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Isaiah 61:1-11

Key Verse:

1 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;


As a small boy I could hardly wait for Christmas Day to come. I was longing for Santa to bring me an astronaut’s helmet on Christmas morning (thereby advancing my dream of joining NASA). I got the helmet – but had failed to reckon that math would be required. And so, my hopes were dashed.

Advent still fills me with wonder. We sing “Come thou long-expected Jesus, born to set thy people free, from our sins and fears release us, let us find our rest in Thee.” I long for rest. And yet, my life often feels more characterized by frantic interaction with “chaos monsters” than by rest. All of us intuitively sense that things are not the way they are supposed to be. We long for shalom. Isaiah’s words give us hope.

He prophesies the coming of Messiah who will bring good news to the poor, and bind up the brokenhearted (v. 1). He will proclaim the Year of Jubilee when all debts are cancelled and all slaves set free (v. 2). To those who are grieving, he will give “beauty for ashes” and turn our despair into praise (v. 3). And as we wrestle with our own broken hearts, his words console us. We can hardly wait for that day to come!

How fitting then, that when Jesus began his public ministry in Nazareth, he declared that Isaiah’s words were fulfilled in him. As Chris Wright says, by his cross-work this Messiah has freed us “from everything that oppresses.” And so we wait in hopeful expectation for the day when our faith becomes sight. Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus!

Herb Ward


Dear Lord, thank you for sending your Messiah to free us. By your Holy Spirit enable us to be a people of hope, as we wait for the day when our Saviour will wipe away every tear. Amen.


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1 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,
    and the day of vengeance of our God;
    to comfort all who mourn;
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.
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.

Strangers shall stand and tend your flocks;
    foreigners shall be your plowmen and vinedressers;
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.
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.

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.
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.

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.
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.