Several Old Testament prophecies declare that the Messiah would be a preacher. Jesus verified that, saying, “I must preach the kingdom of God . . . because for this purpose I have been sent!” (Luke 4:43)
Jesus spoke those words after entering the synagogue in Nazareth and preaching from Isaiah 61, which we quote here:
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” (Isaiah 61:1-2)
Let us examine briefly those explanatory phrases.
Jesus would “preach good tidings to the poor.” These are the people of whom Jesus spoke in the Beatitudes: “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” (Matthew 5:3) They have nothing to offer God but their humble and penitent hearts. Those good tidings proclaim God’s love and forgiveness.
Preaching “good tidings to the poor” is directly connected to Jesus being sent to “heal the brokenhearted.” Our hearts are broken with the guilt we feel, sin’s consequences, and our struggle with our sinful nature. Though sin is a source of great pain and suffering, the good will of Jesus is stronger, and His love will preside over our lives always.
Jesus proclaimed “liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.” Jesus did more than merely preach about it!
“Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, [Jesus] Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” (Hebrews 2:14-15)
Jesus also proclaimed “the acceptable year of the Lord.” That time of grace is right now!
“Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near.” (Isaiah 55:6)
What was and continues to be the goal of Jesus’ preaching ministry?
“To comfort all who mourn, To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:2-3)
He calls His people to be “trees of righteousness.” In Palestine there are relatively few trees. Where trees are found they provide needed shade from oppressive heat. God’s people are seedlings planted by God Himself to bear precious fruit to delight and bless everyone around them and so glorify God. This is the kind of fruit that comes from being covered with the righteousness of Christ and being renewed by the Holy Spirit through the Gospel. His people are called to be a haven for others seeking relief from the intensity of guilt and the unsettledness of the world.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Jesus leads us to true repentance that we may have abundant life and truly praise our heavenly Father! By His grace we become trees of righteousness. Through God’s grace our hearts have been changed, and so has our eternal destiny.
In Matthew 9:35 it says, “Jesus went about all the cities and villages . . . preaching the gospel of the kingdom.” He has given us ears to hear. Let us hear!