“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour” (Luke 4:18-19) (ESV).
The last part of this Scripture clearly shows that the other mission of Jesus was “to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” Apparently, it is the oppressed, who, after having been set at liberty, are expected to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.
The responsibility of the proclamation of the year of the Lord’s favour is given to those set at liberty, having been previously oppressed. Such responsibility cannot be given to those who are oppressors, but, specifically, to the formally oppressed. See [Jesus is the unifier of Christians and humanity].
The primary mission of Jesus is to proclaim liberty to the captives, also helping the blind to recover their sight. However, the most important datum to take not of is that the captives being referred to—are not, necessarily, the physical captives—but the spiritual captives.
Also the blind, who would be helped to recover their sight are not necessarily the physically blind, but the spiritually blind. The only problem with spiritual blindness is that the more a person thinks he/she sees, the more blind the person becomes.
“Jesus said ‘For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.’ Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, ‘Are we also blind?’ Jesus said to them, ‘If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.” (John 39-41) (ESV).
The Pharisees sat in the comfort of assuming that they had deep understanding of God’s word. They assumed that they were more informed than the rest of the people who had not had the privilege of studying Scriptures. They remained blind, even though the light of the world was in their midst.
“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’” (John 8:12) (ESV).
The declaration by Jesus could not be understood by those, both spiritually blind and spiritually deaf. Jesus’ declaration about blindness, led to an extended murmuring among those Pharisees. Apparently, in Jesus they saw a braggart, instead of someone fulfilling Scriptures they assumed to fully comprehend.
Their spiritual blindness was in their concluding the opposite of who, exactly, Jesus was. Jesus was not a braggart. He was, actually, the humblest person the world had ever known.
The Pharisees, themselves, were the real braggarts. The Pharisees pretended to be the humblest people, even drawing accolades from those impressed by their publicly exhibited humility. See [Discordant reality projected in the gospel].
In this world wisdom is mistaken for foolishness, while foolishness is mistaken for wisdom. Weakness is mistaken for strength, while strength is mistaken for weakness. Ignorance is mistaken for knowledge, while knowledge is mistaken for ignorance. Charm is mistaken for malice, while malice is mistaken for charm.
Most Christians desire to protect their own skin—without realizing the danger of exposing themselves to terribly more excruciating consequences. Ordinary people may not, but God clearly perceives such people’s hypocrisy. God is aware of the appropriate judgement awaiting those involved with such behaviours.
Just as it was the case during Jesus’ time, the same applies today. Most people take comfort in being associated with Christianity. Yet unable to go with the demands of Christianity. See [Christianity serves to invalidate God’s Kingdom].
The hypocrites regard Christianity as popular—only for what they can get out of Christianity. Yet Christianity should, basically, be regarded as the most unpopular undertaking, the world has ever known. Jesus never fooled anyone into believing that Christianity was something to be accepted casually:
“Large crowds were travelling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: ‘If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:25-27) (ESV).
Some Christians, even today, actually, practice the opposite of what Jesus declared in Scriptures, such as the one above. Most people go into Christianity because they want to secure good marriages. In fact, the majority of Christians that I know, reap tangible benefits of being Christians. They are also proud of rearing children who are God-fearing, as compared with non-Christians.
While rearing Children in the path of Christianity is commendable, it is the attitude of pride that often negatively affect such people. Pride keeps most Christians in darkness. I suppose the children of the Pharisees were also brought up in God-fearing environments. Yet it is in Pharisees that we find people unable to tolerate their Saviour?
Could all this, therefore, imply that Jesus meant literally hating own parents, siblings and children, in order to become one of His disciples? The answer is both in the affirmative and negative. Jesus meant considering God’s will, ahead of relatives. This is just as in Abraham’s example, God had literally meant that Abraham should display his committed obedience to God—by willingness to sacrifice his own Son (Genesis 22:1-18).
Loving one’s parents and children can be commendable and advisable. But that brings effects with temporary solutions, instead of addressing what brings permanent solutions. Had Jesus considered the principle of loving His parents and siblings, ahead of God, He would not have died on the cross. Virtually, His parents and brothers could not have desired to see Jesus choosing the way of the cross.
The choice of Jesus did not consider the wishes of His parents and siblings, ahead of God’s will. But the interests of His parents and siblings are included in the package of Jesus having chosen the way of the cross. Jesus Christ was mostly interested in permanent solutions, ahead of temporary solutions.
Obsessed in Law-keeping, the Pharisees were generally imprisoned in temporary solutions. Their activities resembled fixing temporary patches to stop flooding on a dam-wall, with potential of over-spilling. Permanent solutions, are what would be necessary—than piecemeal solutions, under such circumstances.
