February 18, 2017
Read: Isaiah 61:1–6
Bible in a Year: Leviticus 23–24; Mark 1:1–22
[The Lord bestows] on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning.—Isaiah 61:3
By its very existence, a ministry center in Rwanda called the “Lighthouse” symbolizes redemption. It sits on land where during the genocide in 1994 the country’s president owned a grand home. This new structure, however, has been erected by Christians as a beacon of light and hope. Housed there is a Bible institute to raise up a new generation of Christian leaders, along with a hotel, restaurant, and other services for the community. Out of the ashes has come new life. Those who built the Lighthouse look to Jesus as their source of hope and redemption.
When Jesus went to the synagogue in Nazareth on the Sabbath, He read from the book of Isaiah and announced that He was the Anointed One to proclaim the Lord’s favor (see Luke 4:14-21). He was the One who came to bind up the brokenhearted and offer redemption and forgiveness. In Jesus we see beauty coming from the ashes (Isa. 61:3).
We find the atrocities of the Rwandan genocide, when intertribal fighting cost more than a half-million lives, mind-boggling and harrowing, and we hardly know what to say about them. And yet we know that the Lord can redeem the atrocities—either here on earth or in heaven. He who bestows the oil of joy instead of mourning gives us hope even in the midst of the darkest of situations. —Amy Boucher Pye
Lord Jesus Christ, our hearts hurt when we hear about the pain and suffering that some endure. Have mercy, we pray.
Jesus came to bring us hope in the darkest of circumstances.
INSIGHT: Jesus announced His mission by reading from this messianic prophecy in Isaiah 61, a text that clearly anticipated His ministry to the marginalized and hurting (Luke 4:18-19). He offers good news, healing, freedom, release, and joy to supplant the heartaches that inevitably come our way. Jesus went to the cross to deal with the root cause of our brokenness—sin—so that one day we could experience an eternity where “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Rev. 21:4). Jesus-followers can likewise be involved in important ministries of help and encouragement for the hurting. In what ways has Jesus responded to your own hurts and needs? In what ways can you respond to the needs of those around you who are hurting? Bill Crowder
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