There is so much brokenness in this world. Hurt people hurt people, they say, and it is more true than we can imagine. Wounded children grow up to be broken adults who often have a difficult time maintaining close relationships. Codependency seems to be the rule rather than the exception and families are affected for generations by the problems and sins of their ancestors. There are family cycles that seem nearly impossible to break. Countless men, women and children are left hopeless, not knowing where to turn for help or how to end these generational patterns. Is there a solution to this mess into which humanity is born?
Jesus walked among mankind more than 2 millennia ago. Some believe him to be merely a good man, a wise teacher, or a prophet. Yet, He frequently enraged the people by proclaiming Himself God and Messiah. On one of these occasions, He took a turn reading from the ancient scrolls in the synagogue and proclaimed His mission. It is recorded by Luke in the fourth chapter of his gospel.
17 And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”20 Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
In Jesus, we find hope and the answers to all of our problems. Here, Jesus outlines several parts of His mission to humanity, which all find their fulfillment in His crucifixion, resurrection and ascension.
To preach the gospel to the poor.
This is probably the most well known part of Jesus’ mission. What is the good news? Mankind was separated from God because of Adam’s disobedience, but the Son of God, the second member of the Trinity, came to Earth to be born of a woman so that He could dwell among us, be tempted as we are, live without sin, and die in our place as a final sacrifice for our sins so that we might once again be reunited in fellowship with our Creator and spend Eternity with Him in Heaven.
To heal the brokenhearted.
I believe that, at least in part, this speaks to the brokenness of humanity. Some of the other translations of this Greek word, Suntribo, are bruise, break, broken to shivers, brokenhearted, and break in pieces. Jesus came to heal us physically, emotionally, mentally and make us whole in all of the areas that we are broken. The fallen state of our world often breaks us into pieces, but the good news is that Jesus came to restore everything.
To proclaim liberty to the captives.
We are captive to so many things in this world. Those generational cycles that I mentioned before? The bondage that comes from them can be stronger than we are able to cope with on our own. We have all had those things that we struggle with for years, perhaps decades. They hold on to us as if there were physical chains wrapped around our hands and feet and we are literally helpless, without the keys and unable to release their grip on our lives. But, that is why He came! He has the keys to unlock the chains of addiction, personality disorders, family dysfunction and so much more. In fact, He gave up His very own life to get them.
Recovery of sight to the blind.
Apart from God, humanity is, quite simply, blind. We are blind to our Creator, blind to His ways, blind to our own needs and what is wrong in our lives. When we think we have it all together, when we believe that we are really pretty good people and that God is pleased with us, when we sit in judgment of others and say, “God, change them!”, that is exactly when we are most in need of a Savior.
The Bible tells us that there are none righteous and that the righteousness of man is as filthy rags to God. The church at Laodicea thought this way about themselves, but in reality, Jesus told them that they were lukewarm and “wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.”
The religious leaders of Jesus’ time believed they were good people, following God’s laws, living holy lives, but He called them whitewashed tombs and said that they were putting loads on the people that they were not willing to carry themselves. He also said that they were blind.
Blindness comes through so many venues into our lives. The one that I am most familiar with is codependency. Codependency was once only associated with alcoholism, but it is now known to be much more prevalent in society and to be a factor in families where there has been no drug or alcohol addiction. It is a pattern of behavior, of relating to one another and one of the biggest affects that I have seen is self-righteousness and spiritual blindness.
The greatest need that people have is to be loved. Codependency hinders love and those involved are left constantly having to reassure themselves that they are good and deserving of respect, love, kindness and admiration. They are almost incapable of facing problems in their own lives or family, because that would make them feel unworthy and ashamed.
So, blindness becomes a defense mechanism. And, this is another reason why Jesus left His throne. This blindness began with the first people, Adam and Eve and continued through generation after generation. Before He came, there was little hope, but now, we can be free. We can be delivered through Jesus Christ and have the scales removed from our eyes so that we can face all of our sins, weaknesses, failures and more with the assurance and reassurance that we are His beloved children whom He died for and when His Father and ours looks at us, none of that matters, because all the Father sees when He gazes into our eyes is the righteousness of Jesus. It is only through receiving sight through our Savior that we can truly be healed and set free from these things that bind us!
To set at liberty those who are oppressed.
Jesus delivered many from demon possession when He was here and He desires to deliver us today. As Christians, we cannot be possessed by any demon, but their job is to oppress us in every area of our lives. It is just another form of bondage and captivity. Often, people think of God and satan as equal but opposite forces, but this cannot be further from the truth. satan and his demons are created beings that are infinitely below the omnipotence of Almighty God and Jesus has authority over them. He can deliver us from every oppressing spirit in our lives, just as He did when He was here in the flesh. And, when we give our hearts to Him and follow Him, He passes that authority on to us. We can live in freedom if we will just submit to God.
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.
In my eyes, this statement bookends the passage. He stopped short of reading the verse that described “the day of Vengeance of our God.” Why? Because He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should have eternal life. It is not His desire to pour wrath out on mankind, but that day will come. In the meantime, He has tarried more than 2,000 years, interceding on our behalf and waiting expectantly for each person who decides to give his or her heart, soul and mind to Him. It is the acceptable year of the Lord, today is the day of salvation. Do not wait another minute.
You might be reading this and thinking, this is great, but how do I receive this healing, this release from captivity and all of the other things that Jesus promised to do for me? Quit striving. Stop trying to do it yourself. You will never be able to. Jesus laid it all out for us in John 15. I am the vine … you are the branches … remain in me … apart from me you can do nothing … a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine … if you remain in Me and My words in you ask anything … and it will be granted! … remain in My love … your joy will overflow! … you didn’t choose Me, I chose you … love each other.
That is the secret. We must abide in Jesus. We cannot stop with, “I’m a Christian, I go to church and I love Jesus.” Frankly, it’s not even enough to be a Christian, go to church, love Jesus and spend most of our time serving Him. The church at Ephesus was commended for their good works, but commanded to return to their first love. Our service to God must flow from our relationship with Him and not the other way around. We must abide in Him, pray continually, spend time reading His word and asking the Holy Spirit to guide us and make it come alive to us. Jesus must be a part of our everyday lives and not just one part of our lives. He is always there with us and for us and we have got to start treating Him as such. He is not there like a vending machine to give us whatever pleases our eyes or as a guard dog that we can sick on our enemies. He is God incarnate and He is the one who died to make us whole. He loves every one of us, no matter how frail or weak or downright wicked we may be. That is the love that He commands us to have for one another. That is why He told us to, “love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven…”
Everything that the enemy inflicted upon Job was reversed and he was released from his captivity when he prayed for his friends and forgave them. While broken relationships may not be immediately restored, the only way to end whatever generational cycles may be in your family line is to give your life over to Jesus and abide in Him, while persistently seeking Him for the healing of your brokenness, freedom from your captivity, the recovery of your spiritual sight, and deliverance from all spiritual oppression.
It is possible and it’s a journey worth taking. Why not begin today?