Thursday, March 7th
Liberate: to set at liberty; free
When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
Our word for today is liberate. I usually read this passage with the perspective that Jesus came to liberate others- bringing good news to the poor, releasing the captives, restoring sight to the blind, and freeing the oppressed. After his announcement in the synagogue, he spent his life doing just that. This passage also reminds me that we are to do the same. As followers of Jesus, we are called to liberate the captive and oppressed from their bonds, liberate the blind from their inability to see, and liberate the poor from their poverty of physical necessities and spiritual hope.
But today I am thinking of how Jesus came to liberate ME. It is humbling to think of myself as one of the oppressed whom Jesus came to free. I feel so blessed that I don’t generally consider how I too, desperately need the liberating love of Jesus as much as those who are downtrodden. And yet, when I ask myself these questions, my need becomes quite obvious.
The Spirit of God was upon Jesus to “bring good news to the poor.” In my daily living, where do I experience poverty of spirit, health or goods? In what areas do I need to hear the good news again?
~Liberate me, Jesus. Liberate me from my discouragement in challenging times, my lack of faith when faced with uncertainty, my full schedule with no time for you, my impatience when I need to allow your timing, my fear of cancer returning, my weariness with the world…
Jesus came to “proclaim release to the captives.” What holds me captive? What is holding me back from fully experiencing kingdom living?
~Liberate me, Jesus. Liberate me from my practicality that overrides any sense of wonder, my personal agenda that doesn’t include your desires for me, my timidity about making radical changes, my contentment with the status quo, my feelings of inadequacy, my tendency to seek security in worldly goods…
Jesus brought “recovery of sight to the blind.” In what ways am I blind? What do I need to see or understand more clearly?
~Liberate me, Jesus. Liberate me from my assumptions about others’ actions, my closed mind in the face of new ideas, my limited understanding based on my own culture and life experiences, my self-centered focus, my ordinary perspectives, my inattentiveness to your movements and miracles…
Jesus was the anointed one who would “let the oppressed go free.” One definition of oppressed means to be burdened by abuse of power, but the word can also mean “to burden spiritually or mentally.” In what ways am I oppressed or burdened spiritually? Mentally?
~Liberate me, Jesus. Liberate me from my worry about daily concerns, my anxiety about pressures and deadlines, my guilt about past mistakes and regrets, my conflict with certain aspects of the church, my fear of loss, my inability to totally comprehend your love for me…
Finally, Jesus was the One to “proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” What prevents me from seeing and sharing the good news of Jesus?
Liberate me, Jesus. Liberate me from my reluctance to share my faith with others, my negligence about the world’s great need for the hope found in you, my not “finding” time to help someone, my taking your good news for granted, my concern that my witness might cause a negative reaction…
I am in need of liberation.
Liberate me, Jesus- but free me only so that I might work with you to liberate others, until we all are free to share your good news and celebrate your good favor- together- forever.
*All definitions will be excerpted from the Merriam-Webster online dictionary at https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/
Photo credit: Aaron Burden on Unsplash