The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory. They will rebuild the ancient ruins, repairing cities destroyed long ago. They will revive them, though they have been deserted for many generations. (Isaiah 61:1-4)
Relate: Jesus had been teaching for a while now. He had been baptized in the Jordan by John. He then had gone out into the wild where he had fasted for forty days. Upon returning he collected a few followers he had inherited from his cousin John and with them he went to a wedding where he turned a whole lot of water into wine. (a couple hundred gallons worth) He had established the town of Nahum (Capernaum) as his new home base and now he was returning to the town he was raised in. As a guest and also a respected member of the community he is invited to pick out a scripture and expound on it for the weekly Synagogue service. Jesus chooses this portion of scripture from Isaiah. He skips over “the day of God’s anger against their enemies” but otherwise reads what we now call the first three verses. His explanation is very short, but also undeniably clear. He says, “Today this prophesy has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:16-21)
React: Something struck me about this verse way back in the day when it was my verse for the year. (98? 99?) The first three verses are all about what God and what the “me” we know is Jesus will do. But in verse 4 it switches from “he” and “me” to “they”. That “they” is you and me. Yes, I just used six pronouns in less than a dozen words. Confused much? Let me say it again. The “they” Isaiah writes about in chapter 61 is you and me. We are the “they” who have a responsibility. God anoints. Jesus heals and brings freedom and turns tears to joy. But we have a part in this story of restoration too. We have been planted by God right where we are so that we can rebuild and restore. That means doing work. That means getting our hands dirty, but not just for any reason. Our task is to be about rebuilding and repairing what this world tries to destroy. Are we doing it? Or are we shrugging off our responsibility by believing that “they” means someone else.
Help me to never forget that I have a purpose in living. Help me to better understand the part You have called me to play in the work of redemption. Show me how I can be more effective in rebuilding and repairing, both physically and spiritually what the enemy wants to destroy. Everything I have is Yours to do with as You wish. Help me to be about that doing.