Text: Isaiah 61 (Read it here.)
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim 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
(Isaiah 61.1-2a, NIV)
The Year of the Lord’s Favor
Author: Rob Anderson
How much of our life is spent trying to get ahead? How much energy do we spend trying to “finish strong?” And just what is our reaction when the bottom drops out or the wheels fall off the wagon and instead of a great finish, we feebly cross the line at the end of the race, the crowds already gone, nothing left but the clean up crew putting away banners and picking up trash.
Maybe that seems like a stretch, but look around. How many people are dealing with the loss of a loved one? Know anyone who has a child that has made poor choices and now the entire family is dealing with the consequences? How about someone dealing with the realization that “job security” is nice in theory, but in reality—or more importantly in experience—there is no such thing?
So what do we do? Determine grief is for those who are weak? Sign up for parenting classes, or at the very least, a “How to be a better child” seminar? Search for that better job, more aligned with your skill set and without so many nincompoops for bosses? Because surely, we can fix this problem, right? Maybe we just didn’t try hard enough the last time and after the pain we suffered, you can bet we won’t make the same mistake twice.
In the midst of our struggles, the Lord reminds us of this: His anointed one has proclaimed the year of the Lord’s favor. Notice who is the beneficiaries of such a proclamation: the poor, the brokenhearted, the captives, and the prisoners. I do not think it is a stretch to add the grieving, the lousy-feeling parents, and the unemployed. You probably can add even more to this list with just a little bit of thought.
It is interesting that when Jesus comes along, he quotes this passage as a sort of mission statement (see Luke 4.14-30). He is the anointed one that fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah 61. As he goes about his life, he is giving people good news, freedom, release from darkness, and a proclamation of the year of Gods favor.
Today, no matter how bad your life may seem to the contrary, you live in the reality that the Lord has proclaimed freedom and salvation for you. It is no wonder the prophet goes on to say: “I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God” (Is. 61.10). Today is a day for delight!
The prophet Isaiah lists several things that the Lord will do for people who are marginalized. What are those things? After reading this list of things, what sort of reaction do you have to the things God is doing among these people?
If you were going to rewrite this list in today’s terms, what sort of things would go on your modernized list? In what ways have you seen God at work in the lives of people who are marginalized today?
How have you specifically or the small group you are a part of or the church in which you are involved addressed some of the needs of those around you who are marginalized? In what ways can you do this more?