Last night we began the new year by looking at Isaiah 61:1-4 and some related passages. Here are the notes:
One of the most important parts of the prophet Isaiah’s message is that God’s ultimate solution to the world’s problems is one Man, anointed by the Spirit, who comes with the love and wisdom and power necessary to do this for every broken person, and to rule the world so that every broken down thing (that should be restored) will be restored.
Now, if you’re familiar with the Bible you know that pone of the most surprising things Jesus did was that, early in his public life, he claimed to be this person. [See Luke 4:14-21.] Once you see this, I think it becomes obvious why people who follow Jesus would be all about telling people about Jesus, especially people who are on this list of exactly the kind of people Jesus came to help.
The quick answer to the world’s problems is simple—Jesus.
But after he was risen from the dead, and he was teaching his followers about the role they were going to play now that he was going to return to his father, he sort of flipped the script a little… See…
- Luke 24:46-49 (Jesus promises a similar experience for us—“the Spirit upon us.”)
- Matt 28:18-20 (“Teach them to observe what I’ve commanded you.”)
- Acts 1:7-8 (We become witnesses to the Anointed One…and…we become like him…in that we get the same source of power he had and begin to do the same work he did.)
So as Jesus was leaving for a time, he told his followers that the only way we’re really going to be able to point people to him is by relying on the enabling of the Holy Spirit, who is of course the same Spirit Isaiah says anointed Jesus, and the Spirit of God will enable his followers to go spread the message about him…and then we can be able to enter into the work he did.
In that sense, we can read Isaiah 61, and we can begin to see how it applies to us.
God anoints us, that is, he sets us apart for a special service by filling us with His Spirit, so that we’re able to:
- Bring good news to people who lack resources to fix their life
- Help broken hearted people heal
- Proclaim new liberty to people who are caught in or imprisoned by something
- Comfort people who are mourning
In fact, if you look at 61:3, God’s solution in individual’s lives is so effective that these people who before were without resources, inwardly broken, lacking freedom, debilitated by loss, they become “oaks of righteousness”—
This biblical idea of “righteousness” is when justice is done and everyone is taken care of. It’s when God, who is the source of all righteousness, is known and worshipped by everyone, so everywhere you go is full of his life-giving, personal presence, so no one oppresses anyone, everyone has everything they need, children are raised to flourish and everyone is nurtured to health and strength and no one ever conquers or oppresses or invades or steals and everyone is safe and everywhere is safe. When Jesus reigns this will happen globally. It will be a world of righteousness. We don’t expect it on any large scale until then. …But, we do expect it in people’s personal lives, in families, and even in communities of people who give their lives to following Jesus. We experience it in our own personal lives.
And this is exactly what you get in verse 4—the people who used to be messed up themselves become the kind of people who rebuild things that have been ruined for a long time.
In other words, the way God deals with ruined things is to find and heal ruined people, to heal them, and then work through them to heal and restore what’s wrong with the world.
Which means, as we look out at the world, and think about all the broken things there are out there—or, maybe just thinking about the people in our lives, and the people we run into and move past all day long in public places—what should we think be thinking about?
It’s super easy to get discouraged, or feel like the problems in the world are too big. Or even the just the problems one friend has—that can be overwhelming. And that can make us want to retreat—you know just get through my day and worry about myself and my own stuff. “There’s nothing we can do for people.” Jesus said that the fact that the world is so messed up would make people’s love (their agape) grown cold (Matthew 24:12).
But a Christian is someone who is learning to think other thoughts—like we’re learning to think things like—Jesus can do this. They just need to get to know Jesus. Jesus can heal this. Jesus can fix this. No matter how broken someone is, give God time to work in their life and they can become an oak of righteousness.
So how do we “get our friends to Jesus”? It’s right here: The empowering of God’s Holy Spirit to send us to people that are sad and broken and bound and communicate to them about the only one who can help them.
And then it’s the Spirit who speaks right into people’s hearts and brings Jesus to them. And Jesus is the only one who can set them free and heal them and lift their spirits.
So, in 2017, let’s not let the state of the world make us retreat from the world. Let’s seek the Lord for the empowering of the Holy Spirit, and then let’s step out in faith to tell the hurting, broken and bound up people in our lives and all around us about the One who can free them. [We finished the night by reading Isaiah 59:1-60:9 & 60:17-22.]