The Book of Isaiah is famous for its messianic prophecies. They include the announcement of his coming (Isa 40:3-5), his virgin birth (7:14), his proclamation of the good news (61:1-3), his sacrificial death (52:13-53:12), and his return to claim His own (60:2-3). So, while Jesus was in the synagogue in Nazareth, he read from the Book of Isaiah either by divine providence or because the synagogue attendant wanted to know how Jesus would interpret Isaiah’s prophesies. The public in Capernaum had already understood Jesus as the Messiah before he read this passage in Nazareth.
Isaiah prophesied during the reign of Judean kings Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah (Isa 1:1) and died under the evil King Manasseh. Isaiah must have lived in Jerusalem (Isa 1:1). He prophesied from 739 to 681 B.C. to the southern kingdom of Judea that turned away from God. The Assyrians had taken the northern kingdom of Israel into captivity in 722 B.C. The kingdom of Judah was in spiritual turmoil because of their idolatry and sinful life. The Assyrians and the uprising of the Babylonians were threatening the southern kingdom.
According to the Prophet Isaiah, God made use of the pagan nations and their captivity as instruments to discipline sinful Israel. However, Isaiah gave the people hope that the promised Messiah would come to establish the golden age of peace and prosperity. The literal meaning of Isaiah is “Yahweh saves.” His name and message are the same as of Joshua and Jesus, who were also instruments of God’s saving power.
Isaiah’s preaching was for repentance from sin to avoid the Babylonian invasion and to gain divine protection. He prophesied a better future through the Messiah. We have received that Christ who fulfilled the Messianic prophesies. Let us listen to our bishops and priests who are the modern prophets and representatives of Jesus.