Celebrate the Jubilee of our Anointed One!
Does it seem appropriate, just reading the words Isaiah has for us this morning? Or did it seem a little, bland? No, I’m not talking about the way that Pastor read the words of our first lesson, but to me at least, words of such magnitude should be accompanied by something greater. It’s almost not enough to just read them. Perhaps if we had some trumpets to introduce the lesson, maybe that would be appropriate.
After all, the words before us this morning are words that foretold the coming of the promised Messiah. They are words that use the imagery of the Old Testament festival of the Year of Jubilee to describe the world’s Savior. They are words that in essence proclaimed news of joy and wonder, comfort and hope, and it would only seem appropriate to give these words a proper introduction. It would seem only appropriate to give a proper introduction because our text this morning encourages us to Celebrate the Jubilee of our Anointed One! As we celebrate his Jubilee, we remember that He has rescued us from the Sorrow of Sin, that He has filled our hearts with endless Joy, and finally therefore, He moves us all to offer him our best.
Did you notice how this lesson is presented to us? We already knew that it spoke of the coming Messiah, but the Holy Spirit didn’t lead Isaiah to write in some story format. He didn’t write: the Messiah will do this, and then this, and then will accomplish all that. Rather, these words were written from the Messiah’s own perspective! They were written in such a way that Jesus Christ himself was speaking to Israel 700 years before his birth!
Listen again to his first words: The Lord has anointed me (v1b). It wasn’t really necessary for these words to be said, was it? After all you and I know two of the names of our Savior – the Hebrew name Messiah and the Greek name Christ – both mean “Anointed One.” If we know these names, then how much more would the people of Israel have known those names and what they symbolized?
Instead it is how our Savior was anointed that is significant. He was not anointed in the way that the Old Testament kings and priests were. They had to come before God’s prophet of the time, kneel down, and then have oil poured over their heads. Our Savior tells us this morning that, unlike those Old Testament kings and priests, he would be anointed with the Spirit of the Lord (v1a). You know when this happened, right? Jesus had come to the bank of the Jordan River and had asked John the Baptist to baptize him. After a short discussion about who should baptize whom, John baptized Jesus. As Jesus prayed to his Father in heaven, the voice of God spoke from heaven and the Holy Spirit rested on him in the form of a dove.
The Anointed One goes on, saying that he has come to preach good news to the poor (v1c). We all were poor at one point or another weren’t we? I’m not speaking about the size of your paycheck or the amount you have saved up in the bank and neither was the Anointed One. We all were poor, not economically, but spiritually. On our own, in our sinful nature, we had nothing to offer God – we could only beg for mercy.
There is another picture in our text this morning describing us when it says that he came to heal the brokenhearted (v1d). Webster’s dictionary defines brokenhearted as “suffering from great sorrow, one whose heart or conscience gives him no rest.” Doesn’t that describe us pretty well? We try, at times, to hide our sin and outwardly we look like we’re doing fine. But if someone were to look into our heart, they would see that we are really torn up over our sins; plagued with knowing how easily we fall back into those same sins we hate.
There is one more image that the Messiah uses to describe us. He says that he came to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners (v1e). Our sin is no joking matter. Our sin has made us Satan’s captive. The sins that we commit each day have imprisoned us in the darkness of separation from our Creator. We have been sentenced and doomed to the death penalty of an eternal separation from God.
The Israelites who lived at the time of the defeat by Babylon mourned over what they had witnessed. They had been crushed by Babylon, and they felt as if that defeat had taken away their will power. Their beloved city lay in ruins around them, and I’m sure that more than a handful felt as if their lives had come crashing down with it. We too, because of our sin, are like the Israelites who grieved in Zion (v3a). Sin has crushed us, and because of that sin our lives and the hope of life forever is in ruins.
This first section of our sermon text isn’t just God acting like a name-caller. Along with each of those descriptions of our sinful nature came a specific comfort. Did you notice those words of comfort also? Our Savior tells us that he has come so that the poor can receive good news, that hearts broken by sin might b e bound again and that those held captive by Satan should be given freedom and the prisoners be released.
The Anointed One was sent to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor (v2). Did you catch the imagery here? The people of Israel would have. These words brought to mind the festival of the year of Jubilee. They would have thought of the festival that happened once every 50 years. It was during this festival that all debts were forgiven, all slaves were freed, and any lost inherited land was returned to its original owner.
The true Jubilee festival isn’t something that occurs once every 50 years. The year of Jubilee is the time that we have been given the gospel. For us, the year of Jubilee began when we came to faith, and will last for all eternity. Before the year of the Lord’s favor came to us, we were nothing but beggars, brokenhearted and enslaved, who had lost the inheritance of eternal life. But now the year of the Lord’s favor has arrived and the debt of our sin has been forgiven, the shackles that imprisoned us have been opened, and the inheritance of eternal life has been returned.
