He’s Got the Joy, Joy, Joy

Text: Isaiah 61:1–4, 8–11

  • Isaiah’s word of prophecy about the Servant, the Messiah, is like a greeting card designed to tell us about God’s perfect gift at Christmas. Why does the Savior hold our attention and elicit our praise year in and year out beginning at Christmas? The fullness of the Spirit of God was poured out on our Lord, endowing him with the gifts he needed for his ministry. I pray that same Spirit attracts you and me to him today and every Christmas season.
  • Isaiah has taken his readers/hearers through the guilt-admitting song of the Suffering Servant (52 and 53) to a glimpse of future glory and salvation reaching beyond Israel’s borders (54–56). Chapters 57–59 call for justice but stress that the only hope lies in what God shall yet do. Is 59:20 is pivotal: “The Redeemer will come to Zion.”
  • The verses omitted by the Lectionary (61:5–7) should be noted, The promise of joy ‘olam (“forever”) at the end of v 7 also is a needed transition to the second half of our text.
  • The people rejected the prophet’s preaching of the law and turned a deaf ear to his pleas for repentance and reform. 
  • Lk. 4:16-21 
  • 16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 
  • Jesus probably read the passage in Hebrew and then it was paraphrased by another in Aramaic.

17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 18 "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." 20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."

  • Anointing with oil was a very common practice at times of joy.
  • Anointing with oil was also put upon the head of an honored guest at a banquet.
  • the olive oil used for good gave a very healthy glow to an individual’s face.
  • the oil used when Aaron was consecrated as priest for Israel actually ran down his face his beard and on his clothes to show the total consecration to the service of the Lord. The oil was also used to treat wounds for healing garment of praise verses garment of vengeance.
  • Jesus was not anointed with actual oil but this word is used to describe the presence of the Holy Spirit.  The dove at His baptism certainly points to "anointing" and the declaration of His Father.
  • Both the oil - forgiveness and consecration plus the garment of Christ's righteousness is necessary for salvation.  God's grace is for all but it is made personal in the person of Jesus Christ for all who believe that he is the one who was promised.
  • The 7-fold gift of the Spirit of the Lord = Isaiah 11:2 And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; (Isa. 11:4 ESV)
  • "Now the Lord is the Spirit and where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom" 2Cor. 3:17 
  • the presence of the Spirit is the true test to truth of God's presence.
  • Davidic Covenant + the Servant Messiah = Isaiah 61
  • But if we ready further in Luke, in response to this wonderful message of JOY – they wanted to throw Jesus off the side of a cliff and stone Him!!


  • The liberty bell in the USA has this passage written on it!
  • These words are spoken in prophetic fashion as if Jesus was standing right there with Isaiah speaking it Himself – HE WAS!!

V 2 

  • Freedom is tied to (Lev 25:8–10) the celebration of the year of everyone has a clean slate. Year of Jubilee
  • the year of the Lord's favor is now in Christ.  The day of vengeance comes with Christ's second coming.
  • comfort - "to breathe easy"

V 3

  • He has sent me to provide for all those who grieve in Zion, to give them crowns instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of tears of grief, and clothes of praise instead of a spirit of weakness. They will be called Oaks of Righteousness, the Plantings of the LORD, so that he might display his glory. (GWN)
  • the crown is a turban, a headdress of great beauty.  Often used during a wedding liturgy or marriag3e feast of the Lamb who was slain!
  • The planting of a tree is often spoke in the old testament to describe the righteous in faith - this tree is not bothered by the blowing wind and it serves as a blessing to animals and man as food and shade!
  • The planting is a renewed vigor of youth and strength as well as a rejoicing in the just discrimination of God as he judges the wicked and Satan.
  • Luther wrote: “It follows therefore that a Christian does not just come into being, but he is planted and produced by the work of God. Christ is the gardener. Therefore a Christian is a divine work and a planting of God. For through the Word he is uprooted from the world and transplanted into this garden and watered. . . . What lovely trees they are, having ‘thanksgiving’ imprinted on them!” (American Edition 17:336). 
  • The Servant/Messiah will not simply throw words at the poor! Rather, his performative words impart what they announce 

V 3: 

  • Christians know there is a wide, undeniable gap between the way the world is and the way God intended it to be. This gap, caused by sin, is the ultimate source of all despair and grief. 
  • A dramatic transformation is described (beauty instead of ashes, gladness instead of mourning, praise instead of despair). This kind of transformation, which is nothing less than a reversal of the fall of man, can be made only by a merciful God. 

V 4: 

  • Ancient ruins; are not really “ancient” ruins (70 years) but to the exiles it FEELS like it has been suffering for a long long time! – COVID connection 


  • Lots of “baptismal “language and theology here in the verse
  • The delight is emphatic in the Hebrew: “Joyfully I rejoice.” 
  • The preposition which occurs twice in the opening clause locates the object and source of the rejoicing: “in the Lord . . . in my God.”

V 11 

  • “The Almighty Lord, Israel’s God of grace, who creates and rules over all things [will] cause salvation and honor to spring up before all nations, so that they cannot fail to observe and acknowledge it” (Pieper, p. 614).
  • The fruit of faith grows and sprouts like seeds in a garden. Isaiah speaks a word of promise.
  • The mood is one of joy because the Lord has adorned his people in garments of salvation and righteousness. The garment of Christ’s righteousness is placed on us in baptism (Gal 3:27). 
  • The perfect gift God gives us at Christmas is Jesus Christ. Nothing we receive later Christmas Eve or on Christmas Day will be perfect, except that holy gift from heaven above, the Christ Child. It is the only truly perfect gift for you and me because HE brings Joy, Joy, Joy!! Amen.