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The Work of Christmas . . . to release the oppressed

The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me…to release the oppressed.”
Luke 4:18

Political unrest was rampant in Israel as Jesus travelled its roads, preaching the good news to all who would hear. The Roman governors in its various provinces were constantly at odds with the Jewish hierarchy. Oppression was rife. As you are well aware, King Herod summarily killed all the boys in Bethlehem under the age of two in order to quash the threat of the one who has been born king of the Jews (Matthew 2:1-16).  

The online Bible Background Commentary tells us that only four miles from Nazareththe capital city of GalileeSepphorishad been destroyed by the Roman armies due to a Messianic revolt. Perhaps we can give the townspeople the benefit of the doubt at their fury as they attempted to throw Jesus over the cliff (Luke 4:29). Maybe they feared equal retribution. Maybe not. Certainly they were oppressed. 

Just think of the good news they were missing out on.Jesus had told them He was anointed by God to release them from all that fear, all that oppression. They should have celebrated, at least inwardly. Or maybe they did. At the brink of the hill outside Nazareth, Jesus somehow walked right through the crowd and went on his way (Luke 4:30). 

Now don’t get me wrong. The good news had the potential to light the way to eternal life while freeing them from satan’s grasp. But the oppressors would not leave them alone. The apostles were all mercilessly put to death for their faith, and even today the stories of countless martyrs abound. The difference would prove to be found in the hope that arises when you have Jesus on board.

Ladies, we in this country haven’t seen anything yet. The pilgrims came here to practice their faith openly. Religious persecution is once again rearing its ugly head.   

As the folks in Corinth figured out the tension, we can tooWe are hard pressed on either side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed (2 Corinthians 4:8-9). That’s good news.

Nancy P

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