Monday after Epiphany

Isaiah 61:1-11

The Year of the Lord’s Favor

Epiphany is a single day, not a season, but the week after is taken up with the final chapters of Isaiah, chapters of longing and hope and fulfillment as we see the New Testament relevance.  Today, we read Isaiah 61, the first few verses of which find their fulfillment in our Lord’s ministry, recorded in Luke 4:16-30.  Here in Isaiah we read, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; 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; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”  It is these words that our Lord read in his hometown of Nazareth recorded in Luke’s gospel – that almost got him killed.  After reading, and while “the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him,” he said to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

And now let us return to Isaiah 61 to discover exactly what it was that was fulfilled that day in Nazareth and what is fulfilled for us today.  As Isaiah had prophesied the devastation of Judah due to the nation’s sins (which occurred in 586 B.C. at the hands of the Babylonians), he also prophesied their redemption as recorded here.  But Jesus takes up these words and refers them to himself.  He is the One upon whom the Spirit of the Lord is, for the Father has bestowed upon his Son the Spirit “without measure” (John 3:34).  And we see all the things mentioned in 61:1 happening in Jesus’ ministry. When John the Baptist was in prison and sent some disciples to Jesus to ask if he were “the one who is to come,” Jesus answered, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them” (Matthew 11:2-6).  No doubt, Isaiah’s hearers heard this message and applied it to themselves with good effect, but its greater fulfillment was in Christ Jesus, himself.

And its present fulfillment is upon the Church of Jesus Christ.  Isaiah said that the redeemed nation would be called “the priests of the Lord.”  It was this that the nation of Israel was charged by God to become (Exodus 19:6), and this that the Church of Jesus Christ is today: a kingdom of priests sanctifying the world with their prayers and holy living (1 Peter 2:9).  Jesus ended his message to John’s disciples that day saying, “And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”  In Nazareth, they took offense.  People will in our day, too.  Stand firm and continue in your priesthood.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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