Instead of Ashes

Today's devotion from Isaiah 60-62. Isaiah 61 gives us tremendous encouragement. The prophet explains that He has been anointed by the Spirit of God for a special ministry centering on providing good news to the poor. What is this good news? He was sent to heal the brokenhearted. He could proclaim liberty to the captives. He taught of the year of favor and the day of wrath. He comforted those who mourned. He encouraged with the knowledge that God would give a crown of beauty, festive oil, and brilliant clothes in the place of the ashes and sackcloth of grief.

More incredible than the prophet's ministry to his people in his own time, the Gospel of Luke reveals that these verses were incredibly important in the ministry of Christ as well. Could you imagine being in attendance of His first public message and hearing Him read these same words? Could you imagine Christ, Himself, proclaiming these facets of the ministry He was about to undertake? Of course, those in attendance didn't know what we know. They probably missed His meaning when He said, "Today as you listen, this scripture has been fulfilled." (Luke 4:21, CSB)

Stop and consider this today. These precious words of hope and encouragement are not waiting to be fulfilled. They were accomplished in the life and ministry of Jesus two thousand years ago. However, their truth continues to reverberate throughout the ages and, in some similar way, apply to us today.

You see, the Great Commission is an extension of the work of Christ. We carry on His mission. When we are surrendered to Him each of us can rightly say, "The Spirit of the Lord GOD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor." (Isaiah 61:1, CSB) These words perfectly describe what happened when the Spirit descended to rest upon and fill every believer that Christ Himself commanded to carry the gospel into the world.

How extraordinary that this unique concept spoken of by the prophet is an every day reality for modern believers?