August 11 – Isaiah 61:1-4
Throughout Isaiah we see passages like this, where Isaiah the prophet speaks as the Messiah. The most famous examples of these are the Servant Songs from Isaiah 42, 49, 50, and 52, which are often quoted in their clear references to Jesus, like, “He was pierced for our transgressions.” (Isa. 53:5) But our passage for this week. Isaiah 61:1-4, has a unique tie to Jesus in his own right; Jesus himself read it in the synagogue, saying, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Considering this passage is so overt in its Messianic origin, this was one of those moments where Jesus so plainly declared himself to be the Messiah. No wonder his audience tried to stone him only a few verses later.
But for us, back in Isaiah 61, we see the promise given that will ultimately be fulfilled by Jesus. This promise mirrors the Kingdom of God in its already-but-not-yet state; Jesus has already brought good news to the poor, bound up the brokenhearted, and proclaimed liberty to the captives in that he has saved people and continues to save people. And yet the true fulfillment of these promises will be experienced in the coming Kingdom, when Jesus returns and erases all poverty, brokenheartedness, and captivity entirely. The good news of the gospel is good now and, dare I say, even better news on that day for those who believe.
And check out how Isaiah 61 includes us in this amazing work now. Jesus binds, heals, and liberates us, and then we’re the ones building up the ancient ruins and raising up the devastations in verse 4. Jesus has restored us so that we can go into the world as agents of restoration. This is 2 Cor. 5:18-21: we’ve been reconciled to God through Christ and have become ambassadors of reconciliation. Looking back at Isaiah 61:3 we see the purpose of all of this: that God may be glorified.
Questions for Discussion
• Can someone read Isaiah 61:1-4 for us?
• What stands out to you from the passage?
• What can this passage tell us about God’s desires for people?
• Jesus quotes this very passage in Luke 4:18-19. How can our passage in Isaiah help us understand who Jesus is?
• How have you experienced Jesus doing these things with you?
• Check out verse 4. How do we get to participate in God’s work here?