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02-26-06-Year of Jubilee-Proclaiming Freedom for the Captives

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We have been looking at the passage of scripture found in Luke 4:18-19, where Jesus was in the synagogue at Nazareth.  The scroll of Isaiah was handed to Him and He found the place in Isaiah 61:1-2 and read it.  Then He sat down and declared that He was the Messiah (The Anointed One) who had come to declare the Year of Jubilee.  We have learned that the Year of Jubilee, which occurred every 50 years, brought liberty, restoration, release, rest, thanksgiving, and faith to God’s people.  Jesus said that His mission was to:

1.  Preach the Good News to the Poor—Poverty (Physical & Spiritual)

2. Heal the Brokenhearted—Sorrow/Grief (Emotional)

3.  Proclaim Freedom for the Captives—Bondage (Spiritual)

4. Recovery of Sight to the Blind—Blindness (Physical & Spiritual)

5.  Release the Oppressed—Oppressed (Physical & Spiritual)

Luke 4: 18-19 (NIV) “The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Isaiah 61:1-2 (NIV) The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, 2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor

At first, it appears that the phrases proclaim freedom for the prisoners and release the oppressed (NIV) are the same.  Or in Isaiah proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners (NIV) are the same.  However, as we look at the words that are used we will discover that they are different and have different meanings.  So we are going to leave the later phrase for another week.  In our 4th week of study on this passage, we want to focus on the phrase, proclaim freedom for the captives (prisoners).  

We have been looking at these passages as a Jew hearing Jesus read them would have heard them, rather than with our American understanding.  (By the way, if you want to witness to a Jew, you must use the Old Testament since they do not read the New Testament.  Thankfully, God has placed everything that is needed to show who the Messiah (Jesus) was in the Old Testament.) 

7617 שָׁבָה [shabah /shaw·baw/] v. A primitive root; TWOT 2311; GK 8647; 47 occurrences; AV translates as “(carry”, “take away”, “… ) captive” 37 times, “(take”, “drive”, “… ) away” eight times, and “take” twice. 1 to take captive. 1a (Qal). 1a1 to take captive. 1a2 captive (participle). 1a3 to lead captive. 1b (Niphal) to be taken captive.

What is a captive?  A captive is one who is carried or lead away against their will.  If you were a Jew and you heard the word “captive” what would you think about?  Well, the first thing would probably be the time when they were captive in Egypt for over 400 years.  They also would think of when they were captive in Babylon for 70 years.  These may not have been happy thoughts, but this is how they would have thought.  These truths were ingrained in them by the scriptures and their teachings of the Law.  A Jew knew very well what it meant to be a captive and the pain that was associated with it. For example:

Psalms 137:1-2 (NIV) By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion.  2 There on the poplars we hung our harps, 3 for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”  4 How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?

Now Jesus came declaring that He is the Messiah who has come to set them free from their captivity.  What captivity was that, since at that time they were not in captivity in a foreign land?  He came to set them free from the captivity of sin.  A captivity that all men are under because we are born into sin.  A captivity that only He, the Messiah, could deliver them from. 

You see we have all been taken captive by sin.  Sin has lead us away to a place of bondage and slavery to it.  David acknowledged his sin and the sins of men many times in the Psalms:

Psalms 14:3 (NIV) All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.

Psalms 143:2 (NIV) . . .  for no one living is righteous before you.

Psalms 51:1-5 (NIV) Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.  3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. 4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. 5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

King Solomon when he dedicated the temple he had built prayed to God about having mercy on His people when they sinned:

1 Kings 8:46 (NIV) “When they sin against you—for there is no one who does not sin—and you become angry with them and give them over to the enemy, who takes them captive to his own land, far away or near;

Prov 20:9 (NIV) Who can say, “I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin”?

A Jew knew very well that he was captive to sin.  He was commanded to bring sacrifices for his sins.  He had constant reminders in the fact that he could not enter the Holy Place of the temple without being a priest.  In fact, the whole priesthood system was a constant reminder of how sinful they were.  Only the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies on one time of the year on the Day of Atonement, and that only after he had taken special measures of cleansing and sacrifice for his sins.  They knew that their sin separated them from a Holy God.  They could never come into His presence without a fear of being stuck dead because of their sin.  All they could do was to be obedient to God’s commandments and offer sacrifices through the priests according to the Law that God had given them.  This would grant them God’s blessings upon their life, but they could never personally know Him.

Jesus came to provide the answer to our sin problem and set us free from the captivity it has held us in.  You see besides focusing on the fact that they had been in captivity in Egypt and Babylon, a Jew would also have remembered how God delivered them from that captivity and brought them to the promised land of Israel.  So if Jesus was talking about captivity, He was also taking about deliverance because God has always been faithful to deliver His people.  In fact the phrase we are looking at starts with the words proclaiming freedom (liberty) to the captives.  Isaiah saw a day when they would be set free:

Isaiah 35:10 (NIV) and the ransomed of the Lord will return.  They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

Who are the ransomed ones?  Those whom God bought back from their captivity.  They will enter Zion (a type of the church) with singing, gladness,  and joy.  There is a promise here that we do not have to stay captive to our sin—we can be set free.  Praise the Lord!

