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 – Isaiah 61:1
Isaiah 61 is a well-known prophetic text. The prophet Isaiah spoke to a group of people who had fallen away from God and were about to experience the consequences of their sin, exile and captivity. Israel would spend 70 years in a land not their own, unable to worship God in the way that they were taught. Nonetheless, in the midst of the prophetic correction and consequence, the prophet brings a message of hope. Good news is proclaimed of a God who cares.
Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.
Jesus proclaimed to the people of Nazareth, in Luke 4:21, that He is the fulfillment of this text. So, although we are studying in the book of Ezra the rebuilding of the temple, Jesus says that the ultimate proclamation of freedom comes in Christ Himself. He claims that the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon Him! It is He who came to bind up the brokenhearted!
Although many of us would claim that we have freedom by virtue of living in America, it is common for us to blame other things for our problems. It is always our boss, our mother or father, our landlord, or any other of a list of perpetrators who have wronged us and are at fault for the circumstances of our lives. Unknowingly, every time we say these things, we are proclaiming the people who we have allowed to hold us in captivity. Perhaps the worst captivity of all is proclaimed when we say “the devil made me do it.” While Jesus affirms in John 8:34 that everyone who sins is a slave to sin, he also proclaims that if the Son sets you free, you are truly free (John 8:36). This is the message that Jesus came to Earth to proclaim. Whatever has had a hold on you, Jesus proclaims freedom for the captive. If He has proclaimed you free, why would you remain behind bars? You no longer need to remain in sin. Rather, exercise your freedom from the bonds of sin!
Release from darkness
The only reason that I can imagine that people would remain in captivity when they have been given their freedom is if the darkness was so complete that it seemed impossible to find your way out. Jesus has the answer for that too. Where there is no hope, Jesus came to proclaim release from darkness!
Moving into the Easter season, we are going to spend a lot of time talking about the freedom and victory that Jesus came to bring. Let this season be a season where Christ restores your hope in what is possible if He has His way in you!