Wednesday 02 January 2019

Bible Book:

'He has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners.' (v 1b)

Isaiah 61: 1-11 Wednesday 2 January 2019

Psalm: Psalm 96:1-10


Did you make any New Year’s resolutions yesterday?

Here’s a different idea: write your own manifesto of aims and dreams to take forward into 2019. Who would inspire you as you wrote this?

When Jesus visited the synagogue in Nazareth in Luke 4, he stood up to read and is given "the scroll of Isaiah". He reads these words from what we now call Isaiah 61 – an iconic reading that comes across as a setting of priorities at the beginning of his ministry.

But what about the original context?

The book of Isaiah is thought to have been written by different authors and this passage is classed as being in the section known as ‘Third Isaiah’ – a collection of oracles by unknown prophets in the years immediately after the return from the people of Israel’s return from exile in Babylon.

A newer approach states that Isaiah should simply be split down into two sections – warning of judgement and promises of subsequent restoration for Jerusalem, Judah and the nations (chapters 1-33) and then the story of how judgement has already taken place and restoration is at hand (chapters 34-66).

Isaiah 61 speaks of what Samuel Giere calls “a personal agent upon whom the spirit of the Lord rests, who is anointed, and who with the good news liberates.” (, Dec 2008)

Spoken first to a people who had been through terrible experiences of rejection and exile, the words of Isaiah 61 offer a hopeful and pastoral promise to many who have known suffering and brokenness. But there are also practical promises of restoration – ruined walls and cities will be repaired, devastated fields and flocks will once again flourish.

It’s a heady promise to a people in need of hope and a new future – so it is completely understandable that when Jesus referenced these words in the synagogue at Nazareth, they would have caused a huge impact. 


To Ponder:

  • If you had to write a ‘manifesto’ of things you want to work for in 2019, what would be on the list?
  • What are the words of hope that could be important in the weeks and months to come?
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