He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released … — Excerpt Luke 4:18 (NLT)
Jesus said it right at the beginning, before He even began to do anything or say anything. These were His first words before He started out on His ministry and His teaching and His travelling throughout the region.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the LORD’s favour has come.
Luke 4:18 (NLT)
What a beginning, what a declaration, and what a promise! Can you imagine launching a new business, a new ministry, or even a new church with that declaration? We’re going to bring Good News to the poor; we’re going to set the captives free; we’re going to make the blind see; we’re going to put an end to oppression and injustice; and we proclaim that the LORD, our God, is going to make this happen through us.
People would flock from miles around, wouldn’t they? Or, would they? Perhaps not. The initial reaction may be of wonder and awe, but then in creeps the doubts. Good News to the poor? Really? What is good news to the poor, and are they really interested in the news anyway? Surely, all they want to see is some relief from their poverty? You’re going to set the captives free? Really? Don’t they deserve to be captive in the first place? They’re in jail for a reason, aren’t they? And you’re going to just release them? Not sure about that one! And how on earth are you going to cure blindness? We have the most modern medical technology available to us today, and even they can’t cure all blindness. Pah! And as for putting an end to oppression and injustice, we’ve heard it all before. It will never end.
Let’s just deal with the captives for now. We don’t really want them released, do we? They have a penalty to pay for the wrongs that they did, and that’s why they are captive in the first place. Maybe, but there are others who are captives today in society. To some degree, we all are.
We are all captive to the capitalist society we live in. We have no freedom, except the freedom that may be purchased by the pennies we own. If we want freedom to travel, we must pay for the fare or the fuel; if we want freedom to live where we want to live, we must pay the rent or the mortgage; and if we want freedom to do as we please, we must pay for the privilege, and we are captive to whatever the source of our income is, whether a job or a career or a business or state benefits. We are all captive in this way.
But many of us are captive in other ways; we are captive in ways that are harmful or hurtful. We are captive to our thoughts, our desires, our habits, our compulsive behaviours, our addictions, or even our own characters, and sometimes captive to our ill-health and inability to do the things we would love to do. We are who we are, and that is not always conducive to a good life. We are stuck, fixed, bound, confined, restricted, enslaved, imprisoned and captive to our condition.
And Jesus proclaims: “captives will be released.”
When we come to know Jesus, when we come to understand something of Scripture, when we come to see the story of the Bible – that Christ came to set us free of our sinful state, to pay for all our wrongs, to release us from the responsibility of striving to get things right in our lives – we are set free, we are no longer captive. Jesus keeps His promises – “captives will be released.”
And when we are released, we are released with a new responsibility – to help others find freedom. We are released to release others. We are released to share the Good News, we are released to share our own story, we are released to share the story of God’s love for us all and how He wants all captives to be released and everyone to be free from our struggles and our striving.
May we pray: Thank You, Lord, that you set the captives free. Thank You, heavenly Father that you want us to hear the Good News, and that you want to release us from our struggles. Help us find our way, and help us as we help others find their way. We ask this in the precious name of our Saviour, Christ Jesus; Amen.
If you are captive to your thoughts, your desires, your habits, your compulsive behaviour, or for any other reason, we would love to hear from you – please get in touch. Don’t feel as though you have to battle alone. May God Bless You, and may He set you free.
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