Yesterday we remembered the lives given up by so many so we can enjoy freedom from war.
Today freedom may not ring as true as it did in January of this year. For some of our freedom has been curtailed while we deal with the pandemic. This though is a temporary set back not a permanent one. Many though do not enjoy the freedom the way we do in Great Britain today so whatever circumstances we find ourselves in we should still be grateful for the freedom we do enjoy.
There is another freedom available and it can be found in the manifesto that Jesus proclaimed in Luke 4 verses 14-21. Jesus quoted scripture, using the prophetic words of Isaiah, to announce his freedom manifesto. Jesus came to set us free from sin, guilt, sickness, poverty and all the things that imprison us and blind us to the truth.
James Catford, who leads the Bible Society work in England and Wales, tells the story of a prisoner who received a Bible through the Bible Society: The prisoner wrote to tell him the difference the Bible had made to his life. James says: One line has stuck with me ever since. The prisoner wrote these words: “The Bible shows me that every saint has a past and every sinner has a future”.
Whatever our story and whatever our past, God wants us to experience ever greater freedom. His message the truth (Jesus words) sets us free. Wherever Jesus was it was his custom to attend the Synagogue on the Sabbath. There would have been nothing unusual in reading Scripture aloud. Reading the Scripture played a central part in synagogue worship and any man could do it. After the reading, they’d sit down and discuss it together. The Jewish people were longing for political liberation from the Romans but Jesus came to bring spiritual freedom for all.
The words Jesus read from Isaiah 61 would have been familiar to his listeners as speaking about what the coming Messiah would do. You see the people were longing for the Messiah. Ever since the Jews had got rid of Alexander the Great, they had lived, for the past 300 years, in the hope and expectation of a Messiah, but the Romans had come. One oppressive regime was exchanged for another. Jews longed for the Messiah to bring them freedom and the year of the Lord’s favour. They kept looking for a Saviour from the Roman occupation.
In Luke 4 Jesus announced to them that he was the Messiah, the Saviour but what kind of Saviour was Jesus saying he was? The context in which Jesus read this passage could fulfil certain political expectations from his audience – the Jews were looking for liberation and freedom from the Romans – and this passage could be interpreted as fulfilling their expectations.
Here in Luke 4, Jesus is telling us what he’s come to do – it’s his manifesto. Good news to those living in poverty – release for those in captivity – a sight for those who are blind – freedom for people who are oppressed. Jesus came to bring healing and freedom to those who needed it most, for Jews and Gentiles, for all nations. Christ has set us free! This means we are really free. Jesus calls each one of us to live lives shaped by the principles of Isaiah 61 and Luke 4. We are called to be “Freedom people”. Here are just some of the things Jesus gives us freedom from:
- Freedom from sin, death, condemnation, guilt and shame – Romans 8.1-17
- Freedom from our weaknesses (anger, jealousy, gossip, bitterness) – Galatians 5.1
- Freedom from fear – Romans 8.15
He gives us:
- Freedom on the inside – see Psalm 40:1-3
- Freedom to live life to the full – see John 10:10
- Freedom to know God – see Hebrews 9:15
- Freedom to be God’s children and to call him “Abba” – Daddy. – Romans 8:15
- Freedom to be the friends of God – John 15:15
- Freedom to be filled with His Spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control – Galatians 5:22-23
- Freedom to do the things that Jesus did – John 14:12
This freedom is offered to all and I hope you have accepted it.
Stay safe and Blessed.