April 24, 2011
Psalm 2, Is. 61:1-3, 10-11, Lk. 24:1-12
Psalm 103, Ex. 15:1-13, Jn. 20:1-10
We left the book of the Prophet Isaiah during the season of Epiphany. We return to it now, reading different passages this week before taking it up in its regular order of chapter and verse next Monday. It continues as a reading for morning or evening until the week of the Sunday after Ascension, by which time we will have read the entirety of this important Old Testament book.
Today’s reading includes the verses read by our Lord in the synagogue in Nazareth, which caused such a stir among the people when He said. “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears” (Lk. 4:16-30). The passage obviously looks ahead to a new day in Jerusalem when the captivity in Babylon will be over and the Jews are allowed to return to their homes in Judea. Isaiah is the one upon whom the Spirit of the Lord is come in the passage. He was primarily called to the sorrowful task of proclaiming the wrath and judgment of God upon the Jews. But his message was also allowed to give some comfort, and several passages, like today’s, tell of forgiveness and restoration for the people. He was allowed to proclaim good tidings, bind up the broken hearted, and preach liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to those who are bound (61:1). The Babylonian Captivity, in which the Jews were conquered and carried away from Jerusalem by the Babylonians, is the obvious setting of this passage. It is the release from Babylon that the prophet proclaims. Yet the Jews' release from human captors cannot exhaust the meaning of this passage. Our Lord was quite correct to say that it was fulfilled in Him, who came to release us from a conqueror far more cruel than Nebuchadnezzar, and a bondage far more bitter than the ancient city of Babylon. Christ came to release us from our bondage of sin and our captor Satan. These are the ultimate good tidings of Isaiah 61.