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It’s hard to imagine that the Christmas season is already upon us. In the providence of God we have arrived after a 2 year journey and over 90 messages at a most appropriate Christmas text – the opening verses of Isaiah 61. Last week we raced through an entire chapter … this week we will sit and meditate on just a few phrases …

Todd Beall: As Young notes, there is a close relationship between chaps. 60 and 61: chapter 60 described Zion’s exaltation, while chapter 61 describes the One who will accomplish that exaltation and deliverance (3:458). Chaps. 61:1-63:6 form a unit, with the theme of redemption and judgment (“vengeance of our God”) predominate throughout (see 61:1-2; 63:4).

This is one of those telescoping prophetic passages we have mentioned of future events where Isaiah combines in one text a description of what will take place at both the First Coming and the Second Coming of the promised Messiah/Servant. We will see that more clearly in a few minutes where we see the Lord Jesus reading from this passage in the synagogue in his home town in Nazareth as He launches His public ministry.

A very simple outline:



What is involved in bringing good news to the afflicted?


Isaiah has paved the way for this exciting revelation by some prior very clear and detailed descriptions of the anticipated birth of the baby that would be born to a virgin in the little town of Bethlehem and would develop into the one assuming the mantle of the Davidic Kingship who would reign for all eternity in peace and righteousness.

Remember the problem that Isaiah has been describing about the pervasive sin of God’s chosen nation Israel and their need for repentance and forgiveness:

1:18 “’Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the Lord. ‘Thought your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow, though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool.’”

There is a stain and defilement from sin that we cannot possibly erase. The only person who can effectively deal with our sin problem is God Himself – so we need a mediator who can come as God in the flesh to reconcile us to God and accomplish the important work of redemption:

7:14 “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” [very significant name = God with us]

Quite an impressive sign – John 1:14 speaks of the fulfillment of the Word becoming flesh and dwelling with us so that we could see His glory – full of grace and truth

God has a solution to this devastating sin problem – a solution that applies not only to the Jews of Jerusalem but also to the Gentiles of all the nations of the world:

9:1-7 “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them” The Jews stumbled over this promise and wanted the promises of Messiah to only relate to their nation; in their pride they had nothing but contempt for the Gentiles around them

Of course in the last few weeks we have seen the identification of that light as the long awaited Messiah/Servant – the one that John the Baptist would announce and testify to as the Light of the World – but He would become incarnate as a tiny baby born in a stable in Bethlehem:

“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace. On the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.”

Isaiah continued his prophecy with some very dark pronouncements about the way God would discipline His people by the cruel Assyrians invading the northern kingdom and then the Babylonians taking the Jews of the southern kingdom into oppressive captivity for a period of 70 years. They needed to learn that salvation and deliverance could only come from total reliance upon God alone. This is the lesson we continually need to learn and apply in our lives.

So we come to our text for this morning of Christmas week.

Let’s turn over to Luke 4:16-30 to study how the Lord Jesus himself used this passage and proclaimed the fulfillment of the portion that applied to His First Coming.


End of Chap. 3 – vv. 21-22 the important baptism of the Lord Jesus – this is going to be referenced as He talks about being anointed by the Holy Spirit for His public ministry

So that when He comes on the scene He is described as being “full of the Holy Spirit” – 4:1

We see Him successfully passing the test of being tempted by Satan in the wilderness for 40 days and then we come to our text … some ministry events have already occurred and Luke skips over them to get to this incident that took place in His home town of Nazareth – wanting to emphasize that Jesus came not just to bring salvation to the Jews but as a light to all who were in darkness … in fact He came unto His own people and for the most part they did not receive Him and there is going to be a huge transition that culminates in the Apostle Paul being designated the Apostle to the Gentiles

Talk about the providence of God in our coming upon this text for this morning … this was the portion of the prophets that was appointed to be read that very day [they had already had the appointed reading from the law]; not some arbitrarily chosen passage by Jesus

Look at where Jesus stopped in the reading of Isaiah’s text – right in the middle of verse 2!


“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,

Because the Lord has anointed me”

Jesus speaking here

Is. 42:1 “Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations.” – sounds like the baptism of Jesus

All 3 members of the Trinity appear here; very special verses in Scripture where you see the Trinity in action with all 3 members of the Godhood actively participating; God the Father speaking here

Constable: He would need divine enablement by the Spirit to fulfill it (cf. 1 Sam. 10:1, 6-7; 16:3; 2 Sam. 23:1-7; Matt. 3:16-17). This Anointed One would do the Servant’s work.

