He has sent me . . . to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.
Martin Luther said that the words of Isaiah 61 are a “most proper definition of Christ, as well as his task and his functions.” If you want to know what Christ has come to do, read Isaiah 61. But you didn’t need Martin Luther to tell you that. Jesus himself read these words aloud in the synagogue of Nazareth. And when he finished reading, he looked up and told everyone listening, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21). Jesus points to these words and says, “Isaiah was talking about me!”
In a bad news world, you have a good news, God! To people who know what it’s like to be spiritual prisoners—of the devil, of the world, of their own sinful natures—the Savior comes. And He says, “I have come…to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.”
It’s kind of a neat thing to note that the Hebrew word that’s translated “freedom” is a relative of the Hebrew word for “flying”—specifically, the fluttering of bird’s wings. Think of a majestic bald eagle crammed into a tiny birdcage. That’s us. Human beings, the majestic crown of God’s creation, imprisoned by our own doing, and Satan holding the key. God looked at that picture and said, “That’s not right.” And so, Jesus came to let the bird out of the cage, so to speak—to give freedom from sin, death, and Satan’s power to all who believe.
To do that, of course, Jesus himself was bound, subjecting himself to temple guards and their chief priests, to Roman soldiers and their governor. He was treated as a guilty one even by the Father himself so that by his blood, we—the truly guilty ones—may go free.
What a privilege it is to be able to have that freedom through Christ proclaimed to us! What a privilege it is to be able to proclaim that freedom through Christ to others!
Lord Jesus, you not only proclaim freedom for the captives, but you did all that was necessary to achieve freedom for the captives. How can I ever thank you enough? Make me joyful and ready as your messenger to proclaim to others the freedom you have won. Amen.