“The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free” (Luke 4:18).
This verse from Luke 4:18 is Jesus reading from the book of Isaiah. He follows this prophetic statement with this incredible claim, “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!” (Luke 4:21). Jesus made many incredible claims during his walk on this earth, but this one sets the stage for his ministry. It also positions him as the Messiah. The passage he read in Isaiah was long known to be a prophecy of the coming Messiah. So when Jesus said that this scripture was fulfilled today, he was actually claiming to be the Messiah, the one who would bring deliverance.
Right away, Jesus establishes his desire to deliver the captives, to heal the blind, and to release the oppressed. However, the people who heard these prophecies had a misunderstanding about what this deliverance might look like. The people who were looking for the Messiah were looking for a man who would swoop in and destroy the enemies of Israel; sit on the throne of David; establish religious order to the nation; free Israel from the oppression of the Roman government; and finally set up the promised kingdom of Israel that would last forever in the land of Jerusalem.
When Jesus did not set the Israelites free from Roman rule, he was viewed as a failed Messiah. Even at the very end of Jesus’ ministry, right before he ascended into heaven, His disciples were still asking him to “set Israel free and restore [their] kingdom” (Acts 1:6). They still thought he was going to set up a physical kingdom.
The reason is because they were looking for a physical release from a spiritual oppression. They were looking for a tangible kingdom that would bring them into a physical blessing. Unfortunately, I think we often misunderstand the deliverance Jesus offers us today in a similar manner.
I do understand how easy it is to confuse the blessings God offers, and to imagine the necessity for them to be physical blessings—physical deliverance. We live in a physical world and understand the things we can taste, touch, hear, see, or smell. Anything that exists outside of those limitations is hard for us to understand.
Jesus says he will bring deliverance, but we often desire Him to deliver us from things that he never promised to deliver us from. For instance, we want him to deliver us from troubles. Do you know that Jesus actually promises the exact opposite of that? John 16:33b says, “In this world you will have trouble.” You will have trouble! Jesus does not say he will deliver you from trouble. He reminds you that you will face it! He does finish the verse by telling us to take heart. He reminds us that He overcame the world. The deliverance was not from trouble, but from the need to feel like the trouble in this life was too much for you to overcome.
We also want Jesus to deliver us from temptation. Again, this is a misconception. James 1 talks about rejoicing when we face temptation because we know that when we are tested, we can develop endurance. We need to experience temptation so that we can choose what is right.
So, what are we delivered from? Colossians 1:13 tells us that we are delivered from the power of darkness. Psalm 91:3 says that we are delivered from the snare of the trapper. Galatians 1:4 says that we will be delivered from the evils of this present age. Romans 6:23 suggest that we are delivered from death.
All these verses help us to understand the power of deliverance that Jesus does promise. We will sin, but we can be delivered from the punishment of sin when we repent. This is the message of deliverance. Yes, eventually we will be delivered from this life and into a new life where there is no pain, no tears, and no trials (Revelation 21:24). But until then, we have the hope that the trials we now face will give us the endurance we need to finally realize the deliverance Jesus offers—the haven of rest for the weary.
Jesus does have the power to relieve our pain in a physical way, and he certainly does offer physical deliverance. But we should not confuse the physical blessings with the ultimate deliverance that he promises, where all the tears will be wiped from our eyes (Revelation 7:17). Jesus does want us to have life to the fullest (John 10:10), but ultimately, he wants us to have eternal life (1 John 5:11).
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