He has sent me to . . . provide for those who grieve in Zion—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. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.
Everyone loves a before and after picture. To appreciate the restoration, you need to see the pictures of the old, dilapidated structure now turned into a stunning new home. To marvel at a life-changing transformation in someone’s life, you need to see where they’ve been. Imagine someone in dire straits enslaved in addiction and homeless, but now free from that slavery, off the streets, and living in luxury. A complete turnaround gives complete joy.
Look at the incredible transformation Jesus brings about in the lives he touches. In the prophet Isaiah’s time, ashes were used to outwardly display inward sorrow over one’s sin. Jesus wipes the ashes away because he has removed every sin. In place of the ashes, he gives a crown of victory, a mark of royalty. He puts an end to mourning and instead pours out the oil of joy. In ancient times, oil was used as an ointment to heal and soothe. Jesus brings healing to wounded hearts, he even transforms from death to life. He bestows a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. The transformation isn’t just on the surface. He transforms the heart. He takes a soul in despair and gives it every reason to rejoice.
It is a complete transformation. No wonder we have such complete joy!
Come, King Jesus, and bestow gifts that only you can give! Amen.