Oswalt: In Isaiah the Spirit is especially associated with the power to bring justice and righteousness on the earth, often through the spoken word (11:2; 32:15-16; 42:1; 44:3; 48:16; 59:21). Thus it is being said here that the Messiah is particularly marked by the counsel and the power of God. But beyond that, he is anointed by God for his task, and the Spirit filling is because of that anointing. Interesting, the only places in the OT where Spirit filling and anointing are mentioned together are in connection with the establishment of the kingship, first in Saul (1 Sam. 10:1, 6-7), then in David (1 Sam. 16:1-4). The classic statement of this conjunction is found in 2 Sam. 23:1-7, where David hymns the function and role of the Messiah. . . This is the Messiah, and he is being consciously associated with the Servant by showing that the Messiah does the Servant’s work.

The anointed offices:

– Prophet

– Priest

– King

Name Messiah / Christ = the anointed one

Somewhat of a progression in these 3 offices – although Jesus fulfills all 3 of these roles on a perpetual basis

The emphasis in His First Coming in our text for this morning is His prophetic role

As the one promises in Deut. 18:17 Jesus comes to proclaim the Word of the Lord in a way that is unique in terms of His authority and His impact; never a man spoke like this man

His priestly role will be emphasized as He goes to offer Himself on the Cross as our sacrificial lamb and assumes the High priestly function of interceding for us in heaven before the throne of His father even today – His kingly role will be emphasized at His Second Coming as He vanquishes all foes and establishes God’s kingdom on earth in peace and righteousness


“to bring good news to the afflicted;”

Luke 2:9 the angels announce birth of Jesus to the shepherds

Thompson: literally mean in Hebrew to announce or proclaim as a messenger the good news of God

Constable: In other occurrences of this verb, it is the hope of Israel that is in view, specifically deliverance from Babylon and deliverance from sin (cf. 40:9; 41:27; 52:7; 60:6).

Oswalt: He is not only the preacher of the good news but He is the good news. . . Will the Servant/Messiah simply hurl words at the poor? No, for his words will accomplish what they speak of. He will gather up the broken hearts and bandage them together.

John the Baptist brought this message of good news as he preached the coming of the kingdom: Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand –

There is no good news apart from confessing your condition as poor and afflicted and in need of repentance – Matt. 3:1-12

Afflicted = humble – those who acknowledge their condition before God; not the proud and self- righteous and self-sufficient like these religious leaders of Jesus’ day

Rev. 3:17 “Because you say, ‘I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,’ and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked”

Skip forward in Luke 4 to the RESPONSE OF THE CROWD there in Nazareth and then we will return to our third point

Their response mirrors that of much of the world today as this Christmas season arrives – how many people at work this past week did you find expressing hostility and hatred towards Jesus? For the most part they receive Christmas very positively and yet they don’t understand the mission of the Messiah –

Look at the dramatic change in attitude on the part of this crowd as Jesus explains more fully who He is and why He has come …

If the world truly understood Christmas they would be filled with rage and hatred – instead they are lost in the superficiality of Santa Claus and Christmas trees and tinsel and presents and empty songs song by choirs that have no comprehension of the underlying theology of the words

Not a chorus of “Joy to the world” but actually the cry of a lynching mob: “Crucify Him”

Look at how King Herod responded to the announcement of the birth of the promised Messiah:

Matt. 2:16ff

Psalm 2 “Why do the nations rage”

Can’t sit on the fence when it comes to Jesus Christ – you are either with Him or against Him

Matt. 12:30 “He who is not with Me is against Me”

What is involved in bringing good news to the afflicted? Now we come to our third point


A. Healing

“He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,”

42:6b-7 “I will appoint You as a covenant to the people, as a light to the nations, to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners form the dungeon and those who dwell in darkness from the prison.”

Bringing hope to those who have no hope

Parunak: The way to meekness leads through chastisement. The Redeemer brings comfort to those who have experienced God’s hand of discipline. To “bind up” refers to the process of bandaging a wound. God never brings chastisement without also providing the healing that restores, something that was a commonplace with Eliphaz the Temanite, one of Job’s friends:

Job 5:17-18 Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty: 18 For he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole.

Thompson: There are no greater wounds that need to be bound like the wounds of the heart. It is certainly bad to have broken bones but not nearly as bad as having a broken heart. The one who can heal the broken heart is Jesus Christ. He heals the heart that has been broken by guilt. He heals the heart that has been broken by rejection. He heals the heart that has been broken by bereavement or affliction. Jesus Christ came to bind up broken hearts.

