Isaiah 61:1, 62:1
We come now to yet a further aspect of this so many-sided fruit of the Cross of the Lord Jesus. We remember that the first three verses of this sixty-first chapter of Isaiah, so full, were taken up by our Lord Jesus Himself. After His baptism the heavens were opened, and the Spirit descended and came upon Him: it was the great moment of His anointing as the Servant, Who had just passed, symbolically, by the way of the Cross, as represented by His baptism. Now, anointed, He meets the enemy in the wilderness, and worsts him completely on all points; then, returning from the wilderness in the power of the Spirit, He comes to Nazareth, where He has been brought up.
On the Sabbath day, He enters into the synagogue, and the Scriptures are handed to Him. He opens them at this point in Isaiah's prophecies, and reads these verses; and, when He has read them, He hands the roll back to the Ruler of the synagogue and sits down. (This, contrary to out custom, was a sign that he had something to say. If we have something to say, we usually stand up; but in the synagogues, if they had something to say, they sat down). And it says that 'the eyes of all' that were assembled 'were fastened upon Him' - because He had sat down; they saw He had something to say. "And He began to say unto them, Today hath this scripture been fulfilled in your ears" (Luke :14-21).
We thus see that the Lord Jesus was appropriating this part of Isaiah to Himself. All along we have recognized that there is a relationship of these prophecies to the Lord Jesus and to this dispensation, as well as a connection with the history of Israel. And this is what we now come to.
The Anointing of the Head Flows down to the Members
But notice, as we begin, that this anointing, while resting first of all upon 'the Lord's Servant' - for that is the title of Christ in Isaiah: "Behold My Servant" (Isaiah 42:1) - while this anointing of course rests upon Him and relates, fully and supremely, to Him, as the Head, the language of the prophetic narrative immediately afterwards makes an abrupt transition to 'they', 'them,' 'ye,' 'you,' your.' After this declaration concerning the anointing of the Servant, it goes on: "And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolation's, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolation's of many generations" (61:4). The people of God derive the values, come into the good, of this anointing. It is as though the anointing upon Him, as Head, just flowed down and embraced the whole of His membership - the members of Christ.
That is why we read the first fragment of the next chapter: "For Zion's sake will I not hold My peace ..." As I said in the previous chapter, there is so much, in these later prophecies of Isaiah, about Zion, Zion inheriting all these values. And Zion, as we know, is the Old Testament figure of the Church. We were speaking, in that chapter, about Zion's light: "Arise, shine, for thy light is come" (60:1) - this is the testimony recovered. Here, in chapter 61, we move into Zion's life and Zion's liberty.
To Proclaim Liberty to the Captives"
You notice, first of all, that this is a message to Zion, to the Church. All this has to have its fulfillment, its realization, in the Lord's people. Israel, at this time, were in exile in Babylon, in a state of bondage and spiritual death, and the prophecies have to do with their deliverance, their liberation from that bondage, from that death, the bringing of this people out into life and into liberty. Now I have said that Jesus took to Himself this Scripture about the anointing of the Lord being upon Him, "to proclaim liberty to the captives," and so on. But you remember that the earthly Zion, the earthly Jerusalem - in other words the Jewish people - never did come into the reality of this liberation. They missed all these values. That Zion did not inherit the values of His anointing. But the Church has inherited it all. This has become the inheritance of the spiritual Israel, the spiritual people of God. Judaism - 'Israel after the flesh' - was the supreme antagonist of the anointing. By their weapon of legalism, they slew Him. It must be a people who answer to all this that is said about the anointing, who come into these further values of the second part of this chapter.
That is, it must be a people who can appreciate the Good Tidings, because they are meek: that was not true of Israel after the flesh. It must be a people of a broken heart, and that was not true of Israel after the flesh. It must be a people conscious that they really are captives, and that was not true of the Jews in our Lord's day. They thought, they believed, that of all people on the earth they were the freest, the ones who knew least about bondage: that was one of the points of controversy with them and the Lord Jesus (John 8:33). It must be a people who feel that their state is one of imprisonment, if they are to enjoy the "opening of the prison to them that are bound;" and so on. The values of the anointing can only come to people who realize, all these ways, spiritually, their need of this Servant of the Lord, working, under the anointing, for their good, for their advantage.
(continued with # 2 - "The New Testament Counterpart")