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Monday, December 18, 2017

Day 17: The Song of the Messiah

Today's Scripture Reading: Isaiah 61

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
    he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
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 favor,
    and the day of vengeance of our God;
    to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
    to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
    the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
    the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified. - Isaiah 61:1-3, ESV

The Song of the Messiah

What prophetic passage did Jesus see as describing Himself and His mission best? Well, we may not be able to give a definitive and irrefutable answer to that question, but when Jesus launched His public earthly ministry in Nazareth, as recorded in Luke 4:16-30, He read Isaiah 61. So today's passage has a special place as The Song of the Messiah. The word translated "anointed" in verse 1 is the Hebrew word Mashach, or Messiah.

Jesus read Isaiah 61 to an expectant synagogue gathering in Nazareth, where He had grown up and was well known. It was on the streets of Nazareth that Luke tells us Jesus "grew and became strong, filled with wisdom" and He "increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man." (see 2:40 & 52) 

When Jesus finished reading from Isaiah 61, He closed the Torah scroll, sat down, and said "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." This was not well received. Jesus had a good reputation, but how could the local carpenter's son be the fulfillment of Isaiah prophetic words?

Yet we know Jesus was indeed the fulfillment of Isaiah 61. He was the long-awaited Anointed One. So let's consider what He said He came to do:

1. He came to preach good news to the poor. Jesus did not come to prop up the egos of the rich and powerful. He came to proclaim the Gospel of the kingdom of God to those who had been excluded and marginalized by the world's kingdoms. The Pharisees had added many requirements to the Law, which only the wealthy could reasonably fulfill. Jesus came to open the gates of the kingdom to all who believe, welcoming all who come by faith in Him. 

2. He came to bind up the brokenhearted. Sin and suffering break many hearts in this world. Jesus came to bind up the wounded hearts, bringing healing to those who have been broken. He did this by bearing our suffering and brokenness in His body on the cross, healing us by His wounds. 

3.  He came to proclaim liberty to the captives. Sin doesn't just break our hearts; it also enslaves us. Satan holds us in bondage to the fear of death, as our guilty consciences condemn us before God's holy Law. Jesus breaks the chains of condemnation and the enslaving power of sin through His victory over sin at the cross and His victory over death in the empty tomb. 

4. He came to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor. Jesus' coming brings God's favor to His people. As Jesus fulfills all righteousness and takes the punishment we deserve, He brings the sunshine of God's favor and the fulfillment of God's blessing for us. Because of all that Jesus came and did, the Aaronic blessing falls upon all of us who trust in Him - 

The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.  -Numbers 6:24-26, ESV 

Have you believed in Jesus and received the good news of what He came to bring? Or are you still walking in the brokenness, imprisonment and condemnation Jesus came to undo? Too many people have missed the joyful freedom, healing and blessing of Jesus' coming. Let's walk by faith this Christmas in the work of our Messiah! 

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