Declare the Victory! Set the Captives free!
My Fellow Pilgrims in Christ Jesus,
The Lord Jesus declared His “Mission Statement”, that is, the purpose for which He was sent from the Father, when He read in the synagogue the section from Isaiah that reads;
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to heal the broken-hearted,
to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free …
to proclaim the Year of the Lord’s Favor”
(Luke 4:18-19) (cf.,Is.61)
Yes, brethren, the Lord Jesus, has proclaimed the “Year of the Lord’s Favor”, the New Covenant of Redemption, but how many of us have appropriated the spiritual freedom that comes with that proclamation?
As it is for other spiritual statements in the Word of God, in order for this Word of God to reach our hearts and thus have any effect on our lives we must first, personally identify with it, accept it in faith, and let it make its home in our hearts! This is what is meant by a “Rhema” word – a Word that has been activated to produce fruit for His Glory!
In this regard, how many of us, brethren, can identify with the categories stated – those for which the Good News of the Kingdom is to be proclaimed, namely, the “poor”, the “brokenhearted”, the “captives”, the “blind”, and the “oppressed”.
Most of us that live in relative prosperity and security can usually identify with one or two of the categories listed in the scripture cited above, but we usually have trouble in identifying ourselves with categories such as “poor”, “captives”, “blind”, and “oppressed”. It is my belief that this is one of the reasons why the Fullness of the Good News is not being realized amongst us in the prospering nations is exactly because our material circumstances prevent us from seeing that, with respect to our spiritual state, ALL of humanity is covered by the categories listed.
Because of the fallen state of our human nature and the influence of the world, we tend to only assess our material and physical circumstances and ignore our spiritual state before God. In essence we find it hard for this word to be a “Rhema” word for us.
For instance, we don’t identify with “captives”, because we only envision captives as those who are behind bars in a prison or prisoners of war in a prison camp. We think we are free but, spiritually, we are really in bondage to the emotional and psychological trauma brought on through the circumstances of our lives and our sin nature that keeps us in captivity.
The reason we don’t see ourselves as “blind” because we not aware of our spiritual blindness. And it is this very blindness that keeps us from assessing our spiritual captivity. We are blind because we have been conformed to the ways of the world and deception by the Kingdom of Darkness that controls the world systems so that we only see what the “god of this world”, Satan, wants us to see.
Because so many of us are psychologically and emotionally disabled, we may relate to the category of the “oppressed”. But even there we attempt to avoid coming to the realization that our problems with oppression are more spiritual than emotional or psychological.
We all have this tendency to discount the spiritual over the material or physical that we observe and sense.
Even John the Baptist, when in prison, had this type of doubt. Since he was obviously a physical prisoner of King Herod, and, since he believed that Jesus had come to set the “captives free”, why wasn’t Jesus working on delivering him from captivity? For this reason John sent his disciples to ask Jesus, ” … are you the One who is to come or shall we wait for another?” (Matt. 11:3)
In order to help John to come to a proper spiritual assessment of who He was, in the spirit, Jesus, told John’s disciples to look at circumstances through a different perspective, God’s perspective, and see the Kingdom of God being manifested through His ministry. “Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.” (Matt.11:4-6) (cf., Is.35:5 ff)
I bring this to your attention brethren, because, unless you understand the fullness of the deliverance and healing that comes from Christ and His sacrifice on the Cross, your faith in obtaining access to the Blessings and Victory of the Cross will be greatly diminished!
Yes, even if we don’t realize it, we are spiritual captives and in desperate need of the Good News that Jesus, by His death on the Cross and His Resurrection, has delivered us from our captivity in the Kingdom of Darkness and set us Free! But because we are in the grips of the world we have hardened our hearts to hear the Word of God, by which Freedom and deliverance is obtained through Faith!
Some of us are captives because we have been ensnared by the trauma of living in this fallen world – by the abuses we have suffered, by the broken relationships we have endured, by the addictions and sins we have committed and committed against us. By the rejection we have suffered and the weight of the emotional and psychological burdens the trauma of these circumstances have placed upon us.
