“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;” Isaiah 61:1
Isaiah prophecies about Jesus’s coming and his work to heal those who are hurting and to bring freedom to those who are bound. Systemic oppression relates to the intentional disadvantaging of groups of people based on their identify, while advantaging members of the dominant group. (nationalequityproject.org)
The church has a role to play in supporting disadvantaged groups and the work starts with our conversations and a willingness to listen to the ways in which people communicate their hurt. Dismissive attitudes are unhelpful and the only way to understand what people need is to show the willingness to listen.
“to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn;” Isaiah 61:2 Isaiah’s prophecy continues to expound on Jesus’s mission to proclaim favour on God’s people, the day of God’s vengeance and to bring comfort to the hurting. The Jewish society was extremely divided at the time of Jesus’s coming and people were hoping that he would present as a military King who would overthrow the Roman oppression at the time and bring about freedom and equality for the Jews.
The religious leaders at the time were more concerned with religious dogma and maintaining their status and alignment with government than they were in meeting the needs of the oppressed people. Jesus did not seek alignment with the religious leaders but often stood in disagreement with their practices and teachings.
We can draw parallels with Jesus’s ministry and that of Moses who was grieved by the systemic oppression of the Jews by Egypt which was the catalyst for his mission in leading them to freedom. Jesus’s message is one of freedom and although his strategy was one of peace and a wilful submission up to the point of death; his message continues to be world renown and his very name brings healing and freedom.
We boldly declare the gospel of Jesus Christ and work to bring about freedom, healing and reconciliation. Jesus came to set the captives free, to bring justice where there is injustice and bring comfort to the hurting.