"1 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
for the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
and to proclaim that captives will be released
and prisoners will be freed.
2 He has sent me to tell those who mourn
that the time of the Lord’s favor has come…" (Isaiah 61:1-2a, NLT)
Ray Ortlund notes,
Just telling people to be happy won’t work. That’s annoying. But the gospel doesn’t do that. It gives us a hope beyond everything that beats us down. The Apostle Peter called it “joy…inexpressible and filled with glory” (1 Peter 1:8). That is Christ’s gift to the world today. His mission is to bring good news to the poor and to bind up the brokenhearted and to proclaim liberty to the captives and to comfort all who mourn and anoint them with gladness, so that Yahweh may be glorified. And he has made us partners with him in that mission. ( Isaiah: God Saves Sinners, p. 395-396, by Raymond C. Ortlund, Jr.)
It is that last bit that is quite remarkable. Jesus has made us partners in the world-renewing (!) mission of the proclamation of the good news. This news accomplishes re-newal, re-storation, re-creation, re-freshment. That’s how powerful it is, and we’re part of it. At this message and our part in proclaiming it, we should have great joy!
Martin Lloyd-Jones explains the prophetic power of the people of God this way:
As we face the modern world with all its trouble and turmoil and with all its difficulties and sadness, nothing is more important than that we who call ourselves Christian, and who claim the Name of Christ, should be representing our faith in such a way before others as to give them the impression that here is the solution, and here is the answer. In a world where everything has gone so sadly astray, we should be standing out as men and women apart, people characterized by a fundamental joy and certainty in spite of conditions, in spite of adversity.
Friends, the joy of the church is the hope of the world.