The Greek word for freedom that is used by Jesus in Luke 4:18 means “remission, forgiveness, deliverance, pardon or letting sins go as if they had never been committed.”

859 φεσις [aphesis /af·es·is/] n f. From 863; TDNT 1:509; TDNTA 88; GK 912; 17 occurrences; AV translates as “remission” nine times, “forgiveness” six times, “deliverance” once, and “liberty” once. 1 release from bondage or imprisonment. 2 forgiveness or pardon, of sins (letting them go as if they had never been committed), remission of the penalty.

Is this possible?  Can we truly be forgiven for the sins we have committed?  Can we be pardoned as if we had never committed the sin in the first place?  YES!!!!!!  This is the glorious truth of the Gospel that we must understand and believe.  We can be set free from the captivity of sin though the blood of Jesus Christ.  This is why He came—to set us free from sin.

2 Cor 5:21 God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.

The legal (theological) term for this is Justification.  We are justified, or made righteous, which means that we have been pardoned of our sin.  We often say justified means “just-as-if-I’d never sinned.”  I call this “the great exchange.”  Jesus, the sinless one, became my sin—every awful dirty thought I have ever had, every curse word I have ever uttered, every murderous, adulterous, hateful, promiscuous, idolatrous, cheating, stealing, lying, sin that we have committed or would ever commit was put on Him.  He took my punishment for my sins and became a captive of sin, so that I could be set free from my captivity to sin!

But for us to bring this back around to what a Jew would have understood, when Jesus said that He came to proclaim freedom to the captives, we must see that by Jesus taking our captivity away from us, He also gave us so much more.  What was it that a Jew could not do because of their sin?  Come into the very presence of God Himself.  So for us to truly be set free from our captivity of sin, we must be granted the privilege of coming into God’s presence! 

My friend, that is exactly what God did through Jesus Christ (The Anointed One—Messiah).  When He made this great exchange of forgiving us for our sin, He gave us His righteousness.  That means that we can come into the very throne room of God because we are righteous.  We have been given free access to the Holy God of Israel—Jehovah, I Am the I Am, The Almighty One, Creator of the heavens and the earth. 

Heb 4:16 (NIV) Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence (boldness), so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Rom 5:1-2 (NIV) Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.

Eph 2:17-18 (NIV) He came and preached peace to you who were far away (captives) and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

Eph 3: 12 (NIV) In Him and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.

This is something a Jew would have only dreamed of, but never thought it could happen.  Jesus said, I am the Messiah and I have come to proclaim freedom for the captives.  “Go be free and worship your God by boldly coming into His presence.” 

This is what it means to be living in a Year of Jubilee.  We are set free from the bondage and captivity of sin that has held us back from being able to approach our Holy God.  We can now boldly approach our Holy God anytime we need to.  He is waiting to hear our prayers and desires to answer them.  We can walk in liberty, restoration, release, rest, thanksgiving, and faith as God’s people.  As we learn to walk in this freedom, we can and should share it with others.  We can proclaim the same truth that Jesus did to those around us who are in the captivity of sin.  That is that you can boldly come to God because Jesus has paid the price for your sin and given you His righteousness!  Praise God!!!


Luke 4:18 Isaiah 61:1
NIV proclaim freedom for the prisoners proclaim freedom for the captives
NASB, RSV, NRSV proclaim release to the captives proclaim liberty to captives
KJV preach deliverance to the captives proclaim liberty to the captives
NKJV, ESV, Good News proclaim liberty to the captives proclaim liberty to the captives/ announce release to captives (Good News)
NLT proclaim that captives will be released announce that captives will be released
NCV tell the captives they are free tell the captives they are free
AMP announce release to the captives proclaim liberty to the [physical and spiritual] captives
Message announce pardon to prisoners Announce freedom to all captives
Jewish NT/Tanakh OT proclaim freedom for the imprisoned proclaim release to the captives
God’s Word announce forgiveness to the prisoners of sin announce that captives will be set free
ISV NT announce release to the prisoners  
Weymouth NT announce release to the prisoners of war  
HCSB proclaim freedom to the captives proclaim liberty to the captives
Living Bible announce that captives shall be released announce liberty to captives
Bible in Basic English to say that the prisoners will be let go to say that the prisoners will be made free


v v: verb

TWOT Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament

GK Goodrick-Kohlenberger

AV Authorized Version

n n: noun or neuter

f f: feminine

TDNT Theological Dictionary of the New Testament

TDNTA Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Abridged in One Volume

GK Goodrick-Kohlenberger

AV Authorized Version

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