[SW365] 2/9/2019 message notes by
Pastor Susan J. Wynn ©2019
“Why Are We Still Captives?”
Text: Isaiah 61:1-3, Luke 4:16-30
I opened my Bible to Isaiah 61 last Sunday afternoon, and as I read its wonderful announcement of good news of freedom to humbled captives, this question came to my spirit, “Why are we still captives, Lord?” And He said, “That is a good title for a sermon.” Then He showed me why many believers are still captives.
Verse 1 —
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me! Of whom does Isaiah speak? The LORD anointed him as a prophet. But Isaiah is speaking of a coming one, a Savior to all who will believe into Him, One on and in whom the Spirit remains.
Isaiah also speaks of those who are no longer captives because they have experienced their own personal Pentecost. Only then were we prepared to carry the good news of Isaiah 61! To whom do we carry the good news? Everyone! But it is received by those who are afflicted (contrite and humble), those who have seen that they are captives and have longed for freedom!
He sent Jesus Christ, and has anointed all who are filled with Him, to proclaim that He will bind up those with broken (shattered) hearts. They are brokenhearted because they mourn over the poverty-stricken condition of their hearts. They have seen that they need to have their hearts changed. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted when they are filled with the Holy Spirit, the Comforter (Matthew 5:4)!
Why do I say, “all those who are filled with Him” are the ones who proclaim such things? I tell you the truth, you cannot proclaim that which you have not experienced.
The Lord Jesus Christ and His messengers proclaim liberty to captives! It is the fulfillment of God’s promise from Ezekiel 36:27, when the Lord says, “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes.” It is freedom from slavery to sin, beloved!
Jesus said this to Jews that had believed Him, but had just told Him that they were not slaves to anyone —
John 8:34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. 35 “The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. 36 “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”
We proclaim freedom to prisoners (bound ones)! From the Hebrew, “complete opening, freedom, rapid movement, spontaneous outflow, purity.” To whom? To captives! By Him, and by His words through us, we proclaim that Jesus Christ will set you free from slavery to sin! He will unlock your chains of sin, if you repent.
“Freedom to prisoners” is translated as “sight to the blind,” in Luke 4:18.
So we also proclaim that we are all born spiritually blind, but Jesus Christ makes blind eyes see (John 9:7, 25)! I tell you the truth, when you are set free and filled, you cannot stop speaking of what you have seen and heard (Acts 4:20)!
Praise His name! I was blind but now I see! He opened my blind eyes and unlocked my chains! I am no longer a slave to sin!
Verse 2 —
Jesus Christ and His messengers proclaim the favorable year of the Lord — the year of liberty when all debts owed are forgiven, the Year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25:8! This “year” began with Christ, and continues until the Day of Judgment!
Oh, what favor! The Father sent His Son as a Savior to 1) reconcile to God everyone who will believe into Him, and 2) and after He rose, ascended and was glorified, to sanctify us through and through (1Thessalonians 5:23), setting us free from the power of sin!
We also proclaim the day of our God’s vengeance. There will come a day of judgment for every human who ever lived, and Jesus will be the Righteous Judge (John 5:22).
So, we proclaim to the world that today is the day to repent and believe into Jesus Christ. And we proclaim to believers that they must turn from their sin, repent before the Lord, and ask Him to purify their hearts.
We proclaim comfort to all who mourn over their spiritual condition and have repented. What do we offer them?
Verse 3 —
In Isaiah’s day, mourners threw ashes on their heads, as a sign that they were mourning. But we proclaim that the Lord will give something to those who have repented and have mourned over their ruin, having realized that their ruin was the result of their sin nature. He will give them a garland (beauty, honor) instead of ashes — victory over sin! He will crucify the sin nature in them (Galatians 5:24)!
We announce that the Lord will give His repentant people the oil of gladness. What is this oil? The Holy Spirit, who makes us glad, indeed! And the Lord has anointed us so we are able to lay hands on repentant believers so they are filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:17, 19:6)!
Jesus Christ promises this to His disciples who obey His command to stay and wait (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-5) —
John 15:11 “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”
And He prayed to His Father, on the night before He was crucified —
John 17:13 “But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves.”
Peter was filled with Christ’s divine joy at Pentecost. And we announce that you will be, too, when you experience your own personal Pentecost. It is joy unspeakable (indescribable), and full of glory (1Peter 1:8)!
We announce that the Lord will give His repentant people the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting (darkness)! When they are filled and set free from sin, the darkness in them — the sin nature — is crucified.
It is replaced by a spiritual robe made of the praise of the Lord. He wraps it around them, and because the mantle is from Him, it never wears out! I tell you the truth, your heart will be filled with praise, continually, and it will be evident to everyone around you!
Then, for all repentant believers, we announce that they will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord.
You will appear as a a great tree of holiness in the forest He has planted, one that stands strong because He has made you righteous on the inside. And we will proclaim that the Lord does all of these things so that He is glorified!
Surely, when He has done all of these things, you will proclaim His wonderful work, too. You will give Him all honor and praise for what He has done in you!
But remember that I when read this passage last Sunday afternoon, I asked the Lord, “Why are we still captives?” Jesus answers, in Luke 4.
Verses 14-15 —
Jesus returned to Galilee, in the power of the Spirit. News of His words and His miracles spread throughout the whole district. He went to their synagogues and began teaching. Everyone praised Him for what they heard.
