27 June 2015

Isaiah 61:1-11

“The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners” (v. 1)

Psalm: Psalm 34:11-22


The prophet speaks in an intensely personal account of a call from God, in a manner which is reminiscent of previous days' readings this week. His vocation is neatly summed up: good news to the poor; binding up the broken-hearted, releasing people from oppression; comfort to those who are mourning; and rebuilding of ancient ruins. The disasters of the past are being overcome.

Once again, the importance of strangers and foreigners is stressed (verse 5). They will join in the work, bring their wealth and share in everlasting joy. The Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up abundantly. It is a wonderful, reassuring picture, painted in an alluring fashion.

However, the demand to the people is there in those first verses. It was an enormous challenge to the first audience, as it has been to countless generations who have heard this passage.

In Luke's Gospel (Luke 4:16-19) you can read of Jesus being handed the book of the prophet Isaiah, and choosing to read this passage. It has often been understood as his manifesto, as it was of the prophet, and as it was intended to be for God's people who had suffered defeat, exile and then restoration.

To Ponder

  • Do you think the manifesto is realistic? If so, then how could you make it real in your own life? If not, then how would you change the manifesto?
  • What does it mean to you to be a 'minister of our God' (verse 6)?

Bible notes author

The Revd Stephen Burgess

Revd Stephen Burgess is chair of the York & Hull District of the Methodist Church. He initially trained as a chemist and after some years in industry and teaching served in two school chaplaincy appointments before becoming superintendent of the Cambridge Circuit and then moving to Yorkshire.

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