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Setting The Captives Free

Link to setting_the_prisoners_free.mp3


In this passage we will read about Jesus coming into the synagogue in Nazareth the town that he grew up in.   This is just following his temptation in the wilderness where he was offered all the political and religious power of the world by the god of this world, Satan.    This is the record of the occasion where Jesus announced his ministry to those who had known him since childhood. 

Read along with me:

Luk 4:16  And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.

Luk 4:17  And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,

Luk 4:18  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 (pardon) to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty (pardon) them that are bruised,

Luk 4:19  To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

Luk 4:20  And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.

Luk 4:21  And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.

Parole is a conditional release of a prisoner.  Based upon good behavior, the prisoner is released provided they obey a set of rules.  An infraction of the rules results in a return to captivity.  The paroled prisoner is actually still a prisoner.  They are still guilty as charged and continue serving their sentence, just outside the walls of the prison.  They are under the close supervision of a parole officer.  If they break the rules and misbehave they return to incarceration.    Even after the end of the sentence, captivity, parole and eventual complete release, the prisoner is still guilty of the original crime. 

Clemency is an associated term that means to reduce the penalty of the crime without forgiving the crime itself.  The act of clemency is a reprieve granted when a prisoner has demonstrated that they are worthy.

Performance based religion works in a similar way.    If you behave yourself and do the right things they will tell you that you are “saved.”  But then you are required to follow a set of rules and behave in a certain way or you will lose your saved status and fall back into sin. 

Jesus did not come to parole or to grant clemency.  He came to grant a full pardon.  Pardon is an unconditional release of a prisoner.   A pardon takes away not only the punishment but also the guilt of the crime.  It is as though the crime never happened.  No amount of misbehaving can make you guilty of that crime again.

In many organizational “churches” the “pastor” fills the role of parole officer.  The set of rules, both written and unwritten are perpetuated and enforced by peer pressure using guilt, shame and fear.   

Jesus came to set us free from guilt, shame and fear.  Religion, by definition is to “restrain,” or literally to “tie back.”  According to Webster our word “religion” comes from Middle English religioun which came from the Latin religio which means to restrain. 

According to Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia:  “A religion is a set of stories, symbols, beliefs and practices, often with a supernatural quality, that give meaning to the practitioner's experiences of life through reference to an ultimate power or reality. It may be expressed through prayer, ritual, meditation, music and art, among other things. It may focus on specific supernatural, metaphysical, and moral claims about reality (the cosmos, and human nature) which may yield a set of religious laws, ethics, and a particular lifestyle. Religion also encompasses ancestral or cultural traditions, writings, history, and mythology, as well as personal faith and religious experience.”

Religion by definition can not set you free.   At best religion can only offer you a different set of chains and a redecorated prison cell.  Religion cannot even offer a parole.  When Jesus talked about “deliverance to the captives, and, to set at liberty them that are bruised,” he was not talking about a parole, or clemency.   He was talking about a full unconditional pardon. 

In verse 18, both the word “deliverance” and “liberty” are translated from the same Greek word aphesis.  Aphesis (Strong’s #859) means pardon or freedom.   The ministry of Jesus is to pardon us, that is, to set us free without guilt, shame or fear.  John 8:36 tells us that if the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

The message of freedom is not a welcome message among the religious.  If you will look further down the page starting in verse 28 you will see the response Jesus got from his religious friends and neighbors of Nazareth: 
 
Luk 4:28  And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath,

Luk 4:29  And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong.

Luk 4:30  But he passing through the midst of them went his way,

The world is full of religion.  How many religions are there?  We could recite the names of the religions for an hour and not name them all but the father of all religion is the prince of the power of the air, the god of this world, the great deceiver, Satan.  All religions have the same ultimate goal and similar methods.  It always comes down to fear, guilt and shame to control your behavior, thoughts and beliefs.  It is an external control that you have to comply with.   

Jesus did not come to bring another religion, but to set us free from religion.  Colossians 1:27 says that our hope of glory is Christ in us.  Ephesians tells us that God has placed us in Christ at His own right hand.    We are set free, free indeed!   Not paroled, but pardoned. God has made us righteous and holy, the guilt is gone, the fear is gone, and there is no shame:  Just the love of God.  

Our ministry, each and every one of us who have Christ in us, is to allow Christ to live in and through us to carry out His ministry.    Our ministry is His ministry.  His ministry is our ministry.  All who have Christ in them can say with Jesus:

“I am anointed to preach the gospel to the poor; God has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to declare deliverance (pardon) to the captives, and to set at liberty  (pardon) them that are bruised.”

Why can we say that?   Because in 2 Corinthians 5:18 we find out that we have been given the ministry reconciliation.   We have the ministry of reconciliation because we have Christ in us.  The ministry is His ministry.  We are the earthen vessel, He is the treasure in the vessel.   We who are free have the mission and ministry of setting others free. Truly free.  Wherever we go, Christ in us is there seeking to manifest his ministry through us.  

Religion is bondage.   The book of Galatians was written to expose and warn against the bondage of religion.  We are exhorted to “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of  bondage.”

Be free …

Neil



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