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Jesus Came to Set the Captives Free

March 22, 20245 min read

Jesus Came to Set the Captives Free

Isaiah 61:1 (NIV)

“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.”  

Jesus sets us free from captivity and binds up our broken hearts!  This is the ministry we are called to join Him in.  I love that this verse says that He sets both “captives” and “prisoners” free.  This says to me that whether you were taken captive (a victim), or you committed crimes for which you were imprisoned (a sinner), Jesus sets you free!  He doesn’t really care how you got trapped - He will set you free regardless. Hallelujah!  This same ideology is reflected in John Ch. 9 when Jesus heals the man who was born blind.  His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, why was this man born blind? Was it because of his sins, or his parents’ sin?”  “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.” (NLT) Again, Jesus wasn’t concerned with what caused him to be in this condition, but only with healing him - and that for the glory of God.  This is the difference between the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and the fruit of the Tree of Life.  Figuring out the sin or the cause is using the knowledge of good and evil (which produces shame/condemnation and/or pride).  Healing the man is about producing life - not only in him, but also in those who heard (and continue to hear) this testimony.  Freedom from captivity is about finding life! It is never about producing shame for the one set free nor pride for the one setting free.

Jesus literally went to the prisons after His death on the Cross and set prisoners free.  There are actual spiritual realms (described in great detail in the Bible) where Jesus went - and still goes - to set people free.  (“Regions of Captivity” by Dr. Ana Mendez Ferrell describes these regions and her experiences with following God in setting captives/prisoners free from them).

Most Christians are very familiar with the passage in Eph. 4:11 about the 5-fold ministry gifts.  But do you know that directly preceding that is the announcement and good news that Jesus sets captives free?  That is His order of things - set people free first, and then give them gifts!

Eph. 4:7-11 (NLT)  “However, He has given each one of us a special gift through the generosity of Christ.  That is why the Scriptures say,

‘When He ascended to the heights, He led a crowd of captives and gave gifts to His people.’

Notice that it says ‘He ascended.’ This clearly means that Christ also descended to our lowly world. And the same one who descended is the one who ascended higher than all the heavens, so that He might fill the entire universe with Himself.

Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church:  the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers.”

I believe the instruction is clear:  If you want to see the 5-fold ministry gifts increase in the Body of Christ, let Christ set you free from any captivities you’re under and participate in the process of Christ setting others free!

Setting capitves/prisoners free is a somewhat different model or approach than what we know of as deliverance. Deliverance is focused on kicking the critters out, whereas setting captives free is about getting the one in bondage out of that place of bondage. It is helpful for me when praying for someone caught in captivity to picture the scene and pray accordingly. Of course, our goal is for Holy Spirit to show us the person (or portion of the person, as the case may be) in captivity, where they are captive, and what's holding them there and then how to pray for them to be released. For example, let's picture a boy stuck in a cave with a gate and lock over the front of it. There are guards guarding the door and lock. So as we approach this boy, we first need to deal with the guards. We can bind them in Jesus Name and we can command them to leave. Once that is done, we can then use the Keys of the Kingdom to unlock the gate. Then we can open it and either call the boy out, or go into the cell and help him out. Once out, we can bring him to a hospital, if necessary, or to a good place. I often picture the green pastures of Psalm 23 and Jesus carrying this lamb to that place for healing and restoration.

See how that is a different process than "deliverance" - where a critter is oppressing or inhabiting a person, so you pray in Jesus' Name to kick that critter out and send it away? Jesus did both of these things - deliverance and setting captives free - and we can too! Ask Holy Spirit to give you revelation about what is needed in each case.

These are very encouraging promises to families with troubled children.  Christ will set you and your children free and give you each special gifts! Hallelujah!

Lorraine Martinson

Christ-follower, Married mother of 3 children, 2 of whom were adopted from foster care, with passion for the younger generation to come into healing and fullness.

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