The Beatitudes just get more and more interesting the more I stare at them. Consider this connection.
When Jesus launches His public ministry, as told by the gospel writer Luke, He is the guest speaker at a synagogue in Nazareth. He is asked to read from the book of Isaiah. He chooses the text to read, and He reads from Isaiah 61.1-2. As Luke tells us:
16He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. 17The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: 18“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, 19to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 20Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, 21and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4.16-21)
Isaiah 61 speaks of the “year of the Lord’s favor,” blessing if you will. At this time, good news will be preached to the poor (1), the broken-hearted will be bound up (1), those who mourn will be comforted (2), the disgraced will rejoice (7), the ruined cities will be renewed (4), victims of injustice will be rewarded (8), and the people will be blessed by YHWH (9). Sound familiar?
Some see this connection as more than coincidence. The Suffering Servant announces Himself and His ministry with the opening words of the Sermon. Jesus both described Himself in the Beatitudes (Jesus was poor, meek, merciful, persecuted, etc.) and described the Year of the Lord’s favor that the Messiah had come to bring (i.e., Isaiah 61).
What does this connection between the Beatitudes and Isaiah 61 do to our understanding and application of the Beatitudes? How does it impact our reading of the text?