Setting the Oppressed Ones Free
When Jesus said he would set the ‘oppressed ones’ free, he was referring to those who were spiritually oppressed. It was more than the common religious domination that affected the entire nation. The ‘oppressed ones’ were those who were specially singled out and abused. They would include the wrongly divorced women and the widows and orphans who were abandoned by their religious leaders. They would include those weak ones who were expelled from their synagogues instead of encouraged and upbuilt. It would include all those who sought spiritual refreshment during difficult times, but who were mercilessly turned away.
“Your rulers are rebels, partners with thieves; they all love bribes and chase after gifts. They do not defend the cause of the fatherless; the widow’s case does not come before them.”
– Isaiah 1:23
All of these, and more, Jesus released from their sorrowful condition. He put back what had been taken away, he watered what was drying up, and he re-ignited what had been extinguished. He told them:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
– Matthew 11:28-30
And all who came to him, he granted to become children of God. (John 1:12) This healing was a restoration of self-worth, self-respect and dignity. And it added purpose to their lives as the light of the world, the sons of God and heirs to the heavenly kingdom. (Romans 8:16-17) This is what sonship is all about – giving back self-respect, self-worth, and dignity.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”
– Matthew 5:3-8
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
– Matthew 5:14-16
Yes, the simple knowledge that they are sons of God and heirs to the heavenly kingdom infused them with power. No more were they slaves or children who could be ‘tossed about by every wind of teaching by means of the trickery of men, by means of cunning in deceptive schemes.’ (Ephesians 4:14) They knew the truth about themselves, and that truth set them free! (John 8:32)
These same blessings of restoration and liberty are available today, but it seems the ‘oppressed ones’ are not aware of it or do not appreciate the revolutionary healing effect of this simple truth. To those, we say, as did the psalmist:
“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.”
– Psalms 34:8
And we declare:
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom”.
– 2 Corinthians 3:17
As an example, we see firsthand among Jehovah’s Witnesses the fear to take this leap of faith, though we are certain these same conditions prevail in other religious associations. For example, we hear from many wives whose husbands disrespect and abuse them while the Elders look the other way. We hear from both brothers and sisters who went to the Elders for comfort in trying times who were turned away and even chastised for their poor condition. We hear from so many who were disfellowshipped for fleshly weaknesses and caused to beg and plead for years to be reinstated, while they languish in spiritual and social isolation. We hear from a great number who wish to discontinue associating with the congregation for reasons such as these, but who are being emotionally extorted to remain lest they, too, lose the association of their own families! And we hear of thousands who feel severely betrayed and abused by the organization they put their trust in for decades. These ‘oppressed ones’ need relief. They need to be released and ‘set free.’ They need a Jubilee!
To all such ones, we implore you to take your stand on the side of Christ Jesus as heirs of the heavenly kingdom. Know that you are not friends of God, you are sons of God deserving of the heavenly abodes being prepared for you. (John 14:1-2) When you realize your true heritage, your true purpose and your true destiny, there is no power that can conquer you. You become the conqueror! So do not allow yourselves to remain victims, complaining and crying about the imperfection of men. Arise as victors! As Paul counseled the 1st century brothers:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
– Hebrews 12:1-2
There is an inward strength in being free. And from freedom, the scaffolding of a stalwart character can be constructed that is able to stand through any and all seasons. Therefore, crave pure spiritual milk’ of the plain and open teachings of Jesus (1 Peter 2:2-3) and clothe yourselves in the spiritual armor:
“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
– Ephesians 6:13-17
This call to action is being heard and heeded around the world. You are not alone. In addition to your worldwide spiritual brotherhood of the children of God, you have the indwelling Spirit of the living God within you (1 Corinthians 3:16), you have the guidance and comfort of the Spirit of Truth beside you (John 14:26; John 16:13), and you have the support of numerous angelic beings all around you whose purpose is to help you reach your destiny. As our Lord proclaimed nearly 2,000 years ago to the ‘oppressed ones,’ you are free. This is your Jubilee!