We live in an inconsiderate time. As I write this, I am experiencing with you the unprecedented government lockdown to tackle the Coronavirus: remembering those who have already died, astonished at those who are wilfully disregarding such orders, and becoming anxious over the various myths and rumour that swirl our social media accounts. We live in a time of adversity, where my most natural impulse is to hoard as much as I can so those dearest to me do not go without. We live in an inconsiderate time, and I am a part of it.
In Luke chapter 4:18-19, Jesus recites a famous Old Testament passage from Isaiah 61 and applies its fulfilment directly to himself. The passage uses a term translated as “release” or “freedom” applied for those who are bound or imprisoned. This idea was not new to Isaiah but was written into the festival season of Jubilee (Leviticus 25:10) where Israel was to provide liberty to land and its inhabitants. It was a time of releasing social burdens and the collective sin of society, freedom of debt, slavery, poverty and oppression. Everything was to be made anew. This release was written into the social calendar of Israel as a marker of generosity, where all society would reset, releasing those bound or imprisoned. This would be done regardless of what adversity the nation faced. That is what Jesus claimed to do in that Nazarine synagogue.
We need to have a Jubilee and Jesus mindset in this unprecedented and inconsiderate time. We are called to bring good news as Jesus did, releasing the imprisoned with a generous spirit. We need to look to the welfare of our neighbours, whoever they may be and ask, how can I help to release your burdens? To the single parent struggling to hold finances and entertainment for children, or to the refugee and homeless, uncertain about where their next meals are coming from. These are our imprisoned neighbours who are longing to be free. How can you bring Jesus’ claim of generous release to them?