“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed” (Luke 4:18).
Who are these captives? According to most Christian thinking, the ‘captives’ are all of humanity from Adam onwards. They are held captive by the ‘Evil One’ in bonds of sin, and only by crying out in repentance to Jesus can He set us free from the guilt of those sins. Those that do not seek His forgiveness through repentance, or have not been personally chosen by the Father, will remain in bondage forever, being punished for their crimes and non-repentance.
Yes, it was satan that held humanity captive with the bonds of shame and guilt, driven by the fear of death. For even Adam immediately hid from God because of the fear of punishment (“you shall surely die”). But is that the full answer regarding our captivity? We must recall that Adam had accepted the ‘Lie’ of satan that humanity was not godlike and that the Father was a despot. It is the continued acceptance of the ‘Lie’ which held humanity captive – not to satan – but within our own thinking.
Jesus came to destroy the works of satan (1 John 3:8), which meant that He had to show that the ‘Lie’ was indeed a lie, and then lead us into a state of living in the truth. It is often correctly stated that Jesus came to show us the Father, but even more so, He came to show us our true selves. In Jesus we see the humanity of God and the divinity of humanity. As Adam led all of us into the mind-prison of the ‘Lie’, so Jesus (the Last Adam) has freed us from that mindset and into the reality of our oneness within the Godhead. Saint Paul puts it quite bluntly, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God“ (Romans 12:2). On the Cross Jesus not only took upon Himself the punishment of death for all of humanity, and in His obedience He passed true judgement against the ‘Lier’.
What are we set free to? John 10:10 gives us a clue, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly”. Life in abundance! Not just an abundance physically, but going back to our original quote from Luke 4:18, a life rich in the blessings of God (Ephesians 1:3), our hearts are healed allowing us to ‘love God, our neigbours and ourselves’, we no longer need to be held captive by the limits of our wrong thinking, we can now open our understanding to the truth and see ourselves as God designed in Genesis 1:26, and we are no longer oppressed by the fear of death for we now know we have life eternal united with God.