Verses 16-20 —
But then He went to Nazareth, where He was brought up. As was His custom, He went to the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read.
The book (scroll) of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him, and He opened the scroll and found Isaiah 61, and read it. Then He closed the scroll and gave it back to the attendant. He sat down, and everyone’s eyes were fixed on Him.
Verses 21-22 —
He said, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing (your ears).” All were speaking well of Him, at first, because He announced the good news I have just spoken about.
The words which proceeded from His mouth were full of grace — announcing God’s favor to His wayward people, if they will mourn over the condition of their hearts, and repent.
But they said, “Is this not Joseph’s son?” Where did Joseph’s son get this teaching ability? He did not go to rabbi school at our synagogue. We know His father. He is just a man. Therefore, they did not understand that His words came from His Father. (See John 12:49, 14:10.)
Verses 23-24 —
Jesus continued, saying, No doubt you will quote this proverb to Me — Physician, heal thyself. They had heard that He had miraculously healed people and set them free from demonic possession in the district of Galilee, and in Capernaum.. He knew they would ask Him to do the same in his hometown, Nazareth!
But Jesus said, Truly, truly I say to you, no prophet is welcome in his hometown. He knew that they would not believe Him and would turn against Him. He knows the hearts of all humans (John 2:24-25, Hebrews 4:13, Jeremiah 17:10).
Verses 25-27 —
He spoke the truth to them. In the days of Elijah, many women were widowed when the Lord commanded that it not rain on the land for 3-1/2 years, because His people had sinned against Him. A famine resulted.
But where did the Lord command His servant, the prophet Elijah, to go? Not to any of the widows in Israel, but to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a Gentile widow! He said He would provide for Elijah there. The Lord prophesied through Elijah to the Gentile widow, that the flour and oil would not run out. And it didn’t! Why would He would not bless His people Israel? Because they ALL — even the widows — refused to repent for their sin.
And there were many lepers in Israel in the days of the prophet Elisha, who received Elijah’s mantle when Elijah was taken up to heaven in a whirlwind (2Kings 2:11-13). But the Lord did not command Elisha to cleanse the many lepers who were in Israel. Why? They had refused to repent for their sin. Instead, Elisha commanded Naaman, a Gentile, to go and dip in the muddy Jordan seven times. He raged, but then listened to his servants, humbled himself, and obeyed Elijah. He was healed, just as Elisha had instructed (2Kings 5:14)! Then Naaman believed in God!
Verses 28-30 —
At the words of Jesus, everyone in the synagogue was filled with rage! They knew the history of Elijah and Elisha.They knew Israel was not fed and cleansed because they worshiped other gods and forsook the Lord.
How dare He tell us we are sinning! He infers that we will not be healed and cleansed by Him for the same reason Israel was not healed and cleansed by the Lord God in the days of Elijah and Elisha! He says that we do not welcome Him. Doesn’t He hear us say that we want Him to do miracles? Haven’t we said that He speaks graciously? We are offended!
So, they drove Him to the cliff of the mountain on which Nazareth was built. He allowed them to do it. knowing that the hour for Him to die had not yet come (John 8:20). He already knew He would die on a cross. He was sent by the Father for that purpose.
The people of His hometown intended to kill Him by pushing Him off the cliff! Because He spoke the truth, they deemed Him to be worthy of death! We will kill You because we do not recognize You as one coming from God, and we do not like what You say!
But walking through their midst, He went His way. I believe He was supernaturally protected, as were John Wesley and many other proclaimers of liberty, when they were threatened by Christian mobs.
Again, remember that my question to the Lord was, “Why are we still captives?” Many of today’s believers remain captives and slaves to sin for the same reasons as the people of Nazareth who rejected Him —
They do not understand that the words He and we proclaim come from our Father.
When we tell them the terms for freedom — mourning, contrite, humble hearts — they refuse to repent for their sin.
They are offended and filled with rage because we proclaim that they are slaves to sin, and that they have not been set free because they have refused to repent for their sin.
Therefore, many believers and entire denominations are enraged, and seek to kill our proclamation of freedom from sin. They say, “We will drive out the proclaimers from our midst because we do not recognize them as God’s messengers and we do not like what they say!”
Untold numbers of believers do these things, beloved. Jesus promised that we who He sends to proclaim freedom from slavery to sin would be persecuted by His people, even the church —
John 15:20 “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also.”
In John Wesley’s day, he was banned from the pulpits of the Church of England, and many members and leaders of the Church of England attempted to kill Wesley and his preachers by drowning them, beating them to death, or stoning them to death. But no one could kill them, and many times, the stones and fists would not even make contact with these faithful proclaimers!
What will you do, having heard the good news I have proclaimed to you today? Will you receive it, and repent for your sin, and ask the Lord to fill you with His Holy Spirit, so you are no longer a captive?
Or will you be like the people of Nazareth, or the Church of England? Many believers and denominations are like them. They do not see that they are calling Jesus a liar, when they claim our message is false. I tell you the truth, He will not receive such ones.
Lord Jesus, You long to be gracious to believers. But many are like the people of Nazareth. Still, I pray that some would hear and heed. I pray that they would see the poverty-stricken condition of their hearts, humble themselves before You and before Your Word, and ask You to set them free by filling them with Your Holy Spirit. Let it be so, I pray. Amen.