He was born into captivity. God in a man’s body. That is imprisonment. But He chose to be born, to become a man, and to dwell among us. So that He could break us out. But, to set captives free, He first had to break out. At His baptism, the Spirit descended on Him like a dove. Immediately He was led by that same Spirit into the wilderness. Forty days of fasting…and we would all guess an enormous amount of quite time listening to His Father. Then the enemy, Satan himself, tried to imprison Him by trying the same thing he did in the garden…the enemy miss-quoted what God had said. Jesus passed through that test by letting Satan know ‘exactly’ what God had said (it is amazingly important to know what God says).
But this was not his first brush with imprisoned living. Jesus was born into an oppressive world where the governmental system was very dictatorial. And the prevailing religious system was incredibly regulated and systematic. A fishbowl religion in itself. And those living without God, in sin were imprisoned by the enemy. And those who were supposed to be there to point to God, had set up their own version of prison. Religious prison. The relationship with God had been missing from that system for quite some time.
Jesus was planning a prison break. He had to start the break Himself before He could truly break us out. It was all finished by the cross and the empty tomb. And at that point, He had then done all He was to do…this time. But let us back up a bit.
When did Jesus know all this? When did Mary tell Him about the visit from the angel? And when did Joseph tell Jesus his side of what happened with an angelic visit? How long did Mary ponder those things in her heart? When did Jesus begin to recognize He was different? That He was God? When did He know who He was and what He was to do? When did it come to His mind that Isaiah 61 was talking about Him? At the age of 12 He amazed those in the temple. After going back to find Him in Jerusalem, Mary, and Joseph “found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. And when his parents saw him, they were astonished.” Luke 2:46-48.
Jesus followed the customs of Israel and taught well till age 30. We have no record of where He taught and what He did. Only that Joseph was a carpenter/stone mason. We assume He did some of what His father did. Then there was that fateful day not long after his baptism and the forty days in the wilderness. It was His custom to go the synagogue on the Sabbath in Nazareth where He lived. He read from Isaiah 61. “And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:17-21. This was a drop the mic (or scroll) moment.
He had followed God and followed what was written, even to this point, when He said this scripture is fulfilled. However, at that moment ‘all hell broke loose’. Game on. A few verses later, “all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built so that they could throw him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, he went away.” Luke 4:28-30
Jesus simply moved on. From that moment on, He continued to do what His Father asked. He had up to that moment. But that day was different. He declared that He was going to set captives free. And that is what He started doing at once. And many did not like it. Because they had a system set up to keep people captive. They had their own aquarium. But the ones he came to set free were elated! From that point on in the gospel accounts, He chose disciples and went from city to city. He was a dangerous rebel according to the religious leaders.
He said what He shouldn’t.
He talked to who He shouldn’t.
He helped when He shouldn’t.
He healed when He shouldn’t.
He healed who He shouldn’t.
He ate when He shouldn’t.
He ate what He shouldn’t.
He ate with who He shouldn’t.
He ate where He shouldn’t.
He went where He shouldn’t.
He talked to women He shouldn’t.
He touched an outcast He shouldn’t.
He let the outcast touch Him when He shouldn’t.
He healed those he shouldn’t because the leaders called them condemned.
He was religiously unclean, and,
He didn’t ceremonially wash when He should have.
He broke every rule they had. But He broke none of Gods. He fulfilled Gods commandments while breaking their man-made commandments. He had no regard for their man-made commandments, but He followed God’s commandments to love God and to love others. He even re-stated it Himself when asked what the greatest commandment was. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40. Basically, He took a hammer and broke the glass of the fish prison that the leaders had constructed to keep an orderly religion. He broke Himself out of their prison, then set about setting a bunch of captives free. He picked up a hammer and broke the glass of the fish prison of His day. Just like He said He would. That scripture was fulfilled. And He was fulfilling it daily!
Are you fulfilling the scripture every day?
You say you follow Him. Do you?
I struggle daily with this. My prayer is that we can recognize fish prison activity and exchange it for thoughts and actions which not only set us free but free others too. Pick up a hammer!