Isaiah 61:1,3 – “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to grant those who mourn in Zion – to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.”
Isaiah wrote these beautiful words in Isaiah 61. Isaiah was inspired by God to write these words, which explains how this could apply to more than just Isaiah. As Jesus came home to the synagogue in Nazareth, he stood up and read Isaiah 61. As he sat down, people stared at him as he said, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Jesus was claiming to be the fulfillment of Isaiah’s words in Isaiah 61. He was the one anointed to preach the good news to the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and to take those who were mourning and cause them to be glad.
The good news that Jesus proclaimed was proclaimed by word and by deed. With his mouth, he declared that the kingdom of heaven was at hand. Because of this declaration, now is the time to repent! But not only did he proclaim this good news with his mouth, but also by dying on the cross and being raised from the dead, Jesus became the good news that sets captives free. This proclamation is the gospel of Jesus Christ.
When you break down Isaiah’s words, you hear what is being proclaimed (the good news), what happens because of this good news, and why this good news was proclaimed in the first place.
Because Christ died and was raised, the brokenhearted are bound, captives are freed, the bound in prison are released, the mourning rejoice and are glad, the faint open their lips to praise, and their heads are decked with beauty and not ashes. Simply put, the sinners are saved. The lost are found. The enslaved are set free.
Christ died and saved sinners in order to make the sinners, “oaks of righteousness” so that God himself may be glorified. Isaiah says that the enslaved are set free “that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.” Jesus preached and died, saved sinners, so that sinners may be called oaks of righteousness to the glory of God. Talk about transformation and change! If you are a sinner saved by grace, you are an oak of righteousness for the glory of God.
Consider how significant that word picture is. The oak tree is a tree that symbolizes strength and fortitude. When I consider one who is the symbol of strength and fortitude with respect to righteousness, I think of Jesus himself. That’s the point. When we are saved by grace, we are conformed to the image of Christ as we become symbols of righteous strength and fortitude.
As you consider that reality and the beautiful words of Isaiah, fulfilled in Jesus, is your life rightly described by what the gospel accomplishes? Would others look at you and say that they see you as an “oak of righteousness”? You may laugh as you consider that thought. But stop your laughing! That is Jesus’ desire for us in this evil world; to live as oaks of righteousness to the glory of God the Father.