Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Was this Jesus' "mission statement?" (part 2 of 2)

The Word for today:
Isaiah 63:7 - 64:12

 mark this: Isaiah 61:1-2 --
"The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,

to comfort all who mourn."

[In the spirit of Bible adventure, in the realm of conjecture and well-studied speculation, "Stand in the Rain" takes up where it left off yesterday. Today we will show the pivotal placement of Isaiah 61:1-2 in the Bible and in the life of Jesus. We will look into the New Testament to see how Jesus launched his public ministry with the proclamation of these verses.]

The young Jesus read of the glory of the coming Christ in passages like Isaiah 60; on the other hand, he read the suffering of Christ in passages like Isaiah 53.

Even the prophets couldn’t reconcile these things, as Peter would later explain:
"Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow." (1 Peter 1:10-11)

From a great distance, mountain peaks can appear close together, when in fact a great valley lies between them. The prophets could not always see the valley—the interval of time—between events. Isaiah 61:2 worked the first coming and the second coming of Jesus Christ into one verse, separated by just an ‘and.’

But there came a day when, right in front of his eyes, the foreground and the background became distinct from one another: there would be one Christ who would arrive twice. With that understanding, the Bible in Jesus' eyes became whole cloth, seamless and integrated. Everything fit together now, with no loose strands.

Soon after the beginning of his ministry, he found himself in Nazareth again. Wistfully, he revealed his identity to the people of his hometown with the same verse God used to clarify his identity to himself:

And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." (Luke 4:16-21)

He'd stopped in mid-verse, just before 'and.'

A day of vengeance on the plains of Megiddo would wait in the background. In the foreground stood the awful grace of Mount Calvary.

First things first.



  1. And people talk of making grand entrances ... wow, Jesus takes the cake ... Somehow "I'm ready for my close-up" uttered by some aging silent screen diva falls flat / Take this old world and give me Jesus ...

  2. Bob!--

    It's amazing that you put Hollywood in there. I have always thought the same--that with all their sound, and technicolor, and Imax (if that's how it's spelled), their stars, special effects, 3-D, key grippers, best boys, producers, rewrites, and 10,000 re-takes--that they have never touched that scene. It just sits there, on paper no less, taunting all the writers and actors through time to top it.

    Good luck with that.

    There's no 'miracle' in it either. Just one guy with more moral weight than the rest of the universe combined.

    I also think there's a hint here about God's chosen medium--paper and ink. Besides being cheap, portable, and easily distributed, it just might be that in some sensory way we haven't even named, print is more multi-dimensionally 'graphic' than what we call audio and video.

    There may be senses in us--not ears or eyes--that we haven't identified; that only paper and pen reach. The Bible hints at those senses in the prayer (Eph. 1:18) "that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you..."
    It's always a delight to hear from you. Let's never forget that it's
    "Five for the symbols at your door;
    four for the gospel makers;
    three, three, the rivals..."