Scripture Passage: Luke 4:16-30
"All we want to do is take the chains off
All we want to do is break the chains off
All we want to do is be free
All we want to do is be free" - Be Free by J. Cole
I'm an avid fan of conscious rap and J. Cole is definitely one of my favorite rappers of that genre. Ever since I've been introduced to him by Nick and seeing him live, I've felt connected to his music. When I listened to this song, I felt his brokenness and cry for justice. I don't want to get into nitty gritty politics or even talk about social justice in specifics. I want us to look at how the passage for today can give us divine hope even when the government we obey fails us, or the family members we live with let us down, or when our friends forget us.
In the passage, Jesus enters into the temple and he is at the very beginning of His ministry. He picks up the scroll of Isaiah and reads through it. You can find the same passage He is reading in Isaiah 61:1-2.
Then He puts the scroll down and tells them that the Scripture He just read has been fulfilled. All the words their ancestors had memorized and had taught came into reality with His existence.
That means that when it says:
"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 favor.”
It is talking about Him! Because He lives, there can be freedom.
It's so easy to read these words and let our eyes glaze over. "I've heard this before." "I've been to church." and then have our typical cynical responses, "But God HASNT come through for me. Look at the world. Look at the world breaking and screaming for help. This place still sucks." And then we give up our hope in the words of Christ because we don't SEE that in reality. But maybe, just maybe, we've been looking at it the wrong way. When Jesus tells us that He fulfills this Scripture, He is calling us to listen to His voice.
Often times we rush into conclusions and worst, we develop our own expectations. What does it mean to proclaim liberty to the captives and to recover the sight of the blind? In one sense, we can read it as physical aspects, Christ came to heal us from physical ailments and to destroy slavery! But if we dig deeper, we know that this is just an elementary perspective. What He ultimately came to do is to SET FREE people who were slaves to SIN and to reveal HIS presence to spiritually blind people.
Knowing this truth empowers us to make changes in our society, because of HIM, for HIM, through Him.
When will systemic racism cease?
When will selfishness, deceit, rape, lust, ignorance, murder, cancer, obesity, narcissism cease? It will happen WHEN people's broken rebellious souls are healed by their acceptance of the Heavenly King and Redeemer.
If you know HIM, know that you are an agent of change. Whether it is fighting systemic oppression, or cultivating freedom, kindness, joy in your community, do it because of His presence and victory! There is power in the name of Jesus to break every single chain that holds us down!
Dave is a co-founder of the Lift Project. He is currently in the process of finishing his Master of Divinity degree at Cairn University. He loves powerlifting, watching UFC and speaking about practical theology.