The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
It is not insignificant that Jesus stops with the first half of chapter 2. His first coming is to proclaim, and accomplish, salvation for his people (as Matthew tells us, his name will be Jesus “because he will save his people from their sins.”). The second half of the verse tells us what will happen at his second coming: “and the day of vengeance of our God.” Another realistic interpretation is that this vengeance spoken of is that which was poured out on Christ for our sin. One commentary I read said that when God saves his people, he takes vengeance on their enemies. Our ultimate enemy is sin and death, and God gave us victory over those in Christ’s death and resurrection.
I also notice that the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is not the same as Jesus, a hint that the Triune God is active in salvation. And notice to whom Jesus was sent:
- The poor
- The brokenhearted
- The captives
- The prisoners
These are people who realize they have a problem, a very bad problem. Those who pride themselves on their own self-sufficiency have no place in God’s kingdom. The Lord, this anointed one, Jesus the Messiah, is the who accomplishes the great reversal in our lives. Also notice who does the acting in salvation. Jesus will:
- Preach good news
- Bind up the brokenhearted
- Proclaim freedom
- Release from darkness
And the final words of verse 3 leave no doubt that it isn’t about us:
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.
Next to this verse I have Matt. 15:13 written in my Bible, which makes it even more emphatically about what God does for us. Jesus tells his disciples:
Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots.
Calvin and his followers are the only Christian tradition that embraces this without reservation or qualification. And anytime that righteousness is addressed in terms of salvation, it must always be interpreted by Romans 3, the righteousness of God given to us by faith. It is not a righteousness earned by obedience to the law. Verse 10 is a perfect compliment to Paul’s understanding of how we come to participate in this righteousness:
I delight greatly in the Lord;
my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness
There is some question as to who the “I” is in this verse. It seems as if it could be the one who begins the chapter, which would be Christ. But he is our salvation and our righteousness, so this must be his people, those he came to redeem. The final verse says it is the Sovereign Lord who will “make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations.” This is what God has done in us, for us, to us, and through us, and it will all reflect His glory. His Church, the Body of his Son, His called out ones, these will reflect as a mirror his very person in a fallen world among people in rebellion to their maker.