(Jesus said) "'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 recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.'" Luke 4:18-19
In The Lutheran Hour sermon this past weekend, I spoke about the way Jesus delivers us from spiritual poverty, captivity, blindness and oppression. And I told the story of an immigrant to the United States who was confined to an institution following a nervous breakdown in 1929. For more than 40 years she lived as a prisoner in that institution, unable to understand a word spoken to her in English, and finding no one who could communicate in her language. No one knew where she came from; the fact is, no one even knew her name.
Thankfully, few of us will ever face such lonely, oppressive captivity but, then again, you can have 25,000 followers on Twitter, and still find yourself all alone when struggling with illness, pain, broken relationships, or financial struggles.
But Jesus speaks of an even greater captivity that has a hold of every one of us: it is a prison house which is more inescapable than Alcatraz prison. It is our sin and guilt that imprisons us, leaves us destitute before God, blinds us to our desperate situation, and oppresses us with guilt and shame. In our broken position we are as powerless as that nameless immigrant to break free on our own. We can certainly try, but all our wits, money and effort can't take away God's fearsome wrath.
That is why Jesus came for you. "The Lord has anointed Me to proclaim Good News to the poor." The perfectly free Son of God became human to make Himself a slave in your place. The Lamb of God took away the sin of the world -- yours and mine -- by taking it upon Himself, and paying its fearful price on the cross in our place. He was bound, blind-folded, beaten, whipped and finally nailed to that tree. He suffered the overpowering wrath of God in your place: that you might live in peace, hope and perfect freedom.
Though we don't often feel the chains of our sins, they remain nevertheless, until Jesus comes and shatters them.
That's what happened to our immigrant woman. In 1972, fully 43 years after that nervous breakdown, she was assigned a new caseworker. He sat down with her and was able to talk to her; he actually understood her language. He learned her name, Mary Peischl, and finally in 1977 she was freed from that institution and given back her life: she was even reunited with her five children.
Jesus Christ came to set you free from sin, from guilt, from grief, from the power of Satan, from the flames of hell itself. By His death and resurrection He has won for you your complete freedom. Each time we experience recovery from an illness, relief from pain, or the easing of a financial strain, we get a glimpse into the true, eternal freedom which Jesus Christ has won for each of us -- and freely offers us in the Gospel. A freedom we will know forever when Jesus returns to take us home.
THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, by Your death and resurrection You have set me free from sin, death, Satan and hell. As You have filled my heart with joy and peace, fill my mouth with praise that I may share Your wondrous salvation with all those who are still held captive by sin, guilt and regret. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz
Speaker of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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