call goes out. The Lord asks for a prophet. He asks whom he shall send. Isaiah, full of awe, full of the sight of God’s glory, full of the realisation that his sin has been atoned for, Isaiah cries out, “Here I am! Send me!”
Now, we speed up, several years, and several chapters. Isaiah proclaims that the Spirit of the Lord is upon him! His lips have been purified. Cleansed by God, he is worthy of bringing the truth of God to the people. He’s anointed, through the coal, to speak! His lips are clean!
The setting is significant. Once again, God delivers a promise. The people are not in exile yet. The wise among them realise it is coming. The blind and foolish don’t have a clue. They keep doing the things that incur the wrath of God against them. But it will happen. The Israelites will be exiled to Babylon. The nation will come under God’s loving, righteous discipline. But the discipline will be effective. It will turn people’s hearts back to God! They will repent. They will confess. They will seek after the Lord, and He will be found!
And yes, after 70 years, the exiled Israelites return to the Promised Land. They rebuild the temple. They continue to worship God.
But it is not complete yet. It is not perfect. They keep some of the high places. They still are influenced by pagan worship. They don’t love God will all their hearts, all the souls, all their minds and all their strength. There’s something missing. Everything is less than perfect.
Fast forward several hundred years. Jesus goes home. He’s just come out of forty days in the wilderness. Forty days of fasting. Forty days of round after round of bouts with the devil. What could be better than going home? Familiarity. Family. Friends. A chance to relax. On his way home, he preaches and teaches. He taught in all the synagogues along the way. He taught with power and authority, with grace and wisdom. News about him spreads.
Finally, he gets home. It’s the Sabbath. He goes to his home synagogue. His home church.
Listen to what happens.
Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.
He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
“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 release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Can you imagine that? No one, no one apart from God could say and mean the words Jesus said. No one else has the guts to say, “today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing!”
Can you imagine it!
The Israelites have longed for this day! Imagine their dissatisfaction when the return from exile wasn’t as glorious as they’d hoped. For years, they struggled. They fought with other nations. Then, the Greeks took over, and then the Romans, who still oppress them. They are not their own nation. Their territory is small, a fraction of what it once was. They’re prisoners in their own land.
They’re longing for someone to set them free. A king to rule them. A priest to serve them. A prophet to preach to them.
And Jesus sits down and says their dreams have come true. Their prophet, their priest, their king is sitting right there in front of them.
Only, there’s just one little problem. They know this guy. He’s one of them. He’s no king. Sure, Mary and Joseph can trace their lineage back to David, but so what! He’s just a carpenter’s son. Finally, he’s back home, maybe now he’ll get some work done.
But Jesus’ message is the truth! Jesus fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy. In a way that they could not even imagine. In a way that we can barely imagine!
Jesus is the anointed one. He was anointed, in a way similar to that of Isaiah, but also in a way quite different. Jesus didn’t have to confess sin. Jesus is perfect. There, after his baptism, as Jesus is coming out of the water, the Holy Spirit anoints him. The Holy Spirit descends upon Jesus. He is anointed not by men, not by human hands, not by oil, not even by a coal carried by a seraph, a mere creature. No, in this, Jesus is superior to everyone. Jesus is anointed by God the Father himself!
Having received the Holy Spirit, Jesus goes into the wilderness to suffer as none of us have ever suffered. Tormented by Satan, attacked, punished, and lied to. But Jesus stands firm. Hopefully, we all know how he stood firm. Hopefully, we’re all aware.
Jesus quoted scripture to the devil. Do you love this book? Do you know this book? Have you memorised from this book? This is the tool to use when the devil comes attacking! Want to defeat the devil? Want to turn from sin? Want to lead a godly life? Want to experience Joy and happiness, and peace, even in the midst of awful suffering?
Read, memorise, pray through, and use this book for something other than a dust collection system.
Read this book.
The Holy Spirit is upon Christ. We’re going to be looking at this more closely this evening, come and check it out!
Jesus Christ is anointed to fulfil the passage written by Isaiah so long ago.
Jesus came to preach good news to the poor.
Who are the poor? No, this does not refer to the financially destitute. It is the spiritually destitute! Jesus came not with earthy riches, but heavenly rewards! The bottom line is not the bottom line! Jesus did not come to provide physical, economic wealth. If we have it, it is our responsibility to be good stewards of it. If you are sitting there thinking that because you are rich, and believe me, there are at least 800 million people in the world who don’t have a clue as to where their next meal is going to come from, or even if there will be a next meal, if you are sitting there thinking that the riches you have now are because of spiritual faithfulness, then you’re reward in heaven will be very small.
