Isaiah 61 - Notes
Jesus is the Head of His Church
Chapter 60 was about the kingdom of Christ and the rule of His church. Chapter 61 is about the head of His church and His kingdom who is Christ Himself. This text is the text of Christ’s first sermon which is recorded in Luke 4:18. This text is fulfilled at that time. It answers: Who is the Christ? What are His tasks? The Romans teach Christ as a stern judge. The Evangelicals teach Christ as a kind friend.
1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
Christ is not flesh whereas all people are flesh (Genesis 6:3 - My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh). The Holy Spirit is upon Christ. Christ does not come because He wills it, but He is sent by the Father.
because the LORD has anointed me
From anointed we get the Hebrew word Messiah and the Greek word Christ. Both Messiah and Christ mean anointed. Jesus is anointed by someone before He comes to us. This is a spiritual anointing by the Father with the Holy Spirit. It is not physical. Jesus will not come armed or wealthy.
to bring good news
Who is Christ? He is a servant, messenger, an apostle (which means Sent). The Preacher. The Evangelist. He is the One who is the bringer of God’s Word.
to the poor;
The afflicted ones. In the Scriptures, the poor/afflicted are the poor and distress. The Hopeless. Matthew 11:5, the poor have good news preached to them.
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;
This is what Christ does…He is not a judge or a teacher of the Law, but He does the opposite: He heals, He consoles, He frees us from these evils (1 Corinthians 15:56 depicts the three wounds - Law, sin, and death). Luther - The deliverance from these afflictions, I say, is ours through Christ, but in this respect, there is a deficiency, that we cannot believe these words. We think heaven is filled with our sins, with the Law and death. Therefore these words must be carefully weighed. In them, we should see life, salvation, and deliverance. This will not come to pass in this life. By faith, we shall only see that the matter has been begun, not that it is completed.
2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn;
Luther - The LORD calls the New Testament the year of the Lord’s favor and a year of the Lord’s will. On the contrary, the day of vengeance of God is called terrible. It is a great art rightly to divide the Word, to proclaim a hard message to the hard and a soft and gentle one to the afflicted.
3 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.
Let us be content with Christ crucified as St. Paul and many others preach. Let us not speculate on the glory of God (what can be seen) like the pope, mega-church leaders, and Mohammed do. We speculate when we want answers to questions like: Why does the Lord let so many Muslims live and Christians die? Or, Why me? Let us start thinking about Christ while He is crying in the manger and then work our way to His passion rather than the other way around. Then we will know He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).
4 They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.
The ancient ruins are referring to the synagogues and places of worship throughout Israel. They will have come to spiritual ruin. Therefore the cities will not have God’s Word proclaimed and taught. No opportunity to believe if the office of the Word is devastated.
5 Strangers shall stand and tend your flocks; foreigners shall be your plowmen and vinedressers;
The Lord will place Gentiles into the Office of the Word. They shall raise up a new flock and tend to it.
6 but you shall be called the priests of the LORD; they shall speak of you as the ministers of our God; you shall eat the wealth of the nations, and in their glory you shall boast.
Those in the Office of the Word are not priests in the way we understand a priest as one who offers sacrifices to the Lord. Rather, they sacrifice their own will for the benefit of the people with God’s Word. Minister means servant. The wealth of nations here is the Word of God that the Lord is giving by placing His office in all the devastated towns. The glory is the return - people convert to the Lord, even kings, and leaders.
7 Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot; therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion; they shall have everlasting joy.
The double portion is double the glory. The lots are the cities and the churches, as Our Savior Lutheran Church is one lot in the city of Muscatine. The other lot is under the tyranny of powerful people. Yet, the glory is that even some of them will repent and believe. Then they will say things like, “I was such a fool. I can’t believe I ever did that to you.” Like St. Paul after his conversion on the road to Damascus.
8 For I the LORD love justice; I hate robbery and wrong; I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
Since the Lord loves justice there is no need to become a justice warrior. He will accomplish everlasting justice. Today there is a big push for social justice. Here He says, live your life to better your neighbor, but justice and vengeance are His. He will faithfully accomplish it. The rest is pure promises and words for comfort.
9 Their offspring shall be known among the nations, and their descendants in the midst of the peoples; all who see them shall acknowledge them, that they are an offspring the LORD has blessed.
This offspring is the church whom the Lord blesses and the nations recognize.
10 I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
Again the double portion. Temporal within the church (and maybe outside at times) and Eternal.
11 For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations.
To believe in Jesus is to sprout righteousness. Speaking is to build the church and convert people. This is the double glory. The Word is the seed and it produces fruit.