Freedom for the Oppressed

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.” (Luke 4:18 KJ)

This verse is the mission statement for the ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ. After Jesus had endured the temptations of the adversary He returned to Galilee and began His ministry. Early on a Sabbath morning Jesus entered in the synagogue at Nazareth and stood before the people to read. He was handed the book of the Prophet Isaiah and He opened it to the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, And recovery of sight to the blind, To set free those who are oppressed, To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.” When Jesus had finished reading this Scripture He took His seat and all eyes were upon Him in amazement. He then spoke these words. “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:21) Thus His three year ministry had begun. We find that much of the life and ministry of God’s Son was foretold many years before by the prophets.

Every deed of Jesus and every word that was spoken from His mouth came from a pure heart. He is God in the flesh and there is no iniquity within Him. Jesus lived His life in complete and full obedience to His Heavenly Father. He set the standard for those whose desire was to see God. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8) It is a standard that no man has or will achieve while living in this world. He lived a pure life from the pure heart that He had as the Son of God born of a Virgin Woman. Jesus lived a life that was worthy of a perfect sacrifice to pay the debt of sin for the world. There is no other way that any man will enter in to the Kingdom of God except through Jesus for He is the door to life everlasting. “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” (John 10:9)

Man in his nature is a prideful creature. He seeks his own way and revels in his own accomplishment and thinks dependency is a weakness. Yet man’s dependency is completely upon the grace of God. God is the Creator of all that man sees and knows. God is the provider and all things and through Him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:17) Man’s pride denies God’s glory which He richly deserves and a prideful heart will meet its just reward. “Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD; Assuredly, he will not be unpunished.” (Proverbs 16:5)

Jesus came to preach the gospel to the poor. The poor who know their dependence upon God for their sustenance in life here and the life to follow in the word to come. Those who trust God for their physical wellbeing and realize that only through Him will they receive spiritual nourishment. Man all too often neglects his spiritual life in pursuit of physical pleasure. They sacrifice the eternal spiritual state for the fleeting of time in the physical world. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3)

Moses when he was commissioned by God to go down to Egypt and free the Israelite people from their bondage of slavery gave the people hope in the promise of freedom. Their hope came for the good news that Moses delivered that the Lord God would deliver them. And they bowed down and worshiped God “So the people believed; and when they heard that the LORD was concerned about the sons of Israel and that He had seen their affliction, then they bowed low and worshiped.” (Exodus 4:31) This is the message that Jesus was to give to the lost sheep of Israel, freedom from their bondage to sin. Jesus gave them the Gospel that through Him they could be reconciled to God and find salvation. This was a message that give the people a vision and filled their hearts with hope. A life without hope is pointless but now they had a reason to live and live eternally in the abundant provision of God. Jesus is the way, the way to restore our relationship with God our Creator. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6)

Jesus was sent to heal the brokenhearted. The heart of many a man is sick from the ravages of sinful living. The heart of many a man is lost in his own self-centered living. He looks from within himself for the answers to life’s questions rather than the eternal truths of God’s Word. “The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) The truth of God’s Word can cause a soul to realize the weight of sinful living that burdens one down. When a man realizes that he is so far down in the pit and there is no place to go but to the Lord his heart is broken and contrite. God will not turn away a broken and contrite heart. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17)

Jesus offers the repentant heart the sacrifice of His life that the sinner can find his life. The wounds of the past are healed by the Great Physician. “He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3) At the end of Jesus’ ministry He went willingly to the Roman cross and gave His life as ransom for the many that were dead in their sins. He paid the price for their transgressions and rose from the grave that through Him they can have eternal life in the Kingdom of God. He loved us so much that He took it all that we would not have to bear it. “And He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.” (1 Peter 2:24)

Jesus came to preach deliverance to the captives. We are all held captive as we walk in the shadow of death. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) Everyone will face death one day and then comes the judgment. “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27) Jesus bore the wage of our sin and if we accept in faith this gift of His love we can have eternal life. This is the hope that a Christian has that death is not an end but a doorway to their inheritance from the riches of God’s glory. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.” (1 Peter 1:3-4)

Too many have fallen far from the truth. Many a false prophet has come to lead people astray from the narrow straight path that leads to the Promised Land. They are in denial and cannot grasp the truth of the eternity that has been placed in their heart. “He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

How can they not see the glory of God in His creation? How can they not hear the words of His truth given to us by the sacrifice of His saints? How can they not feel the power of God as the lightning flashes across the sky? How has man become so blind? The god of this world has found a stronghold in the deceiving hearts of men and blinded them to the truth. “In whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:4)

Jesus came to recover the sight of the blind that they may see the truth. If they could but come to Jesus and call upon His name they would be set free. “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13) Jesus understands us and knows us better than we ourselves. “For the heart of this people has become dull, With their ears they scarcely hear, And they have closed their eyes, Otherwise they would see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, And understand with their heart and return, And I would heal them.” (Matthew 13:15) If one would call upon Him and trust Him and walk with Him in faith, then He would heal their sight to see the truth of His word. Their thinking would become clear and a new direction would evolve for their life. They would find liberty from the sins of their past and He would keep them safe in the palm of His hand.

He will set them at liberty by forgiving them of their sins—and keep them free. He will preach the acceptable year of the Lord—the time is now—and instill them with urgency. Each of these steps is Him working on our mind. They would be indwelled by His Spirit which would empower them to live a life of good work. “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.” (2 Corinthians 9:8)

A life drifting in the current of the sea has no direction, no hope, and no power. This is the broad road where we are victims of circumstance waiting for our destruction. If we turn to Jesus and follow Him in faith, then we will have the empowerment to become Children of God. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” (John 1:12 KJV)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, November 27, 2015

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