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Jesus & Justice | Jesus’ First Inaugural
January 9, 2022
1The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
2to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
3to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.
4They shall build up the ancient ruins;
they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations.
5Strangers shall stand and tend your flocks;
foreigners shall be your plowmen and vinedressers;
6but you shall be called the priests of the Lord;
they shall speak of you as the ministers of our God;
you shall eat the wealth of the nations,
and in their glory you shall boast.
7Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion;
instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot;
therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion;
they shall have everlasting joy.
8For I the Lord love justice;
I hate robbery and wrong;
I will faithfully give them their recompense,
and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
9Their offspring shall be known among the nations,
and their descendants in the midst of the peoples;
all who see them shall acknowledge them,
that they are an offspring the Lord has blessed.
10I will greatly rejoice in the Lord;
my soul shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11For as the earth brings forth its sprouts,
and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up,
so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
to sprout up before all the nations.
Luke 4 gives us an account of Jesus’ first sermon. It’s in that sermon that Jesus quotes from Isaiah 61. In Isaiah 61, the prophet proclaims the hope and promise of God’s arrival and salvation. This passage is part of the concluding section of the book of Isaiah, and it is given to people who are experiencing deep suffering. Darkness is all around them primarily because they have been taken off into exile and Isaiah has been the one who has been telling them that because of their rebellion and idolatry they would be in exile.
But now Isaiah comes with good news of hope. They are words to a weary Israel that God has not forgotten them, and that he will heal them and the world. It is these promises upon which their hopes should rest. Isaiah is telling them that God will lead them out of exile and restore the world. Here we are given the hope of justice and salvation. Knowing that Jesus takes up these very words in the synagogue in Luke 4 helps us to see how Isaiah’s promise of justice and salvation come to fruition in the life and ministry of Jesus. And how we then ought to understand what justice is, why we need it, and how we get it.
To discover and experience Jesus Christ in our midst
To cultivate mutually encouraging relationships
To participate in God’s mission to the world
Beloved God, we gather as your beloved community in the name of your beloved Son, Christ Jesus. Speak to us with your love and your grace. Part the clouds of our frantic, harried lives, that we may recognize your Spirit moving in our very midst. Speak, for your servants are listening. Amen.
Responsive Prayer—Psalm 29:1-11 (A Psalm of David)
1Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
2Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.
3The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord, over many waters.
4The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.
5The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars; the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
6He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf, and Sirion like a young wild ox.
7The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire.
8The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness; the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
9The voice of the Lord makes the deer give birth and strips the forests bare, and in his temple all cry, “Glory!”
10The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.
11May the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace!
1. Looking at the Bible: What does the text say?
- What role does the Spirit of the Lord play in Isaiah 61?
- Where and to whom does the promise of God’s comfort come?
- In the original context who were the brokenhearted, the captives, and those who mourn?
- What other ways do you see transformation and rescue in this passage?
2. Looking at Jesus: Because Jesus takes part of this passage and Isaiah 58 when he preaches his first sermon in Luke 4, we can see how Jesus fulfills all these promises in his life, death, and resurrection.
What does the passage say about Jesus?
- How does the life and work of Jesus demonstrate and proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor (v.2)?
- In v.4-7 there are many great promises of what the conqueror’s work will achieve for God's people. Identify what the Lord says he will do for this own.
- In what ways have we entered into this already in Christ?
- In what ways does Jesus embody and speak v.10-11?
3. Looking at our Hearts: The setting of Isaiah 61 is one of exile. Ruined cities in need of repair after generations of devastation (Isaiah 61:4). In many ways, we continue to live in an exile because even though Christ has come, we still await his return and final work, which is the renewal of all things. We live in the exile of our shame and guilt because of our sin. We live in exile with bodies that are sick and dying. We live in exile with broken relationships, injustice, and loneliness. The promise that Isaiah offers, and Jesus promises to fulfill, is that he will come to us in our exile by the power of the Holy Spirit, and he will not leave us or forsake us.
- Under the extended marriage imagery (Isaiah 61:10), God paints a picture of the intimate relationship of love and care which he will excerise towards his people. What does God do for them/us? What benefit is the Robe of Righteousness to you in light of the already and not yet?
- The movement in this passage is one of mourning to gladness (v.3). What are ways that you have experienced God's grace in your life such that is has been an "oil of gladness instead of mourning?"
4. Looking at our World: The promise of Isaiah 61 is that the Lord will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations (v.9,11). This passage should expand our understanding and expectancy of what God will do not only in our lives but throughout the world.
- How might we as the church participate in the promises of v.11 “The Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations?"
- How might a Biblical vision of justice that is drawn from this passage shape how we love and serve our neighbors and the world?
Rejoicing in the good gifts of our Creator, and filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit, let us go out to love and serve the world as the body of Christ.
View Study Guide Notes
Question 1: In Isaiah 61, we begin to see the transformative effects of God’s grace and justice as a new speaker is introduced. He is anointed by the Lord to proclaim this message, for which the Spirit of God rests upon him. This is the promise of a divine warrior and anointed conqueror who will ultimately be Jesus. In this passage Isaiah is giving the promise of God’s arrival (v.1-3), the promise of God’s healing (v.4-5), and the promise of God’s salvation (v.10-11). All of this is good news for us that God does not forget us or forsake us but draws near to us and brings his righteousness and justice.
Question 2: Jesus begins his ministry in the synagogue after he comes out of his own ‘exile’ in the desert where he faced the temptation of the devil (Luke 4:1-13). Instead of succumbing to temptation as Adam did in the garden, Jesus faithfully resists temptation and begins his work of “undoing” as the Second Adam. Next, he walks into a synagogue in Nazareth, his hometown, on the Sabbath and in this passage, he concludes with “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” In other words, on that day Jesus was proclaiming that the promises and vision that Isaiah had proclaimed to those weary exiles had finally come to fruition in him. God had come, in the flesh in his fullness, in Jesus.
This is the hope of the good news that is offered to us. God always shows up. He never forgets. He never leaves his people. Now, just as his Spirit settled on the prophet Isaiah, God arrives in glory and joy in his son Jesus and because of that, his promises come to us.
Question 3: N/A
Question 4: Isaiah 61 gives us a vision of justice, healing, and flourishing that only God can bring. Our calling is to refocus our hope in the coming of the Lord. We place our hopes in so many different things, people, and powers. As we live our daily lives, we cling to everything and anything that we think will heal us and that will bring justice, but only God can do that. Only God will do that. This is the promise of Luke 4.
The following quote by Cornelius Plantinga that Jason referenced in his sermon might also be a helpful discussion point regarding a Biblical view of justice.
“The webbing together of God, humans, and all creation in justice, fulfillment, and delight is what the Hebrew prophets called shalom. We call it peace, but it means far more than mere peace of mind or a cease-fire between enemies. In the Bible, shalom means universal flourishing, wholeness and delight—a rich state of affairs in which natural needs are satisfied and natural gifts fruitfully employed, a state of affairs that inspires joyful wonder as its Creator and Savior opens doors and s the creatures in whom he delights. Shalom, in other words, is the way things out to be.”