This is an excerpt from my upcoming book, The Story of Grace. It is taken from the chapter, The Story of the Pharisees.
The Old Testament foretells that when the Savior-King comes, the Christ, he will reveal God’s grace to people. His lips will be anointed with grace. It foretells that when the story of God’s unconditional love, unmerited kindness, and unlimited forgiveness unfolds through the Christ, it will intersect with the story of people’s lives, forever changing their lives. The following verses give us further insight into the graceful disposition of the coming Savior-King and the unfolding of the story of God’s grace in the lives of people:
"Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out..."
Isaiah 42:1-3 & Matthew 12:18-20
The healing words of grace describing the coming Savior-King, God’s servant, are beautiful in these verses. These verses tell us that when the Christ comes he will not be loud and harmful, but loving and healing. He will not beat people down further with yelling and screaming, but will lift people up with gentleness and grace. Very gently, he will bring healing to the bruised and broken, and hope to the hopeless. A bruised reed, illustrating a person who has been beaten and bruised by sin, will find healing through the grace of Jesus. A smoldering wick, illustrating a person who is on the verge of losing all hope because of sin, will find hope through the grace of Jesus. As his grace flows into the hearts of the hurting and hopeless, they will be set free and released from the imprisonment of their pain. Their eyes will be opened by the beauty of his grace as these verses below indicate:
"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor..."
The year of the Lord’s favor is referring to God’s grace when his unconditional love, unmerited kindness, and unlimited forgiveness is announced by Christ to the poor, or to those who are aware of their unrighteousness and who are hurting from their sin. It refers to a time when God’s grace is announced to those imprisoned with guilt, shame, and condemnation, to those who can’t see any way out of the darkness of their broken and hopeless condition, and to those who are oppressed, or weighed down and tormented with regret because of all they have done. When Jesus announces the good news of God’s unconditional love, unmerited kindness, and unlimited forgiveness to the hurting, condemned, broken, hopeless, and tormented, then freedom, hope, joy, and peace will come. As people see the beauty of God’s grace through the gentleness of Jesus, chains will be broken, hope will be restored, and peace will come. Guilt, shame, and condemnation will be replaced with freedom and joy in their hearts.
As a 30 year old adult, when attending his childhood synagogue in Nazareth, Jesus read Isaiah 61:1-2 to the congregation, the verses we just read. After reading these verses, he said, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Jesus was declaring he was the one who Isaiah said was to come and announce the time of God’s grace. The people initially responded by speaking well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips (Luke 4:22). Not only were these verses fulfilled in the presence of those listening to Jesus read from Isaiah, but they were also fulfilled in the lives of all the hurting, broken, condemned, hopeless, and tormented people whose life stories intersected with the story of God’s grace.