Messiah’s Anointing – Isaiah 61

Jesus’ life on earth started out on the move.  He was born in Bethlehem in fulfillment of the Lord’s words spoken through the prophet Micah.

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Though you are little among the thousands of Judah,
Yet out of you shall come forth to Me
The One to be Ruler in Israel,
Whose goings forth are from of old,
From everlasting.” Micah 5:2 NKJV

Not long after His birth, the Spirit warned Jesus’ stepfather Joseph in a dream about the intentions of a jealous King Herod. Learning of the birth of the Messiah through visiting wise men from the east, Herod would undertake a murderous rampage to eliminate any potential competition for his throne.  Under cover of night, Joseph fled to Egypt with his small family to ride out the coming storm.  This was one of Satan’s attempts to thwart God’s redemptive plan.

When King Herod died, Joseph planned to return to Judah with his family.  But the Spirit warned him in a dream that Herod’s son, now ruling in his place, was no better than his father.  Joseph instead took his family north to settle in Nazareth in the region of Galilee.

Jesus grew in wisdom and stature in Nazareth and began working alongside his carpenter father.  The young man had an amazing knowledge of scripture and exhibited great insight before the religious authorities at the temple in Jerusalem.  But in other ways, Jesus was much like the other young men of Nazareth.  The Bible tells us that Jesus’ first miracle would not occur until His adult ministry began, occurring at a wedding feast at Cana.  At His mother Mary’s request, He would turn water into wine to help save the wedding hosts from embarrassment when their own wine ran out.  The quality of the new wine greatly surpassed that of the old.

When Jesus approached thirty years old, He began His three-year ministry of preaching the Good News of the kingdom of heaven in the towns and cities of Israel.  To accompany and confirm His message, He healed countless people along way, even raising some from the dead.  He also delivered and freed many who were suffering from demonic spiritual bondage.

Jesus’ earthly ministry formally began when was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River.  John, a second cousin of Jesus, had been given the ministry of Elijah – preparing the way for the coming Messiah.  People were divinely drawn to John from all over the countryside to confess their sins, change their ways, and receive a baptism of repentance in the Jordan River in preparation for the coming of their King.

John initially did not want to baptize Jesus because he knew that Jesus was without sin.  But Jesus insisted, and when He came up out of the water, the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus like a dove, with the voice of the Father giving His loving approval.  This is a special moment in the Bible where the Trinity is seen and heard together.

After His baptism, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days to fast and pray in preparation for His ministry.  This ministry would lead right up to Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection from the dead, providing salvation for all believers worldwide.  While in the desert, He was tempted by Satan, who did everything in his power to cause Jesus to stumble and fail in His loving mission.  But Jesus held firm, using quotes He had memorized from scripture to fend off the attacks.  After His time of fasting was complete, angels attended to Him and helped restore His strength.  His anointed ministry was now fully underway, and He returned to the town of his youth to announce it.

16 So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. 17 And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:  Luke 4:16-17 NKJV

1 “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 61:1-2a NKJV

20 Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:20-21 NKJV

Although coming to them was a great honor, Jesus was rejected by the people of Nazareth, who saw Him only as the carpenter’s son.  In fact, when He rebuked them for their unbelief, they tried to kill Jesus by throwing Him off a rocky cliff, as Nazareth is located on a hill.  But He escaped their efforts, passing right through their midst.

Jesus’ rejection would not only be in Nazareth.  He would face many who would not accept who He was.  Because of this, Jesus’ ministry was expanded out to reach the whole world, both Jew and Gentile, as had been prophesied by Isaiah.

1 “I was sought by those who did not ask for Me;
I was found by those who did not seek Me.
I said, ‘Here I am, here I am,’
To a nation that was not called by My name. Isaiah 65:1 NKJV

God had planned to offer salvation to the whole world through the Jewish nation all along, but the rejection of Him as Messiah by many expedited this process.  The Gospel of Salvation was now offered to the Gentiles, as well.  This would be spearheaded by the ministry of the Apostle Paul, who would receive his own anointing on the road to Damascus, dramatically changing his direction in life.

Reflection

Who do I say that Jesus is?  A carpenter’s son?  A great and wise man?  Or the Messiah, God Almighty, the source of my faith and eternal salvation?

Lord, open my eyes to see who You really are.  Help me to understand that You have been at my side every step of the way, preserving and loving me right up to this moment.  Grant me the gift of salvation offered on Your cross that I may be cleansed of my sin and spend eternity with You.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

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