Jesus came to extricate humanity from the imprisonment of temporary solutions. Having genuinely accepted Jesus’ principles—a true Christian becomes a victor who no longer worries about anything, including death. Such a person becomes a real problem-solver, just like Jesus was.
Jesus’ mission is to liberate every soul into becoming a victor over sin. Doing well in business and in family relationships can be highly commendable. Basically, such momentary successes can be what results from good law-keeping—though attending to temporary solutions. Such successes have little to do with succeeding in Christian endeavours.
Instead, trials and temptations, overwhelming an individual, have more to do with ideal Christianity. Experiencing good time—due to successes in businesses and ability to raise up religiously God-fearing children—may not, necessarily, be what entails attaining the liberty inferred by Jesus.
David was closest to God, during his time as a fugitive, when hunted by King Saul. Having obtained war victories—defeating Amon and Syria—and everything appearing as slender—the sin of Bathsheba overtook David (2 Samuel 11). This may be the case with any Christian—whose vulnerability may only be when things go well.
Our liberation from sinful conditions may require trials that include bad marriage, disobedient children, business failures and many other physical problems. Depending on what God considers as necessary to keep the convert in line with God’s will. See [How does Jesus protect His own?].
However, the spiritually blind may pass judgment—suggesting that going through trial, after trial—is symptomatic of being punished by God for past sins. Those whose lives appear as trouble-free, are often regarded as blessed—due to keeping God’s commandments. But all that confirms the spiritual blindness of those concerned with passing judgements:
“As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him’” (John 9:1-3) (ESV).
Consider, also, that there were so many unpleasant treatments against Jesus. But those unpleasant treatments fulfilled what was prophesied in Scriptures. For instance, Judas Iscariot did not know that his betrayal of Jesus, was actually fulfilling what had been prophesied in Scriptures.
Nothing was done to Jesus, without fulfilling some prophesy—towards the accomplishment of His mission. This includes what—to some people may appear as unimportant, for recording in Scriptures—things like dividing Jesus’ clothing:
“When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, so they said to one another, ‘Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.’ This was to fulfill the Scripture which says, ‘They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots” (John 19:23-24) (ESV).
Having attained the liberty that Jesus was talking about, there would be no more random occurrence befalling an individual, under God’s purview. Nothing takes place to the one having been liberated through Christ—unless God allows it to happen that way.
This is why Jesus could not be killed before His time had come: “So they were seeking to arrest him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come” (John 7:30) (ESV).
After having been liberated by Christ, the spiritually blind may adjudge any individual, facing whatever trial—as paying for past sins. But facing trials of any magnitude might be fulfilment of whatever prophesy—as delineated by God. This is why Jesus stated:
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12) (ESV).
To be liberated implies being in communication with God, just as Jesus was as free as related to God. The freedom of Christ depended on Him being united with His Father. As His Father thought, so Jesus thought. In the same way, a Person becomes free when connected with his/her Creator.
Previously, when subjected under trials, a person would have been regarded as associated with sinfulness. But such trials are a blessing to a person having been liberated by Christ. Even physical death ceases to be a misfortune, to a person under God’s protection. This is why Paul declared:
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers” (Romans 8:28-29) (ESV).
A person who has received liberty in Christ, ceases to be afraid of death. That person cannot be intimidated by anything anymore. Just as Jesus could not be intimidated by anything. Jesus could confront any situation and remain victorious.
Freedom itself, implies the ability to experience anything. But being able to cause only those things that others are able to experience. The high ranking officials in Jerusalem found the man Jesus too tough to religiously confront. They were afraid of Jesus—but Jesus was not afraid of them.
The liberty that Jesus promised was basically the opposite of what most people, naturally, assume liberty to be. Most Christians confuse Scriptures like the one declared by Jesus: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10) (ESV).
This Scripture is not, necessarily, referring to abundance in material things, as in currently admired physical benefits. It is, actually, not possible to enjoy abundant life in this world, even with huge amount of properties. Of course there are people appearing as enjoying life in physical benefits. But, consider the fact that the same people still fall ill and die.
Those people also face trials—like anyone else—even though supposing that material possessions make them better than others. Their only problem is in being duped into an illusion of good-feeling, when comparing themselves with others. See [The enemies of change are the proud people]
They suppose that accumulation of physical properties and money, would only be what carry significance in actual meaning of abundance. Yet, it is not possible to have life in abundance in this physical world. Even rulers cannot enjoy life in abundance.
Only to the spiritually blind are such illusions found. However, the liberated ones are free indeed, even in this life. They even rejoice in persecutions. They die peacefully, having been assured of eternal life.
“Count it all joy, brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4) (ESV).
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing reliefs to those having witnessed strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long awaited providential oasis of hope.
The Print copy is now available at Amazon.com for $13.99
Also available as an e-copy at Lulu.com for $6.99