"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
– Luke 4:18-19
The above words of Jesus, quoting from the book of Isaiah, had special meaning for the Jews in attendance. At that time, the Jewish people were politically oppressed under the Roman rule, but to an even greater measure, they were spiritually oppressed under the burdensome rule of their scribes. Their once liberating religion had become a tool of manipulation, suppression, and restriction. They had lost sight of their true spiritual purpose in favor of political supremacy. And worse yet, those who lost the favor of their scribes had no where to go for comfort. These Jews were truly in need of the liberty prophesied by Isaiah.
True to the prophecy, Jesus brought liberty to the Jews in the form of spiritual freedom, which is the first step toward achieving political, social, and economic freedom. Jesus explained that the Jews were no longer slaves to the Mosaic Law or to the rule and traditions of men. They were a free people, sons of the living God and heirs to the Kingdom of the Heavens.
“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”
– John 1:12-13
“What I am saying is that as long as an heir is underage, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world. But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.”
– Galatians 4:1-7
“Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
– John 8:34-36
For about 300 years, these sons of God enjoyed the spiritual liberty Jesus established and were spreading his message of liberty throughout the known world. They wrote hundreds of letters to each other encouraging them with their understanding of Jesus’ message. Though they were shamelessly persecuted for their faith, they were undeterred in spreading the good news of their spiritual liberty to the best of their ability. They shared Paul’s sentiment:
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
– Romans 8:18