This is the main reason many of us have hardened our hearts, so that not only do we not respond to our friends who try to help us, but we also close ourselves off from the very Word of God, which was sent to proclaim the Victory of the Cross and bring us deliverance from the very state we are in!
It is exactly from this type of captivity that the Lord has come to deliver us.
St. Paul put it this way: “… the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” (Rom 8:2)
This is the perspective of the Good News that your spirit has been waiting to hear – The Good News of the Victory of God’s Kingdom over the Kingdom of Darkness. A Victory that sets you free to be the person the Lord God created you to be.
It is the Father’s desire to set us free because He Loves us and wants us to be free so that we can fulfill the His will and His plan for our lives:
“ ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. ‘Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. ‘And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. ‘And I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD,..” (Jer. 29:11-14)
Even though we are believers, we have let our fallen state lead us into the dominion of the world system. It is through the allure of this world, and the deception of the enemy that we have been wounded and taken captive by the enemy to hinder us from living out the destiny the Lord has for each of us. And, because we have not been taught how to appropriate the deliverance from bondage – the spiritual freedom that is our legacy, we continue to be bound by these anchors of our past - our sins our failures, our suffering through abuse and betrayals.
But NOW the Lord has come to proclaim His Word to us anew – a Word that proclaims that all our past sins and our past problems have been crucified on His Cross and that through His resurrection from the dead we are all become as New Creations through our faith in Him! Praised be His Holy Name!
All we need to do is hear His voice calling to us and, through the hearing of faith, respond to His call – listen, then with your spiritual ears. to what He is saying:
“My children, My children, come to me! Come to me and lay your burdens at the foot of My Cross! Repent and believe the Good News for I suffered and died for you and your faults. Do not continue to be burdened by them! You are Free – Free to follow Me – Free to be one with Me and share in my Glory!
You have been delivered from your past – if only you unite yourself with me and let me be your Present and your Future! Leave your past behind, yield yourself to me and let me work in you and through you to bring forth the destiny for which I created you! All you need you do is ask! Ask and you will receive! Do this my Children, do this, for I dearly love you and desire for you to be united with Me in eternity!”
For those of us in the Catholic tradition, that is exactly what the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist provide – a place to draw near to Him – place where we may ask and receive!
First – a Door of Grace and Reconciliation is opened where, in faith, we lay down our sins and our burdens before Him and appropriate the forgiveness and freedom He won for us 2000 Years ago on His Cross!
And Secondly – the Eucharist, a Door to Holy Come-Union with Him, beckons to us as we partake of His Body and His Blood and so renew and strengthen His presence in us to accomplish the Father’s will for our lives, now and forever! Praised Be His Holy Name!
In partaking of these mysteries we appropriate the Eternal Victory of the Cross and bring His Victory into overcoming manifestation into the present moment in our lives! He is our Passover Lamb and in celebrating the Eucharist we are participating in the Spiritual Passover where we leave the Land of Egypt (the land of fleshly bondage) and are poised to enter into His Promised Land (the Land of His Kingdom and Spiritual Freedom)! Praised Be His Holy Name!
Yes, my friends the sacraments act, not only as our Passover, but also as our “Jacob’s ladder” into eternity to bring down the fruits of the Redemptive Graces of His Passover and their power to enforce His Victory over the kingdom of darkness. The Redeeming Graces and Divine Power that sets us free from our spiritual bondage and liberates us to obey and serve Our Blessed Savior with our yielded lives forever ! Baruch Ha Shem and Amen!