We are filthy, stinking rich, okay! But if you think you are rich because you’re a Christian, you haven’t understood Christianity at all! It is about spiritual wealth, eternal life! It is not about getting rich now! The problems in the world are not so much that the wealth and the resources that God placed on the planet are so poorly distributed, but rather, that people are Spiritually destitute! Jesus came to preach good news to the spiritually poor!
Second, He came to proclaim freedom for the prisoners.
Why, perhaps you are wondering, why don’t we have a prison ministry? Why don’t we have people volunteering to visit the local jail, the few cells in the Edson detachment, that get filled up every Friday and Saturday night? Why, because he’s not talking primarily about people who are physically locked up, he’s talking about people who are spiritually locked up! Even so, a prison ministry is important, but the point is not physical incarceration, but spiritual incarceration.
Ever since humanity’s fall into sin, people have been prisoners. They have been held in jail by the Satan’s poisonous lies. They need to be set free. And that freedom is proclaimed. That freedom is preached to them! God has chosen preaching to set people free! Why? Because people need to have their minds transformed! They need to have the shackles removed not from their wrists and ankles, but from their hearts! And that happens through preaching!
Jesus went throughout Israel preaching the good news—good news that He, God the Son, was with them! He granted forgiveness, grace, love, peace, righteousness! To all who believed him, who believed in his name he gave the right to be called children of God!
A child of God is free! Hear the proclamation, in Christ; we are free, totally, honestly, completely free! We’re no longer bound by Satan! We’re really, truly free!
Preaching not only sets people free, it opens the eyes of their heart. Time and time again, in the scriptures, God appears and he is seen by people. But it is not as though God physically appears, but rather, he appears in His Word, in His Word proclaimed! People, when they hear true Godly preaching, they have the eyes of their hearts opened.
Jesus came, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to open people’s hearts! That they may see Jesus, really see him, see him with their hearts. Know him, love him, serve him! Do you know Jesus? Do you love Jesus? Does any of this sound familiar? Have your eyes been opened? Have the eyes of your heart been opened through the preached word of God?
I hope so!
Jesus came to release the oppressed. There are people who are burdened. They are burdened, not simply by the weight of pressure from society, the lack of essential things, the destitution from being unable to work, or what have you. But rather people are burdened by sin; they are weighed down by guilt. They don’t know joy, happiness or anything. Their spirits are just down.
Jesus has come to release them. If you are feeling like the weight of the world is on your shoulders, then turn to Christ. Jesus says, come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden. Those who have burdens that are too much to bear. Lay them on me, says Jesus. Take up my yoke, my work. My burden is light, my work is easy. my work brings joy, it puts a spring in your step. Why? Because Satan can’t touch you. He’s got nothing on you. How can you be considered guilty when you are bathed in Christ’s righteousness?
In Christ we are free! We are righteous, we are pure, and we are holy. These things are already done for us, in Christ. That’s our identity! We’re spiritual, we’re God’s children!
We are living in the year of God’s favour. This year of favour will last until the day of Judgement. Isaiah talked about that day, but Jesus didn’t mention it. Why? Because it hasn’t come yet. In Isaiah’s day, a small day of Judgement was coming, the exile. But the day, the final day of judgement has not yet come. All people are still in God’s grace, God’s favour.
Do you believe it? Do you believe in Jesus? Do you know what he offers to you? Do you know what you have in Christ? Are you trusting in Him?
On this Pentecost Sunday, have you confessed your sin? Have you repented, as Peter called the people to repent? Have you heard the gospel of Jesus Christ? Have you dedicated your life to Serving the King, submitting to the Prophet’s preaching, calling on the atoning work of the great High Priest?
Do you believe that what the Bible says about Jesus is true? Look a bit ahead in the chapter in Luke. What does Jesus immediately do? He sets a prisoner free; a man tormented by a demon. Jesus set him free. Then he went to heal Simon’s mother-in-law. When Jesus said, “today this is fulfilled in your hearing.” He wasn’t kidding. People really were set free and healed. And that hasn’t stopped. Because of Jesus ascension, he sent us his Holy Spirit, so that, empowered by the Spirit; we may continue the work of Jesus Christ.
Let us not neglect the poor and the persecuted. But let us also not forget that Jesus ministry was not only meeting physical needs, but also meeting spiritual needs. In fact, the outward healings were the result of the inward spiritual healings. Does this mean that if we accept Jesus we’ll have health and wealth? Not at all. The outward miracles happened in those days to bear witness to the glory of God in Christ. It happened for the disciples to show that the glory of Christ was in them, that their message had authority and was true.
The treasures of this world are temporary. The sufferings of this world are temporary. We’ve already received, through God’s grace, our eternal reward! What are you waiting for? It’s Pentecost. We have the Spirit, let’s get out there and preach the Gospel of Christ! Amen.