Garment of Praise - A Reflection on Luke 4:14-22
Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.
When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.
Many years ago Isaiah prophesied: “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, ... to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve, to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair” (Isaiah 61:1-3).
About 2,000 years ago, Jesus went into the temple, picked up the scroll of Isaiah, and read this passage. Then he put the scroll down, looked up at his listeners and said, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21). To say something “is fulfilled” means it has already been done. The person they were all waiting for; the one who would proclaim good news, heal the brokenhearted, give freedom to prisoners; and comfort all who mourned and grieved; that person had come.
Three years later, as he hung on the cross on Calvary, Jesus said, “It is finished” (John 19:30). The entire purpose for his mission was accomplished, which meant that all these things that he came to do were done! He has given us a crown of beauty instead of ashes; he has given us the oil of joy instead of mourning; he has given us a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. So, why do we experience so little of it if he has already accomplished all this? It is because we are not appropriating what is ours.
Let me explain. Are there times in your life when you despair, are despondent, are dejected, or are depressed? Well, Jesus has already given us a garment of praise to be worn! Do we wear the garment? No, we don’t! And that’s where the problem lies. Imagine it is freezing cold, and somebody hands you over a long woolen jacket to wear but you don’t put it on because you think you will look stupid wearing it. But what does not wearing it when you are freezing make you? That is what actually makes you stupid.
It’s the same case here; we have a garment—a garment of praise—but we don’t put it on. How do we put on a ‘garment of praise’? It’s really simple. Open your mouth and start praising the Lord! If you are not used to it, you might feel a little idiotic at first, but would you rather be depressed and dejected? And as you praise God you will soon find that this spirit of despair (notice Scripture calls it a spirit of despair) flees, leaving you joyful again.
So: Praise the Lord!