These great words apply to the Messiah. We know this because Jesus spoke many of them about Himself at the beginning of His ministry (Luke 4:14-21). If the words did apply to Isaiah it was in a secondary sense. Maybe to some degree they did relate to his obviously anointed ministry. But there was a much deeper meaning and intent in them. Whatever your situation or need may be today, you will find what you require in Jesus. He has an answer. He is your answer. Verse 3b is similar to chapter 60:21b. Jesus has come to make strong, sturdy, stable people; men and women, and boys and girls who are right with God and who live right, and who, in so doing, bring glory to God.
In the first place, Isaiah was again writing about a physical, literal deliverance from exile in Babylon. The ‘’captives’’ would be freed. The ‘’prisoners’’ would come home. There was going to be a new day in ‘’Zion’’ (3). The whole atmosphere of Jerusalem would change as the city was restored. People’s hearts and lives would be transformed. That happened about 150 years after Isaiah wrote these words. But at a much deeper level, Isaiah was anticipating the coming of the Messiah who would ‘’release’’ many prisoners from darkness’’, setting them free from bondage to sin. Jesus came about 700 years later.
I think this word of explanation from Tom Hale is important: ‘’When Jesus quoted verses 1-2, He omitted the last part of verse 2 about proclaiming the day of vengeance of our God. Jesus did not come to earth to proclaim vengeance; He came to proclaim salvation – the year of the LORD’s favour (see Isaiah 49:8). However, when He comes a second time, it will be to gather his elect and to proclaim judgment (vengeance) on all the rest of mankind (Mark 13:26-27; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10). Christ is both Saviour and Judge. Now He is Saviour of those who believe; soon He’ll be Judge of those who do not. In a very real sense, these centuries between Christ’s first coming and His second coming can be called the ‘’year of the Lord’s favour,’’ the period during which we are offered salvation. For each person this ‘’year of favour’’ ends at death; our choice in this life will determine whether Christ becomes our Saviour or our Judge.’’ Tom Hale: ‘The Applied Old Testament Commentary’, p.1066.
If Jesus needed the anointing of the Holy Spirit to fulfil His ministry, how much more do we need the Spirit of God for ours? We are faced with a dark, sad and broken world, full of needy people. We cannot serve them as we should, in Jesus’ Name, without being clothed with power from on high. But with the divine equipping what power we will know to see people utterly transformed.
Prayer: Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me; fill me anew.