All this was accomplished some 700 years after these words were written. The very same person who spoke these words spoke some other words at Calvary’s cross. There he said, It is finished. The debt we owed because of our sin was paid by Jesus Christ on that cross. The shackles of sin were opened because of his perfect life. Through his resurrection we were given the inheritance of eternal life.
We have been changed. No longer are we poor beggars, grasping for some small glimpse of hope. We no longer mope around in the darkness awaiting the death sentence for our sin. Instead as we celebrate the jubilee of our Anointed One, he has filled our hearts with endless joy.
If you though the pictures the Anointed One gave us before were amazing, nothing compares to what followed. Listen to what he has done for us now. He has come to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels (v 3b). Imagine for just a moment how you and I had just been described. We were poor beggars, dressed in the rags of our own shortcomings, begging for some glimpse of hope. We were prisoners, shackled in the dark dungeon of our own sin and awaiting the death penalty for that sin.
But now, picture yourself as one who has been dressed by the Anointed One! Those rags we once wore have been replaced with the best clothes possible. We are like a bride, dressed for her wedding day. Our rags have been removed and we now wear clothes like that of an extravagant wedding dress and on our head is a crown. The robe our Savior has given to us is adorned with the extravagance of salvation; the crown is that of everlasting life.
As beggars, we were not able to be presentable to come before our Father in heaven. But we are no longer out of place, we are right at home in splendor and majesty since we wear the garments of holiness that God’s own Son Jesus Christ purchased for us. He has dressed us for the occasion, and now you and I are able to go before God in joy and praise. Our hearts are no longer broken by our sin, but they have been mended and filled with the joy of knowing that we are at one with God. It is not some temporary and fleeting joy that ends with the changing of a season. It is an endless joy, a joy that will last through this life here on earth and will continue through life eternal in heaven.
Now that we have been dressed for the occasion, now that released from captivity, our joy overflows. We look for a way to respond to the joy we has been given. Our Savior shows us how we can respond. He moves us to offer him our best.
Place a coffee mug under a faucet and turn the water on. That cup begins to fill up until soon the water begins gushing over the sides. You and I are like that cup. Our heavenly Father, through his Anointed One Jesus Christ, has been filling us up with joy and praise since the time we were clothed with Christ. That joy and praise overflows and you and I can’t help but respond to that joy.
Listen to how our text describes our situation: as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes the seeds to grow (v 11). If you’re a green thumb, you’ve probably seen this first hand. Having worked on a golf course for 10 years, it was easy for me to see this picture. Day after day we would care for the grass, trees, and flowers that adorned the course. As we cared for them the buds on the trees opened into leaves, the grass grew longer and greener and the flowers bloomed. It was a natural result of caring and providing for these plants. Even more natural than tree buds turning into leaves or grass growing greener is our response to our Savior’s love. As our Savior shows us mercy upon mercy, thanks and praise to him burst forth from us.
How do we blossom and bloom in praise for our Lord? We could analyze that question and give perhaps several dozen answers, but one may be so obvious that it doesn’t even need to be mentioned - especially when we consider the season we are in.
Its Christmas time, and so where is much of the attention of our nation focused? If you would ask a random stranger on the street, they might tell you that it’s on the North Pole or at least what the “North Pole” symbolizes this time of year. It’s on purchasing and giving gifts to others. It is on making enough money to buy presents for everyone on your list. For many individuals, the focus is not on the one who gives us every good and perfect gift from above (James 1:17.
This time of year, it’s natural for us to desire to give gifts to friends and family. They are loved ones who have done much for us over the past year. Shouldn’t we, if we follow that logic, also want to give back to our heavenly Father? He has loved us and done so much for each of us. It’s easy to tighten the strings of our checkbook this time of year and say we don’t have much extra to place in the plate. But perhaps it would be a little easier to loosen those strings to give to our Lord when we look at how much he has given us already. If your friend gives you a gift this Christmas season, don’t you feel a bit inclined to return the gesture and give them a gift as well? Well, how much more shouldn’t we feel that way towards our God. He has given you the greatest gift – the gift of salvation. So we, therefore, want to show our thanks by giving back to him of what he has richly blessed us with already.
I had given a suggestion at the beginning of the sermon to use trumpets to give an appropriate introduction to this lesson. But is a trumpet completely necessary, or could we could be the ones to provide the jubilation and introduction with our own lives? Our hearts sound the joy that we now have because of how Jesus has changed our lives, and it’s a sound that we make as we praise our Lord, live lives of righteousness, and give back gifts of gratitude. As the Lord continues to fill us with his love, our whole lives will sound the joy as we celebrate the Jubilee of the Anointed One.