I love the ‘layers’ that we see in Scripture, particularly in the prophetic utterances of the Old Testament.
Take any passage and the message would have had a powerful meaning to its original hearers. Centuries later, for some portions, there’s a clear fulfilment of those words in the person and ministry of Jesus Christ. Then, often, we can see the same words, relevant to us in the church age today.
For example, consider the magnificent declarations of Isaiah 61:
‘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 broken-hearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners.’
Earlier in chapter 11 of Isaiah, the prophet had described a new ‘branch’ emerging from old roots. Israel, devastated after God’s judgment, will see a new era and a new king: the promised Messiah. ‘The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him’ (11: 2) – a Spirit of wisdom, knowledge and power. In chapter 61, the new king will bring good news, healing and freedom. Those in captivity in Babylon would have drawn comfort with the promise of better days ahead.
But centuries later, God’s words still sought another ‘layer’ of fulfilment and found it in Jesus on the day he walked into a synagogue where he read the same ancient prophecies of Isaiah 61 to a small group of faithful believers in Nazareth. After rolling up the scroll he said, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4: 21).
Having just received the anointing of the Spirit descending on him like a dove at His baptism (Mark 1: 10), Jesus proceeded to proclaim the good news of the Kingdom to the poor in spirit, he healed the sick and he released the demonised from their dark prisons. Everyone, including his own disciples, was amazed.
But even as his own disciples struggled to process words from an old scroll coming to life before their very eyes, nothing could have prepared them for Jesus’ declaration that they – yes, they “will do even greater things than these” (John 14: 12).
In other words, says Jesus, ‘there’s still another layer to Isaiah’s prophecy to be fulfilled – the Spirit of the Lord is also upon you!’
The call to preach the good news, proclaim freedom for captives, bind up the brokenhearted, release the oppressed rested upon them and now upon us – the church – and is doable because His anointing is on us too. He has anointed us with His Spirit, the same Spirit that came upon Isaiah to proclaim God’s words and the same Spirit that descended upon Jesus to preach the kingdom, heal the sick and drive out demons. We are anointed too.
‘You are the body of Christ’ said Paul in 1 Cor 12: 27. If we are anointed by the Spirit of God too, what might that look like for you today?
Suggested prayer: Ask God for a fresh infilling of His Spirit. For his anointing to do the things he has purposed you to do today. Ask Him to use you in His Kingdom plans. Then thank Him for what he is about to do.