Isaiah prophesied about Jesus’s coming, his work to heal those who are hurting and to bring freedom to those who are bound. Isaiah’s prophecy continued 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. People were hoping that he would be a military King, who would overthrow the Roman oppression and implement freedom and equality for the Jews. Unfortunately, Jesus did not come to establish an earthly kingdom, but to die for mankind.
Contrastingly, the religious leaders at the time were mostly concerned with religious dogma. They were more interested in maintaining their status and alignment with the government, than they were with 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. Moses was grieved by the systemic oppression of the Jews by Egypt. This was the catalyst for his mission in leading them to freedom. Jesus’s message is one of freedom from bondage and oppression. 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.
The church has a role to play in supporting disadvantaged groups. 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 a willingness to listen. Systemic oppression relates to the intentional disadvantaging, of groups of people based on their identify, while advantaging members of the dominant group (nationalequityproject.org).
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. “learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause” (Isaiah 1:17).