In this sermon Victoria preaches through Isaiah 61:1-2, where the Israelites find out what will happen when Jesus comes, how he brings a new beginning to us through the spiritual year of Jubilee and how we can join God in bringing freedom and light to the world!
Sermon preached by Victoria Giovanelli on Sunday December 12, 2021.
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Some things I have loved about the Isaiah series…
- Learning about the history of Israel at this time.
- About God’s unending faithfulness to his people despite our struggles with faithfulness
- The rich portraits of Christ echoed through words written hundreds of years before his arrival.
- This series has been so rich.
Today where Isaiah finishes off, Jesus begins.
This section of Isaiah is believed to be written 550 years before the coming of Christ, so let’s take a trip back in time today.
Isaiah 61 begins “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me…” let’s pause right there for a moment.
God’s anointing rests upon him, what does that mean?
Ceremonial anointing in the Old Testament was a physical act involving the smearing, rubbing, or pouring of sacred oil on someone’s head as an outward symbol that God had chosen and set apart the person for a specific holy purpose.
- While David was still a young shepherd, God told Samuel to anoint him to become king over Israel (1 Samuel 16:3). From that day forward, the Spirit of the Lord rested powerfully upon David’s life (1 Samuel 16:13; Psalm 89:20).
- Centuries before David’s time, the Lord had instructed Moses to consecrate Aaron and his sons to serve as priests (Exodus 28:41; 30:30; Leviticus 8:30; 10:7). God authenticated their priestly ministry with the fiery glory of His presence that consumed their offerings.
And there are many other examples in the OT scripture of anointing as a symbol of being set apart and consecrated by God for Holy and divine purpose.
In the New Testament, Jesus Christ reveals Himself as our anointed King, Priest, and Prophet. He is God’s Holy and chosen Son, the Messiah. In fact, Messiah, literally means “anointed one”.
So here we have in Isaiah 61 the promise of one who will come, a description of the coming Messiah, one whom the Spirit of the Lord is upon, who is anointed, set apart and consecrated for divine purpose.
If that Messiah suddenly showed up in the room, in the flesh, what would you do? How does Jesus embody this prophesy? Because it wasn’t necessarily how the Jewish people expected.
Firstly, let’s look at what this passage in Isaiah prophesies about the coming Messiah, alongside how Jesus embodies it…
First of all He has come to proclaim good news to the poor (humble, afflicted, meek)
- We read in Matt 9:13 Jesus came not to call the righteous but those who were afflicted, and some of the righteous were upset by this.
- But are we all not afflicted by sin in our human experience? He came with good news for the afflicted, for the sinner.
- His message is one of forgiveness, hope and restoration.
- He teaches us what the kingdom of God is like.
- Jesus message was surely one of good news.
He came to bind up the brokenhearted
- Jesus takes the broken pieces of our hearts and puts them together again.
- I have experienced this so personally in my own life
- The reckoning of Christ’s sacrifice and love is so powerful it can heal the deepest parts of our souls. His love is true and real and deeply powerful.
- The scriptures say he will take our heart of stone and give us a heart of flesh.
Jesus came to proclaim freedom for the captives
- the paradox of sin is that it brings you into bondage under the guise of giving you freedom, but it is not true freedom.
- In Christ we are no longer slaves to sin, but we are made truly alive.
- Some scholars believe that this particular portion of the verse refers as well to the ministry of Christ to those who had died before He came. Paul tells us that He who has ascended is the same One who first of all descended into the lower parts of the earth. And when He ascended, He led the captives from their captivity. You see, from the time even before Abraham, there were those men of the Old Testament who were accounted righteous because of their faith in God. And they too were waiting for the promises of God.
- Hebrews 11 tells us that “they all died in faith, not having received the promise, but seeing it afar off, they embraced it”.
- So we are told by Peter that when Jesus died He descended into hell. He tells us the purpose of His going there, to preach to those souls that were in prison that one time were disobedient. But they believed and trusted in God.
- And Matthew’s gospel, chapter 27, tells us that when He arose from the dead, many of the graves of the saints were open and they were seen walking in the streets of Jerusalem after His resurrection from the dead. How insane would that have been.
- You see death is a prison that cannot hold those who have received the gift of eternal life that Christ offers us. I have come face to face with the experience of death and looking that cage in the eye, and I can honestly tell you because of Christ I had no fear whatsoever, but complete peace and assurance of my salvation in him.
- Jesus said in Matt 25:25 “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live.”
Isaiah also says, He came to release us from darkness
- As Tim spoke last week Jesus is the light of the world
- In the light of Christ darkness flees and is conquered
- He delivers us not just from our sins but the forces of spiritual darkness that come against us in this world.
