Finding Real Freedom
Isaiah 61:1-3 (Part 1)
“…the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news…” vs. 1
What’s the Message?
I thought we would have some light-hearted fun this morning by looking at a few signs, that are real places, where the sign might be sending a mixed message.
-Do Not Enter – Entrance Only
-Curve Left, Turn Right
-Stop Sign, No stopping anytime
-Left Turn arrow, no left turn
-Puppies, Puppies, Puppies, Parking for Chinese Food Customers
-Wendy’s, Beat Diabetes Buy 5 Frostys for $1
-McDonald’s, Parking for Drive-thru Service Only.”
Obviously, someone has not thought out completely what they are trying to communicate in these instances. But…have you ever thought about what message you might be sending to people about Christianity or maybe what the message of the church sends to those who don’t believe? Isaiah addresses this in Isaiah 61:1-3 so if you are able, please stand as we read God’s Word.
Read Passage – Isaiah 61:1-3
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, 2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, 3and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.
Verse 1 starts with something that Isaiah is keenly aware of and that he mentions several times throughout the book that bears his name, he says:
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.” vs. 1
Isaiah was certain of something; God had called him to be His messenger. That’s a great thing to know exactly what God wants you to do. Here’s something you might not have grasped before, you and I have the same calling as Isaiah. Jesus told his disciples in John 20:21:
“Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’”
So Jesus sends the disciples out but the call is also for you and me. God did not say’ “Okay, accept my Son,” and then zap you are out of the world. NO he chooses to use us to be his messengers of Good News. The thing is, sometimes the world doesn’t hear it as good news and many times they feel that the church gives them a mixed message. Isaiah has some great insights, 4 in fact, that should be part of the message we bring to the world. These four things are freedoms that we bring the world. We are looking at freedoms and yet I think the world hears restrictions from us more that the freedoms.
The Freedom of Jesus Message
The real message of freedom is found when we look to Jesus. Interestingly, Isaiah’s message to Israel is the precursor to the message that Jesus gives. So if we take the message of Isaiah from chapter 61 and match it to Jesus message, we see four freedoms.
- Freedom from Division
The first freedom is found in verse 1b:
“…the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.” vs. 1b
Notice that Isaiah points out the anointing of the poor. Why the poor? We tend to divide ourselves and the rich tend to have what they need and they get special privileges in our world. But Isaiah brings the message that a time is coming, a time in God’s kingdom, where the poor are given dignity, the poor are given equality, things even out between the rich and the poor, and that God’s love and salvation are not just for the rich, the well to do and the privileged, but for all people.
Jesus said in Matthew 5 “Blessed are the poor” and in Matt. 11 5o proclaim the good news to the poor, in Matthew 19 that we should give our things to the poor, and in Luke 14 to invite the poor to our celebrations. Jesus brings the message that all people matter to God and that there is no favoritism. Jesus is giving us insight into the kingdom of God. What is the kingdom of God like? Glad you asked. Let’s look at the kingdom of God revealed to John in Rev. 5:
“…with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.” Rev. 5:9b
In God’s kingdom there is not division and we bring that same message to the world. The church is to reflect God’s kingdom where every people, every tribe, every language, every culture, every social status, everybody is welcomed and accepted.
2. Freedom From Brokenness
The second freedom that Isaiah states in his message is that God’s message brings freedom from brokenness. He says in verse 1c:
“He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted…” vs. 1c
Notice that it’s not just freedom from the brokenness but healing as well. He states that he was sent to “bind” the brokenhearted.
Ex. Let me use an example to help illustrate what Isaiah is saying. Think of it as breaking a finger. The best way to heal the broken finger is to tie it or “bind” it to the finger next to it so that it heals straight and so that the hand works as a whole, the way it was designed. So here is what the message of freedom is, we bind together to support, help, encourage, and heal one another. We bring the message of healing. The ultimate bind comes when we bind ourselves to Jesus Christ. Jesus also sent the message of healing to the world and he did more than speak it, he made it happen for people. Luke 9:6:
“So they set out and went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere.” Luke 9:6
Our message to the world is and should be one of healing. The ultimate healing comes when we go to be with God and we are healed forever; no sickness no sadness, no tears, no problems, no death. Everything is put right by God.
3. Freedom from Darkness
The third freedom is in verse 1c:
“…to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners…” vs. 1c
The picture Isaiah paints here is the one where you are held captive. In their day, jails and captivity are in dungeons and cellars; away from the light. It’s dark and dingy and cold. Darkness brings up feelings of uncertainty, it’s scary, there is an uneasiness in it, and really it’s not good for us either. I would even go so far as to say that we were not intended to live in darkness. Jesus spoke these words in John 8:12:
“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
Notice the picture Jesus gives us when it comes to light. Jesus says we will never walk in darkness; that sense of uneasiness, that sense of the unknown and the hidden, the uncertainty that is there in darkness. No, Jesus makes everything open, clear, and everything is made plain.
4. Freedom from Judgment
The 4th freedom that Isaiah highlights is the freedom from judgement. The reality is we will all face a day of accountability. Isaiah says in verse 2a:
“…to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God…” 2a
Isaiah talks about the Year of the Lord’s favor, the OT equivalent of the Year of Jubilee where freedom was granted. In the OT there was a precedence in place where you could enslave yourself to get out of debt. At the 7 year mark you were granted your freedom. and the day of vengeance The really neat thing about this verse is that it is the Year of the Lord’s favor in comparison to the day of Judgement. The Judgment Day in eternity is something we all face but it’s only a day. In comparison, God’s favor is a long time, a year. And here is the bottom line, mercy will win. We often stress the judgement of God when it may be more effective to stress God’s mercy. James says in James 2:13:
“Mercy triumphs over judgment.” James 2:13
In God’s realm, mercy triumphs over judgement. Mercy: kindness given to someone in a bad situation or kind and forgiving treatment to someone who could be treated harshly. I am not saying we overlook sin. What I am saying is that the world has come to see the church as someone who can’t wait to tell everyone what they are doing wrong and many times treating them improperly. If God is willing to forgive and restore and show kind treatment when we should be treated harshly, we can do and should do the same. He does it for us, for you, so we should do that for others.
Jesus: The Ultimate Messenger
We have seen how Isaiah’s words reflect Jesus and Jesus even quotes Isaiah. After quoting Isaiah in Luke 4 Jesus says this in verse 21:
“He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:21
Jesus is the fulfillment of these freedoms for us. In fact, I we only know true freedom from division, brokenness, darkness and judgement through Jesus. We try to find it in many different forms and ways but ultimately these freedoms are only found in Christ. We may experience parts of these in a small portion, but the ultimate freedom comes in Jesus. That was his message, and that is the message we should be bringing to the world. Jesus gives us this charge in John 20:21:
“Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’”
Jesus message is our message.