Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Isaiah 61:1 "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners."
When Jesus came into our world, what is it He came to accomplish and experience? No doubt He came to experience what it was like to be a man. The incarnation of the Son of God involved Him taking unto His Person true humanity. Apart from never having sinned, Jesus Christ endured the frailties, limitations, momentary joys and more-often-than-not heartbreaks of what it means to be a human being.
In the above opening verse, Isaiah is predicting what would be the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. Isaiah's prophetic telescope saw one coming of Christ. It would take the lenses of further prophetic revelation by the later Old Testament prophets and especially the New Testament to show that what Isaiah was seeing was Christ's first coming in Isaiah 61:1 and His second coming in Isaiah 61:2.
The Gospels allude to Isaiah 61 as referring to Jesus ministry (see Matthew 11:5 and Luke 7:22). Jesus' words to John the Baptist were that He was indeed the One of prophetic anticipation. In Luke 4:18 we find Jesus' first recorded reading of scripture. As He reads out of the scroll of Isaiah, we see Him reading this very text of Isaiah 61, with Him stopping at the appropriate place in verse 1 of that chapter and exclaiming that its very words were fulfilled by Him. Jesus came to minister to the "brokenhearted and crushed in spirit".
In our last post we explored those two terms: namely "brokenhearted" and "crushed in spirit". We discovered that God permits His people to undergo seasons of hardship that can crush the spirit or the innermost being. Such crushing of the spirit breaks us into pieces on the inside so that He who is already on the inside can work the deeper work in getting His influence to affect us from the inside to the outside. Such breakage of the heart or crushing of the spirit is jarring at first. We find out though that for those who yield to God's inner and deeper working, marvelous experiences of His grace are discovered.
In today's post we want to explore how it is that Jesus came to experience what it was like to not only minister first hand to those "crushed in spirit", but to experience such a state Himself.
Whatever Christ came to redeem, He became what He came to redeem
When Jesus came to experience what it was like to be a man, He experienced the full-orbed reality of total humanity. Jesus redeemed what He came to redeem by becoming a man in every sense of the word. He never sinned but He came to be treated as such. He experienced what it was like to undergo heartache and a "crushing of the spirit". God is described in Isaiah 57:15 "For thus says the high and exalted One
Who lives forever, whose name is Holy,
“I dwell on a high and holy place,
And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit In order to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite." God as God could sympathize with man, since He had made man. However, when the Person of the Son became incarnate, that mean as God He could not only sympathize but empathize. Hebrews 2:14 reminds us: "Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil." Or again, Hebrews 2:18 "For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted." In order for Jesus to redeem and bring healing to our damaged emotions, crushed spirits and broken hearts, He had to experience the same.
Jesus came to be crushed in spirit and to have His heart broken
Does the idea of Jesus' experiencing a crushing of his human spirit and experiencing a broken heart startle you? We tend to forget how human Jesus of Nazareth was. How far did the incarnation go? Isaiah 53:5 begins with the notion of "surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. We esteem Him stricken by God and afflicted". In as much as Christ dies for our sins, He also bore in His body the collateral damage of sin and a fallen world: namely the broken emotions and human psyche, the wrenched hearts and wounded spirits of people. He was rejected and despised and betrayed. Jesus was not a pretend human being - He was flesh and blood humanity with a true soul and spirit. This thought ought not to jar us, but comfort us. He knows all about it!
How else could the Eternal Son of God, Immanuel, who became flesh, heal us in our hearts and put us back together in our spirits lest He too underwent such agonies? He did it for you. He did it for me. When our spirits are crushed and hearts are broken, God in His permissive will is bringing us into contact with a powerful healing stream of His grace that can only be found in Jesus.
Consider these words from 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. 6 But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; 7 and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort."
Like railroad tracks running parallel to one another, both suffering and comfort run side-by-side in the Christian life. In the center of this text is Christ. He still endures suffering with His people in that their struggles, heartaches and crushing of spirits are the subject matter of His intercessions on our behalf. He suffered once-for-all for sin on the cross (1 Peter 3:18) and He ever endures with His church by bearing those burdens on His heart in prayer. Jesus Christ has retained His true humanity in the heavenly realms. Those railroad tracks of Christian suffering and comfort are seen meeting off in the distance in Him. In Christ we find a place for the brokenhearted and shattered in spirit. As man He knows all about it. As God, He can do something about it.
By His resurrection He came forth with healing power to bind up the broken hearted and to revive the crushed in spirit
As a final thought for today, we musn't think God's permissive will includes leaving the believer in a permanent state of being crushed in spirit and broken in heart. When Christ raised from the dead, He brought with Him all the healing power to bind up the broken heart. We are broken in order to be healed. Christ experienced this was well. In the famous text of Isaiah 53, we not only see predictions of Christ death, but also of His resurrection. Notice Isaiah 53:10-11 "But the Lord was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring,
He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand. 11 As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities." As the old song goes: "Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives, all fear is gone. Because I know He holds the future, and life is worth the living just, because He lives."