When the Messiah shows up in the flesh…
- Jesus comes preaching good news to the poor and afflicted. He preaches forgiveness for our sins, reconciliation with God and hope in eternal life.
- Jesus binds up the brokenhearted. His love restores dignity to people, especially the outcast, he heals the deepest places of our hearts and inner wounds. I’ll never get tired of seeing Jesus show up in times of prayer ministry and heal hearts.
- Jesus brings freedom for the captives, freedom from the curse of sin once and for all, freedom from death, for all who receive it.
- He delivers us from darkness and as John says In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
This is what happens when Jesus arrives in the room. This prophecy in Isaiah comes to life and is unleashed through Christ.
Jesus then goes on to make a proclamation – the year of the Lord’s favour or also referred to as the year of Jubilee.
What was the year of Jubilee? Well I am so glad you asked.
- The Year of Jubilee, designed by God, came every 50th year, was a year full of releasing people from their debts, releasing all slaves, and returning property to those who owned it. (Leviticus 25:1-13).
- This year was also dedicated to rest and acknowledging that God would provide for the needs of his people.
- Imagine if we experienced a real jubilee today? I wonder if you’d be happy about that or not? All the banks cancelling our debts would be nice!
- Jubilee basically equalised the economy, nourished the land or environment and ironed out all the inequality for the poor – they were given a fresh start every generation and I can’t help but wonder how it must have restored their identity and value in society.
- Jubilee also stopped work from becoming an idol
- It caused people to acknowledge that all they had belonged to the Lord and they were simply stewards of it.
So when Jesus announces this is the year of the Lord’s favour, this is the year of Jubilee he is actually saying so much more…
- What greater provision is there than that which is fulfilled through Jesus Christ?
- You see Jesus himself is the fulfillment of Jubliee
Merryl Blair puts it like this “When Jesus says ‘today this scripture has been fulfilled’, he’s saying not just every 50 years, not just every seventh year, but every now, every today.”
Melody Murton from Tearfund Australia “The essence of Jubilee is God’s inspired vision to interrupt the status quo. A reset, embedded in the way of life for God’s redeemed and liberated people, emphasising the relationships between humanity, creation and God.”
Jesus showed up and interrupted the status quo. It was the greatest new beginning of all time. And through it we are to be reminded of our liberation spiritually once and for all by Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.
Ok so in Luke Chapter 4 is where Jesus quotes this passage from Isaiah. Let’s shift gears and dive into this story for a moment…
In Luke Chapter 4 Jesus begins his public ministry by quoting this passage. He has just returned from the temptation in the wilderness…
Chapter 4 begins saying Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit, and led by the Spirit into the wilderness. There he is tempted by Satan but overcomes every temptation. And as he returns it says (verse 14), “Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through all the surrounding district. And he began teaching in their synagogues and was praised by all.”
Can I just note he entered the wilderness full of the Spirit and as he overcame temptation he returned empowered by the Spirit. As we overcome spiritual challenges in this life there is an authority that is revealed, an empowering that becomes evident in the overcoming.And we as believers have that same privilege of being filled with the Holy Spirit. Being led by the Holy Spirit, and being empowered by the Holy Spirit, it’s amazing… but another sermon entirely.
Jesus arrives in Nazareth where he was brought up, so they know him well. He enters the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read, as Rabbis of the time did. The book of Isaiah was handed to him, he opens the scroll and finds this passage, he reads just this short part out loud that we have unpacked.
Where He stops reading is significant, in doing so he divides history in half. The messianic expectation by the Jews was that God would do it all at once, but Jesus stops where he does purposefully at the year of Jubilee.
Message version puts this verse beautifully as God sent me to announce the year of his grace.
We are living in an unpreceded time of God’s grace still, do not let it pass you by.
Then Jesus hands Isaiah back to the attendant. The scriptures say “everyone’s eyes were fixed on him” and Jesus says “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
What would you have done? How would you have reacted when Jesus, the Messiah shows up in the room?
He is saying I am the Anointed One, I am the Servant Messiah.
Amazingly by Luke 4:29 the Jews are trying to throw Jesus off a cliff, why? It is historically recorded that the Jews were very nationalistic at the time, there was this idea that the Messiah was on their side alone, that he would conquer Rome for them and make them a victorious nation. That’s how they thought it would go down.
Jesus says in this passage after reading Isaiah some things that upset them.
- He tells them a prophet isn’t welcome in his home town. He is basically saying you haven’t welcomed me here to my home town as the Prophet that I am. That might have been a little offensive…
- Jesus tells two stories from their history, one of Elijah being sent to a widow who wasn’t a Jew. And Elisha only cleansing one leper, although many were present and that leper was Naaman a Syrian, again not a Jew.
