“The Spirit of the Lord God is on Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to the prisoners…” (Isaiah 61:1 HCSB)
A group of deacons were complaining about their preacher. Here is a letter they received:
“Dear Board of Deacons, This is a chain letter. The result of a computerized survey indicates that the perfect preacher:
- Preaches 15 minutes
- Condemns sin; but never offends anyone
- Works from 8 till midnight including janitorial work
- Makes $60 per week, wears good clothes, buys good books, drives a good car and gives $50 per week to the poor
- Is 28 years old and has been preaching for 30 years
- Wonderfully, perfectly handsome
- Has a burning desire to work with teenagers but spends all his time with the older folk
- Smiles with a straight face because his sense of humor keeps him seriously dedicated to his work.
- He makes 15 calls per day on church family, shut-ins, hospitalized, while evangelizing the lost
- He is always in his office when needed.
If your preacher does not measure up to this chain letter, send this letter to six other churches who also are tired of their preacher. Bundle up your preacher and send him to the church at the top of the list. In one year you will receive 1,643 preachers. One of them should be perfect.
WARNING: Keep this letter going. One church broke the chain and got their old preacher back in six months.”
I am not a perfect preacher. Based on these criteria, there are none. But, according to God’s standard—and that’s what matters—there is One. His name is Jesus.
When our Lord went into the synagogue of Capernaum and preached His first recorded sermon, He unrolled the scroll and took Isaiah 61 as His text. He declared that this was fulfilled by Him. The prediction of a perfect Preacher had come to pass (read Luke 4:16-30).
He was ANOINTED BY GOD.
“The Spirit of the Lord God is on Me, because the Lord has anointed Me…” (Isaiah 61:1a HCSB)
In the Old Testament, prophets, priests and kings were anointed with oil, setting them apart for their sacred service. Oil is symbolic of the Holy Spirit. Jesus fulfilled all those sacred offices as Christ—the Messiah—literally, “the Anointed One.” He was anointed by God to feed the flock of God the Word of God as their Prophet. He was anointed by God to bleed for the flock of God as their Priest offering Himself as the sacrifice for their sins. He was anointed by God as their King to lead the flock of God—to protect and provide for them under His rule.
He was APPOINTED BY GOD.
“to bring good news to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor, and the day of our God's vengeance; to comfort all who mourn, to provide for those who mourn in Zion; to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, festive oil instead of mourning, and splendid clothes instead of despair. And they will be called righteous trees, planted by the Lord to glorify Him.” (Isaiah 61:1b-3 HCSB)
Isaiah foretold that Jesus had been appointed to a three-fold task. Jesus lived under the Divine mandate of having been “sent” into the world to do His Father’s will.
Jesus had been appointed as preacher so THE SINFUL WOULD HAVE GRACIOUS HOPE.
““to bring good news to the poor.” (Isa.61:b)
Certainly those who were materially impoverished were eager to hear Him. Their desperation drove them to His compassion. Since earth held little promise for them, they were very open to hear of the hope of heaven.
But, spiritually, every man and woman, regardless of their socio-economic status, are morally bankrupt. Destitute of righteousness, debtors to sin, they pay the price in everlasting fire unless someone settles the debt.
Jesus said, “I have good news!” His preaching told them that was why He had come! The riches of His grace are available! Forgiveness of sin is possible! “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost." (Luke 19:10)
Jesus had been appointed as physician so THE SORROWFUL WOULD HAVE GRIEF HEALED.
“He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted…” (Isa.61:1c)
Death is a result of sin’s curse. All humanity is subject to it. Before this day is out, across this wide world, there will be a million or more people who gather at a grave to grieve. We all know the pain of a broken heart. Jesus came to end that grief. He has the cure of sin and death. The Great Physician gives us the comforting promise of eternal life through faith in Him.
Jesus had been appointed as purchaser so THE SLAVES WOULD HAVE GREAT HELP.
“to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor…” (Isa.61:1d-2a)
Jesus was speaking about the year of Jubilee. Under Mosaic law, the end of the cycle of seven sabbatical years (49 years) would culminate in the Year of Jubilee—the fiftieth year being a time for debt to be forgiven and slaves to be freed.
The fundamental enslavement is to sin. We are held in its bondage. But, Jesus came into the slave market of sin and purchased us. He redeemed us with the payment of His blood and set us free! Jesus is our Jubilee.
This is what the perfect Preacher had to say.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a perfect Preacher? Apparently not—the congregation tried to kill Him—their violent reaction to His sermon! People are not content with even a perfect Preacher! In fact, the more holy His life and the more faithful His preaching, the more despised he may be. Most folks don’t like to be confronted by their sin. It is an uncomfortable thing. If they don’t agree with the message, they will attack the messenger.
This helps explain why Christ would stop His Scripture reading in the middle of a verse. His first advent would lead to His rejection and the hateful hands of those who heard Him, would eventually hand Him over to be crucified. They sought to silence Him after only one sermon by casting Him off a cliff! He would not die that day in Nazareth—it was not the time, nor the way—but He would, in a little over three years, die on Calvary. This was His first advent—appointed as a sacrifice for sinners.
The remainder of the verse (and subsequent verses) points to His second advent.
“and the day of our God's vengeance; to comfort all who mourn, to provide for those who mourn in Zion; to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, festive oil instead of mourning, and splendid clothes instead of despair. And they will be called righteous trees, planted by the Lord to glorify Him. They will rebuild the ancient ruins; they will restore the former devastations; they will renew the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations. Strangers will stand and feed your flocks, and foreigners will be your plowmen and vinedressers. But you will be called the Lord's priests; they will speak of you as ministers of our God; you will eat the wealth of the nations, and you will boast in their riches.
Because your shame was double, and they cried out, ‘Disgrace is their portion,’ therefore, they will possess double in their land, and eternal joy will be theirs.
For I the Lord love justice; I hate robbery and injustice; I will faithfully reward them and make an everlasting covenant with them.
Their descendants will be known among the nations, and their posterity among the peoples. All who see them will recognize that they are a people the Lord has blessed.
I greatly rejoice in the Lord, I exult in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation and wrapped me in a robe of righteousness, as a groom wears a turban and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the earth produces its growth, and as a garden enables what is sown to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.” (Isaiah 61:2b-11 HCSB)
When Christ returns He comes to judge the world and establish His kingdom. Israel will be redeemed and through them all the earth will be blessed. They will finally fulfill their destiny as a Kingdom of Priests who will teach all humanity the ways of God. How we long for that day! As surely as the first part of the prophecy was fulfilled by Jesus, the latter portion will be as well. Count on it!
As Israel is called to be an extension of Christ’s anointed priesthood, so are we. Peter describes the church this way:
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9 HCSB)
Jesus is our model. He said, “’As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’ After saying this, He breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” (John 20:21b-22 HCSB) We are appointed to the same service and anointed by the same Spirit! We will not always do it perfectly, but our goal is to do it better progressively. God’s Spirit will equip us powerfully!
Do you know any sinners who need to hear the good news of forgiveness?
Do you know any sorrowing needing a broken-heart healed by love?
Do you know any slaves, who are in bondage to sin, enslaved by alcohol, drugs, promiscuity, fear, greed and such who need freedom from these vices?
Sure, you do. We all do. They are everywhere.
Jesus is in us, waiting to continue His work through His body, the church. Let’s get busy!