Chapter # 4 Paragraph # 2 Study # 6
September 3, 2006
18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
20 And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.
1901 ASV Translation:
18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, Because he anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor: He hath sent me to proclaim release to the captives, And recovering of sight to the blind, To set at liberty them that are bruised,
19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.
20 And he closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down: and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fastened on him.
- I. The Acceptable Year of the Lord.
- A. Structurally, the "acceptable year" is the same as the "good news/Gospel" [see the Message Outline for August 27, 2006<275>].
- B. In the Old Testament, the proclamation of "the year of liberty" (Ezekiel 46:17) and of "liberty throughout the land unto all the inhabitants" (Leviticus 25:10) was the "fiftieth year" and was called "a Jubilee".
- 1. The Law called for a "new beginning" once in every generation. Every individual and family was to recover their "inheritance" losses in Jubilee.
- 2. This effectively "offered" every participant the opportunity to "start over" once in his lifetime as the losses of bad choices were erased.
- C. Jesus' use of Isaiah effectively "raised" the significance of "Jubilee" out of its "earthly" and "economic" setting into the realm of non-material, non-economic "Life". For the Son of God, "bondage" was not physical and "prisons" were not buildings: the real issues of "Life" are within, not without. In a sense, He was "spiritualizing" the text if, by that, we mean that there is a "significance" beyond the "physical realm meaning" that does not discount the physical realities, but does press them into the significance they have to the person beyond the physical. Being baptized in water, for instance, is nothing more than a slip-shod "bath" at the physical level (the body doesn't even get clean); it is only when water baptism takes on a "spiritual" (as opposed to "material") significance within the inner person (affecting heart, mind, soul, and spirit) that it becomes what it is designed to be. It cannot be that without the physical reality, but it cannot only be the physical reality.
- II. The Nature of the "Liberty".
- A. It has three aspects that are highlighted by Luke.
- 1. The first is the "proclamation" of "liberty" to the "captives".
- 2. The second is the "recovery of sight" for the "blind".
- 3. The third is the same as the first: the "sending away of the bruised" in "liberty".
- B. The central idea is the second of these three: the blind shall see.
- 1. As the central thesis, it stands as the mechanism of the first and third (which turn out to be the same in larger terms and similar in the details).
- a. Liberty for the captives and liberty for the bruised is the same "large picture" though "being a captive" and "being bruised" are distinct "small pictures" that are related through the idea that no one will be "bruised" who is not first "captured". In other words, the first issue is the loss of "liberty" and the second issue is being badly treated by the one who has taken that liberty away. The first has to do with being "incapacitated" and the second has to do with the "character" of the one who has accomplished the incapacitation (one who takes advantage of those whom he has enslaved).
- 1) The word in the first idea, translated "captives", literally means "captives of the spear". The method of "capture" is significant enough that Theological Dictionary of the New Testament says the proper understanding of the word is "prisoner of war". Interestingly, only those are "captured" by the "spear" who were sufficiently fearful of death that they surrendered once it was obvious that they would be killed if they continued to resist. This signals this truth: the "fear of death" is sufficiently potent to drive people to accept a rather horrible existence. As prisoners, they could look forward to abject slavery which included at least the possibility of a high level of physical pain and abuse. They accepted this by surrendering. Why? Hebrews 2:15 gives a rather stark answer.
- 2) The word in the second idea, translated "them that are bruised", only highlights the reality of life in captivity. Captives were often severely beaten and the level of pain was very high. One could hardly claim to be "alive" in such a circumstance unless the only definition of "life" was that of "functional existence". If "quality of existence" came into the picture, one would have to admit to the experience of on-going "death".
- b. Both of the issues of incapacitation and mistreatment are "resolved" once the incapacitated "sees" a way to regain "capacity". No one has to stay in prison once he has found a hidden route of escape. No one has to submit to a beating who has escaped the dominion of the tyrant of the prison. Thus, "blindness" reversed is the mechanism of "liberty".
- 2. As the central thesis, it reveals the methodology of restoration of sight to the blind: proclamation coupled to the significant power of God. A blind man can receive his sight if the command, "See", is coupled to the power of God Who restores the sight. Obviously, God could restore sight without any proclamation, but such actions without explanation are of little use or value in terms of actually giving help. The miraculous without explanation leaves the person involved to draw his/her own conclusions and they will typically be wrong. Human beings left up to their own mental exercises are typically doomed to interpret everything according to their innate depravity and self-orientation. The words of God are crucial to the proper understanding of the power of God.