They believed salvation was only for the Jews, so they get a little upset with Jesus bringing up these stories in this moment in connection to this passage, and try to throw him off a cliff but how cool is this, Jesus seems to just pass right through them like he is invisible and goes on his way. The bible has some wild stuff in it.
Now later on in Luke’s gospel when John the Baptist began to have questions concerning Jesus, John had been in prison for awhile, and Jesus had not kicked Herod out from the throne and taken over the empire, John sent his disciples to Jesus with the question, “Are you the Messiah, or shall we look for another?” Jesus was showing up in a way the people didn’t fully expect.
And he still does that today. He did not come to overthrow the Roman government but to free them and us from what truly and eternally impacts us – which is sin. He did not come to rewrite the laws of men but by the spirit have the law of God imprinted on our hearts as believers. It is a revolution from within that goes on to change everything else.
He came for your hearts, he did not come to sit upon a political throne, he came to be enthroned upon your hearts and to have eternal communion with you.
In that same hour when John sent this question to Jesus, many came to Jesus who were blind and lame, afflicted by demons. And He healed them. He restored their sight. He set them free. And He said to those disciples of John, “Go back and tell John what you’ve seen. How the blind receive their sight, the lame are walking, lepers are cleansed, and to the poor the gospel is being preached. Blessed is he who does not take offense at me.”
His works testify of who he is. May the Church be a testimony in this hour of the continuing works of Christ.
This is what happens when Jesus shows up in the room.
Now I said Jesus in this moment was dividing history in half. Where He stops reading is significant. The second part of the prophecy in Isaiah denotes the second coming of Christ where there will be a final judgement of mankind – the day of vengeance of our God.
We do experience a taste of these good things listed here in our current era, as the kingdom of God breaks in…. Reading now from Verse 2
to comfort all who mourn,
3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
In this life we still experience many sorrows but we also experience comfort by the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
Once something has turned to ashes you can’t reconstruct it, sometimes our dreams, ambitions, hopes can turn to ashes, yet God can turn ashes into beauty.
We can have experiences of the joy of the Lord:
- Often my husband when he becomes overwhelmed by the presence of God gets uncontrollable giggles, some of you saw that at the John Peters night we had where Tim was just doubled over here at the front of the church giggling and laughing, quite loudly in the joy of the Lord.
- And sometimes we experience this in the stillness, in the quiet of God’s presence. “In His presence is fullness of Joy and at His right hand pleasures forevermore.”
The total fulfilment of God wiping away every tear, of no more pain, or sickness or disease or death will be completed at the dawning of the New Heavens and the New Earth the eternal age to come.
When Jesus shows up again for the second time on earth, there will be a final judgement, but also a glorious new beginning. If you are in the room, how will you respond?
On that note I want to touch on Verse 11 of Isaiah 61 to close:
Verse 11 For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes the things sown in it to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.
These two aspects of righteousness and praise I believe could be a part of end times revivals.
- A revival is an unprecedented outpouring of the presence of God, where heaven and earth collide.
- Righteousness within that can look like waves of repentance, a hunger and increase in value for holiness.
- A desire to be cleansed by the Word of God, and realigned with its truth.
- Often through Revivals we see revelations of God that change the course of biblical understanding
- Salvation by grace not works – Martin Luther 16th Century
- Turn of the 20th century when the Azuza St revival broke out there was a greater understanding of the person of the Holy Spirit
- The Father Heart of God was revealed when the revival in Toronto happened.
- And what I believe could be coming next is a greater revelation of the Son Jesus Christ in all His glory and worship unto him on earth like we have never seen before.
So righteousness and praise, let me tell you…
- Israel’s most prosperous time in history was during David’s 40 year reign where continually worship and praise was set up in Israel. During that time they never lost a battle, and so much more.
- One of David’s last acts as King was to increase the number of worshipers to 288, having twelve for each hour of the day and night, around the clock worshipping. (see I Chronicles 25)
- praise and worship going forth unhindered went on for eighty continuous years, and during that time the Lord did for Israel what they could never accomplish in the natural.
It is part of the reason we run regular worship nights, there is something about the Lord that delights in the sound of our praise, our singing unto him.
May we pray for an awakening of greater moves of righteousness and praise within the church and the people of God.
When Christ shows up again may he see us hungering after holiness and praising him relentlessly.
Jesus sends out his 12 disciples
Matthew 10:7 ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy,[a] drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give
Some of you today need to be launched to go and do the works of Christ, echoing Isaiah 61 through the empowering of the same Holy Spirit upon your lives.
Some of you today need to have an encounter with Christ in this very room today…