We are slaves set free. We were once in bondage to sin, but now we are free indeed! Jesus’ ministry was focused on this very thing. He came to proclaim liberty to the captives. In Luke 4 He stood up in the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and with a boldness that shocked and angered those who heard Him, He declared that these words from Isaiah 61 were being fulfilled in their hearing: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Notice the way that these words from Isaiah characterize Jesus’ ministry. It involves preaching. Jesus came to proclaim the good news—the Gospel. But also notice who He’s preaching to. He’s proclaiming good news to the poor, liberty to the captives, recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed. I believe these descriptions speak primarily of spiritual oppression. Blindness, poverty, bondage, oppression can all be ways of describing our spiritual condition apart from Christ. But we should not overlook the fact that Jesus gravitated toward those who were literally, physically poor and oppressed. Later in Luke 4, Jesus frees a man from demonic oppression, and He heals many. He had a special compassion for the hurting, for the poor, for the oppressed.
In light of this, here are some ways we can emulate Jesus’ ministry of proclaiming liberty to the captives.
- Fight to live in the freedom which Christ purchased for us. Do not go back to your bondage to addictions or to legalism. Do not live in bondage to worry or fear or shame. Know that you are a sinner set free. Don’t let those former slave masters control you.
- Proclaim this Gospel freedom to others. Pray for the enslaved individuals around you who are shackled by sin, guilt, religion. Be a herald of this message of liberty.
- Forgive. Don’t be a slave master by trying to keep people in bondage to your disapproval, to your bitterness toward them. Cut the cords of those grudges which you are using to bind up those who have hurt you. Let them be free from the anger and bitterness you hold against them.
- Look for ways to participate in bringing literal, physical liberty to those who are poor and oppressed. For example, combat human-trafficking and find ways to help the victims. Speak up for the sanctity of human life on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves. Help orphans and widows and refugees. Support organizations which provide practical help to those in poverty, both locally and around the world.
Let us be a people who relish the freedom bought for us by Christ. And as liberated people, let us, in turn, proclaim this message of liberty to others.