B. Deliverance

“To proclaim liberty to captives

and freedom to prisoners;”

Parunak: The first reference to the deliverance is associated with “open the blind eyes” (42:7), and the subsequent references are associated with “darkness.” Early on, Isaiah used blindness as a description of the spiritual insensitivity of Israel, which he imposed as judgment for their sin

(29:10-11, cf. v. 18). Against this background, the “prison” language may be seen as a metaphorical intensification of the “blindness” imagery. We’ll see that our passage supports this qualification. . .

The expression “proclaim liberty” is a direct reference to the Jubilee:

Lev 25:10 And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty קרא דרור throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.

Those who were set free at the jubilee were not captives in a political sense. They were indentured servants and those in debt. Debts were forgiven, and fields that had been sold were restored to their original families. Certainly, this image is appropriate for the return from Babylon, but it is a much broader image of liberation from every form of oppression.

C. Blessing

“To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord”

[“And the day of vengeance of our God”]

Another reference to Jubilee

John Greer: The Jubilee of the King (:1-3)

50th anniversary of the commencement of reign of Queen Elizabeth = Jubilee = anniversary or a time of great joy; also used as a synonym for joy itself; in the Bible has different meaning and usage = 19 of 20 times used in Leviticus – chap. 25 especially – every seventh year was a year of rest for the land; after 7 cycles of those 7 year periods, the next year, the 50th year was appointed as the Jubilee Year; time to celebrate deliverance and liberty – a year of granting deliverance to those who were in various forms of difficulty; not a remembrance of the previous 49 years; a clear gospel application; 61:1-3 are the words of Jesus Christ; speaks of His commission to preach the gospel; good news of a Jubilee; the great gospel Jubilee for lost sinners; the details of Lev. 25 are actually a pointed presentation of the gospel;

I. The Foundation of the Gospel Jubilee = the Atoning Work of Christ

Freedom and peace brought home to the heart of the sinner; that deliverance must have a foundation; what is the basis for the Lord opening up the prison door and releasing the sinner? Anything less than that would be a travesty of divine holiness and justice; must be justly released; cf. consequences of releasing prisoners who have not served their sentence;

“the acceptable year of the Lord” – a reference to Jubilee – comes from a word associated with good pleasure of the Lord; satisfied with something; connected to the atonement of Christ

Lev. 1:4 “accepted for him” to make atonement; picture of transferring of sin to innocent substitute who dies;

Lev. 25:8-9 sound the jubilee on the day of atonement; God’s good pleasure is then extended to man

What is the Atonement? To cover over so as not to be seen; linked with that word is forgiveness of sins; guilt is no longer seen by God because of the atoning blood; Lev. 19:21-22 brings together concepts of atonement and forgiveness; to be sent away; released; let go from guilt and condemnation by a God who is satisfied with the atonement that has been made

Rom. 5:10 by whom we have received the atonement

John 3:14 the Son of Man must be lifted up – on the cross — it is necessary because of the character of God – our sin is against divine holiness; it is a vain hope to think you can escape the consequences of your sins

The Atonement was successful; if you will trust in the atonement God will be pleased towards you

II. The Fullness of the Gospel Jubilee

Lev. 25 – describes the fullness of the Jubilee = Release / Rest / Restoration

The announcement of the beginning of the Messianic age

Constable: When Jesus Christ read this passage in the Nazareth synagogue and claimed that He fulfilled it, He stopped reading after “the favorable year of Yahweh” and did not read “and the day of vengeance of our God” (Luke 4:18-19). He meant that He was the Anointed One of whom Isaiah spoke, and that He had come to bring salvation. The day of salvation had begun (cf. 49:8; 2 Cor. 6:2). However, the day of vengeance would not begin until much later, specifically at the end of the Tribulation when He will return (cf. 34:8; 35:4; 63:4; Dan. 7:21, 24-27; Mic. 5:15; 1 Pet. 1:11; Rev. 12:13-17; 19:15-20).

MacArthur: The same as “a day of salvation” (49:8) and “My year of redemption” (63:4)


This Christmas season truly brings joy to the hearts of those who understand the good news of Jesus Christ coming to save us from our sins. We are the humble ones who understand our need of deliverance from the affliction and bondage of sin; our need to have the eyes of our understanding opened; to be made whole and forgiven so that we can enjoy fellowship with a holy God. This season is truly one of Jubilee for us.