14Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. 15He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone. 16When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: 18“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 proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, 19to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Jesus had just come from a forty-day fast in the wilderness, where he had battled (and won) intense temptation direct from Satan himself. Upon his return to civilization, Jesus ended up in his hometown of Nazareth, making his way to the synagogue where he announced his life mission statement, direct from the book of Isaiah.
As I read these words, “He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives,” I am reminded of the scene in “A Christmas Carol” when the ghost of Jacob Marley, bound in heavy chains, visits Ebenezer Scrooge on Christmas Eve.
Scrooge looked very unsettled by this, and quaked all the more violently. “You are fettered Jacob!” he said, his voice shaking. “Tell me why!”
“I wear the chain I forged in life,” I told him, repeating what Mortimer had told me in the courtroom. “I made it link by link and yard by yard. I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it! Is its pattern strange to you?”
Scrooge shook his head, his lip trembling.
“Would you know the weight and length of the strong coil you bear yourself? It was full, heavy and as long as this, seven Christmas Eves ago, and you have labored on it since. It is a ponderous chain you’re making, Scrooge!”
- I believe we are all captives, bound with chains, mostly of our own making.
- But the Good News is, Jesus came to set us free from those chains.
What are the chains that hold you captive? What hurts, habits or hang-ups keep you fettered in life? What keeps you from fulfilling your life’s mission statement?
Whatever it is, Jesus came to set us free. My prayer for you and for me is that this Advent season, we will take time away from our chains of busyness, stress and anxiety that tends to bombard us during the holiday season and simply rest in the presence of our liberator, Jesus of Nazareth.
Advent Application: Commit to taking 5-10 minutes each morning to read a devotional during the season of Advent, which begins the first Sunday of December. I will be offering daily devotionals on my blog: www.spiritualsidekick.com or you can find other great resources online, such as this one: http://www.d365.org/todaysdevotion/
If you prefer reading “hard copy” devotionals you can find some at your local Christian bookstore.