For, as He fervently told His skeptics when He told them that He was the “Bread of Life” and that only in eating of that Bread can we abide in Him …
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. “For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. “As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also shall live because of Me. “This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate, and died, he who eats this bread shall live forever.” (Jn. 6:53 -58)
The “Life” that He offers us is a sharing in the Divine Life (our Promised Land), a life that Jesus terms “Eternal Life”. This is the Life of the Trinity in us – A Life that frees us to experience and be everything that the Lord has destined for us – not only in eternity but right NOW in our present situation. For has He not told us that He is the “I AM”, the God of the “Now” and the God of all our Future “Nows”.“But, …” some of you might ask, “how do we enter into this redeemed life, of which we are just coming into?” My dear brothers and sisters, the Door into the Victory of the Cross in our lives is “Love”. But not the natural kind of Love, rather, it is the Divine kind of “Love” – “Agape” Love – The love that has been poured into our hearts By the Spirit of God (Rom.5:5). The self-sacrificing kind of Love that places the blessing of others above our own well-being and sanctifies our empowerment (cf. 1Cor.13 ff)!
And, the key action of faith that releases this Divine Love is to forgive all those who have hurt or abused you in any way; emotionally, psychologically, verbally, or physically. This is the “Door” that is presented to us as being derived from the reception of our daily “holy communion” bread, in the prayer that Jesus taught His disciples ….
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Your Kingdom come [in me and through me].
[so that] Your will [may] be done, on earth as it is in heaven. [And to sustain us in our weakness,,]
Give us this day our daily bread [manna from heaven].
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not bring us to the time of trial [beyond what we can handle, and so that we may not fail you in our walk with you …] rescue us from the evil one.
For if you forgive others their trespasses,
your heavenly Father will also forgive you;
but if you do not forgive others,
neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Jesus expanded this teaching further when He exhorted His disciples on the character of this type of Love …
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven, give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” (Luke 6: 32-38)
Our first Pope put it this way…
“Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing. It is for this that you were called—that you might inherit a blessing.” (1 Ptr. 3:8-9)
It is up to us, then, brothers and sisters, to choose to follow Jesus’ directives in order to activate our faith to receive the Blessings of the Cross and Resurrection in Faith and not let the circumstances of our lives and past mistakes deprive of the spiritual Liberty and Freedom that is our heritage. With our faith thus activated, Let us go forth into life as Redeemed sons and daughters of the Father to live out our lives for His Glory and not to intimidated by the “accuser of the brethren”!
In this way you put your “old man” on the cross, and put on the “new man” in Christ yielding yourself to Him in everything, yoking yourself to Him so that your life is no longer yours but His! Praised be His Glorious Name!
“Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” (Rom:6:6)
“And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” (Eph. 4: 23-24)
Yes, in following Jesus, we will meet criticism and opposition, and even rejection for our stand, but be encouraged, taking St. Paul’s exhortation to the Romans to heart, where he says
“What then are we to say about these things?
If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else?
Who will bring any charge against God’s elect?
It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn?
It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who [then] will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (Rom.8: 31-35)
“[ shall we then, say? ] As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all day long;
we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.” (Rom.8:36)
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom.8:31-39)
“Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors!
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is the King of glory?
The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors!
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory. (Ps.24:7-10)
As we join in His march of Victory, we must always keep in mind, brethren, that although the Ultimate Work of Grace on the Cross, is perfect and complete in Christ through eternity – it is only through a continuously active Faith that we can appropriate and bring the eternal graces of that Victory into manifestation in our lives – that is, into this natural space-time continuum in which we exist! That is why we must Let Love Reign in our hearts in all that we think or do or say.
That is also why the church, for our benefit, provides the sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist continuously in our times, so that He can energize our faith in His Victory and thus manifest that Victory in our daily Lives. In this way, as we proceed along life’s treacherous path we may always have access to the Graces of Christ’s Eternal Cross and Resurrection and His Eternal Redemption, permitting us to proclaim and manifest Our Lord’s victory over death and sin through our redeemed lives and our empowered witness.
To Him be Honor and Glory forever and ever! Amen and Amen
Your fellow servant in Christ Jesus … Bartimeaus
(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2012])