by Herman Groenewald
I have been reading one of my favourite passages that reminds me again of a calling I received in 1992 in reading Isaiah 61.
We see an Israel at the time under the shadow of Death, the sound of mourning, the ashes, and a spirit of heaviness. Considered as a “worm” by the nations, they had to come to believe in themselves. They needed freedom from these fears. For this the “The Servant of the Lord” has his redemptive work spelled out.
Reflecting on it and looking back at Isaiah 49 & 61 there is such a clear message for all of us. [Read Isaiah 49 and 61 here]
We are all called to servanthood as set out in Isaiah 49 when scripture points to Israel. These passages in Isaiah are very insightful prophecies.
At the centre of history is THE MESSAIAH, God’s chosen instrument through whom redemption will come, not just for Israel but for all nations.
All are called to hear the calling as we read the Word. And so many of us have answered the call. Not only to hear but to take the message to others. 49:6b.” I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach …”
God is the one who formed the nation Israel which is called to be God’s servant. The Messiah is formed from the womb and named before birth. (Isa 7:14). Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
And so, the vocation of the servant is also given in the passages.
It follows on in Isaiah 61 (The song of the Servant) where we are shown and told about His role and calling. The fact that Jesus quoted this passage for the announcement of His public ministry (Luke 4:17–19) confirms the connection between Isaiah’s prophecy and Christ’s fulfilment.
I believe that these opening verses of the Song of the Servant give us a model for vision, mission, and of leadership for all generations. This also applies to us as His followers, to follow in His footsteps.
If we were to write a task description from this it can be analysed into a model for others to follow:
His Mandate: • “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me”
His Motivation: • “The LORD has anointed Me:
His Method: • “to preach”
His Message: • “good tidings”
His Market: • “the poor… broken-hearted … captives … those who are bound”
His Measure: • “preach good tidings to the poor … heal the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound”
His Mood: • “to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD and the day of vengeance of our God”
No leader, spiritual or secular, has ever accepted and announced such a detailed and demanding task. A task calls for accountability, and we can see that Jesus fulfils the tasks. And so, we also will be held accountable to our own task.
It is one thing to be effective in the work/task that we are called to do and quite another thing to create and communicate joy as a product of the outcome.
When Jesus quoted Isaiah 61:1 and 2, he concluded his reading of the passage with the words, “To preach the acceptable year of the LORD” (Luke 4:19). Jesus stops before the vengeance part as this would follow at Jesus’s return to complete the task.
We know that Jesus found Joy in His work and the Word refers to the scripture in Isaiah 61 as The Task of Joy.
We know that Jesus found joy in His work despite conflict, disappointment, and suffering. In John 17:13 He asks the Father that His disciples might have “My joy fulfilled in themselves.”
It speaks about 4 things where scripture points out for us and our Task of Joy.
The Task of Joy (61:1–2). – MISSION
1) freedom to live (v. 3).
2) freedom to serve (vv. 4–7).
3) freedom to act (vv. 8–9); and
4) freedom to celebrate (vv. 10–11).
It is so insightful when we read these passages and find the joy in the reading thereof and the deeper message. I trust and hope each of us will find a new message as we read the scripture and consider the model outlined for us.