Today’s Chocolate: Endangered Species Dark Chocolate with 88% Cocoa
Today’s Passage: Isaiah 61
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.” Sound familiar? It’s not just the first line of today’s chapter. It’s also what Jesus reads in his hometown synagogue in Luke 4:16-21, which he concludes by telling the congregation: “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” This is my mission, Jesus tells his hearers. God has chosen me to accomplish what Isaiah hoped for, and you are witnesses to my commissioning.
Even if Jesus hadn’t explicitly identified it as a Messianic passage in the Nazareth synagogue, we could identify it as Messianic from the text itself. “[T]he Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted” (61:1). Remember that the word “Messiah” simply means “anointed” in Hebrew. Anointing is ceremonially applying oil, typically to the head or forehead, to signify God’s calling for a person; Israel’s priests and kings were typically inaugurated into their positions with anointing. Isaiah 61, then, is about someone whom God himself anoints, not with oil but with his Spirit. And Jesus identifies himself as that person: the Messiah, the Lord’s Anointed One.
The rest of the chapter primarily concerns the restoration of Israel’s kingdom, and I’ve already grappled with that. But let’s jump to the end of the passage, as the last verses of my daily reading often get short shrift. Isaiah writes:
I will rejoice greatly in the Lord,
My soul will exult in my God;
For He has clothed me with garments of salvation,
He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. (61:10)
In the synagogue, Jesus denotes that he’s taken up the mantle of salvation and righteousness that God has prepared for him. God’s purpose is like a bridegroom’s finest apparel, finery for the most celebratory of occasions. When Jesus calls himself the Bridegroom (e.g. Matthew 9:15), he’s implying that he wears the righteousness, the moral perfection, necessary for his death on the cross to save his people from their sins. The sacrifice has to be faultless; one sinner can’t pay the death penalty for another sinner.
That’s a wrap for this post. See you guys in 2016.