"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
There are times in history when this verse become paramount, needed by more people, not only for comfort but for their very existence. Now is one of those times.
As we read this scripture, cited from way back in Isaiah, we see it refers to broken people. The poor, the broken-hearted, the captive, blind and bruised arise because all is not right in their world. They feel damaged. Both Isaiah and Jesus could have been talking about a socialist or communist country, but they weren’t. They were talking about the needs of the people of promise. Great healing was necessary.
When Jesus spoke his words he wasn't in a backstreet talking to the city’s homeless, destitute and bewildered unwanted, he was standing in a synagogue speaking to parishioners.
How many of us look at this scripture and thank God? How many have rejoiced that Jesus has healed us of many of these woes, and continues too long after we’re saved?
Thank God this scripture is timeless, and thank Him again that the healing, deliverance and recovery happen as much today as when Jesus spoke those encouraging words to the low-spirited churchgoers 2000 years ago. Their answer had arrived and so has ours.
This year in 2020, due to COVID-19, many negative issues have arisen in households and families around the world, yet we hear so little of them. Much data is produced for COVID-19, but barely any data for the myriad of domestic trauma cases and suicides that have emerged. This is a time to stay close to Jesus, a time for His counsel, a time to let Him touch your life. It is also a time to let Jesus, through his Word and the Holy Spirit, turn your fears and anxieties into joy and hope, to wipe away your tears and set your thoughts on solid ground, to free your captive spirit to be able to praise him.
The more uncertainly there is in the world, the greater Christ's love is to us. He can reach down into places where the Devil thought he had people locked away, imprisoned in a prison cell of fear and worry.
When I went to prison, I found I was free inside those Pentridge walls and the fences of the prison farm due to my Saviour walking with me. The comfort I received through times of loneliness and uncertainty was not only sufficient to get me through but, at times, breathtaking.
We don't need to be sent to a physical prison to be in one. All we need to do is fear when God says He has freed us from it. It’s hard to understand the prison of fear and anxiety, but it is very real. We feel free until the fear sets in. When it does, it's like prison guards mustering us again for lock-up.
In prison, we all mustered several times a day to ensure nobody had escaped. The spirits of fear and anxiety are like those guards; every time we fear or become anxious, it is like we are being mustered to ensure we are still captive. We eventually become institutionalised to it, expecting to live within the confines of fear and anxiety.
Christ says we don't need to attend those musters anymore but are free to leave at will. The price he paid on Calvary was for those troubles as well. He has paid in full for all those problems we read of in our scripture — our lack of knowledge and understanding, our broken-heartedness, our captivity to so many sorrows and sins, our lack of sight and hearing to the pleas of those we have hurt or those who have bruised our own spirit. We have been set at liberty, but do we know what liberty is?
I recall a bloke with whom I was in prison. He had done 28 years. One day a prison officer under orders came up and said, "Your sentence is over in a couple of days, you are free to go."
What happened then? Nothing. He didn't know what to do next. It was unexpected. He could have packed his bag and walked out of the prison confidently at the due time but he had nowhere to go. It all had to be arranged. We may have been locked up for 28 years or more in our minds, but when Jesus frees us, we do have somewhere to go. We go the living God who made us!
Psalm 91:4 says"He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler."
Imagine being free of those weights of the uncertainty of which our scripture speaks. Take a second to put yourself in the mind of my friend from prison as if you were him once the idea of freedom sunk in. The smile that brightened his face couldn’t be erased. The joy he experienced in the coming days as he told people of the new life he would live, and of the new place he would stay, of the holidays he could enjoy, was a sight to behold. It was the talk of freedom. A weight was lifted from my friend that he hadn't realised was on his mind. Often we don't realise the weight of our burdens until we release them to Jesus Christ.
Do you have pressing burdens? Lay them today at the feet of Jesus who came into your life for that reason.
Today's prayer: Dear Lord, I have troubles I need to hand over to you. So much is going on in the world and I can't' see where it's heading. Besides that, I have family and personal predicaments and my mind just needs a rest. Please let me hand these things over to you, and release the pressure.
Photo by Austin Chan