Jesus Preached "Good News" of "Liberation" from Babylon
The publication: Isaiah's Prophecy -- Light for All Mankind, volume 2, page 322, paragraph 4 makes the following comment:
"... Isaiah writes: “The spirit of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah is upon me, for the reason that Jehovah has anointed me to tell good news to the meek ones. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to those taken captive and the wide opening of the eyes even to the prisoners.” (Isaiah 61:1) Who is the one commissioned to tell good news? Likely, in the first instance it is Isaiah, who is inspired by God to record good news for the captives in Babylon. However, Jesus pointed to the most important fulfillment when he applied Isaiah’s words to himself. (Luke 4:16-21) Yes, Jesus was sent forth to tell good news to the meek, and to this end he was anointed with holy spirit at his baptism.—Matthew 3:16, 17."
We recall the above bible text the Watchtower Society is speaking on is drawn from Isaiah 61:1-2 which says:
(Isaiah 61:1-2) 61 The spirit of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah is upon me, for the reason that Jehovah has anointed me to tell good news to the meek ones. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to those taken captive and the wide opening [of the eyes] even to the prisoners; 2 to proclaim the year of goodwill on the part of Jehovah and the day of vengeance on the part of our God; to comfort all the mourning ones;
We notice in verse 1, it says to “proclaim liberty to those taken captive and a wide opening of eyes even to prisoners.” As shown above, these scriptures are explained by the Watchtower Society as a special message of “good news for the captives in Babylon” who are ‘liberated’ from captivity to Babylon...for those returning from Exile in Babylon. This was to be a message of comfort and hope for the Jewish nation, after leaving captivity in Babylon. Therefore, this message then, became a message of "good news" of release from captivity from Babylon, originally, as penned by the prophet Isaiah. This is how we are to understand these verses...the "good news" of release from captivity to Babylon, as shown in Isaiah 61:1.
However, we are also reminded that at Luke 4:18, Jesus applied these SAME WORDS to his "ministry" to the nation of Israel, in the first century. We remember, Jesus said:
(Luke 4:18) “Jehovah’s spirit is upon me, because he anointed me to declare good news to the poor, he sent me forth to preach a release to the captives and a recovery of sight to the blind, to send the crushed ones away with a release,
Now, we must ask ourselves an important question: Why did Jesus apply these words, the words from Isaiah 61:1, 2 to his own ministry in the first century?
Could it be, Jesus was too, in a "liberation" work...liberating spiritual "captives" from a sort of spiritual "Babylon" ... of his time? Could this be possible?
Yes, just as the scripture says, Jesus preached the "good news" of “liberation” to the Jewish nation who were in SPIRITUAL CAPTIVITY to the religious leaders of his day. Jesus preached a message of "liberation" from a spiritual "Babylon" of his time. And thus, Jesus "liberated" his spiritual brothers from an oppressive, religious system, that enslaved the people of his day...those that took away the "key of knowledge" and that worked to constantly hinder the nation from entering into the "kingdom of God." An oppressive religious system, that left the entire nation, spiritually bankrupt, spiritually in need and impoverished, spiritually "imprisoned," a nation spiritually "blind." Thus, Jesus came to "open the eyes of the blind," and "preach the good news to the [spiritually] poor" within the nation of Israel. -- See Matthew 11:5, Luke 11:52.
When we compare Isaiah 61:1 with Luke 4:18, we can begin to discern, that Jesus really saw the religious leaders, the Pharisees & Sadducees of his time, truly comparable to Babylon. Yes, Jesus actually portrayed these oppressive, religious enslavers of people, as those who rendered the nation to a state of abject slavery. As ones who had brought the nation down to a type of spiritual "captivity" to be controlled, by those wicked religious leaders of the nation. Even though, many viewed these religious leaders as "lofty ones" before God, still these proved to be in the end, "disgusting" leaders in God's sight. They proved to be the real villains before God, who had actually had "skinned" and "thrown" the sheep all about, before Jesus came. -- See Matthew 9:36; Luke 16:15.
Therefore, Jesus came in the capacity as a Great "Liberator" of the people. He came, yes, as The "Greater Cyrus," to truly "liberate" the "lost sheep of the House of Israel" from the existing religious tyranny exercised over the nation itself. Jesus came to give a "release" from this special form of spiritual "captivity" imposed upon the nation, by the religious leaders of the nation. And thereby exposing, what we today can consider actually, the first century equivalent of enslaving "Babylon" of his time. As we recall, Jesus' ministry was confined to the nation of Israel. And we remember, he went only to the "lost sheep of the house of Israel," ... those who were truly in spiritual "captivity" to this miniature oppressive "Babylon" of his day. -- Matthew 10:6; Matthew 15:24
So when we think about this, we'd have to say, this is a very interesting idea to ponder over, a provocative thought, wouldn't you say? Namely, that Jesus "liberated" the nation of Israel, with a message of "good news" of "release" from spiritual "Babylon" of his time. Thus, the real reason he quotes from Isaiah 61:1, 2 in the first place.
But lets go a little further with this, lets take a look at Revelation 11:8:
(Revelation 11:8) And their corpses will be on the broad way of THE GREAT CITY which is in a spiritual sense called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was also impaled.
I think we all can agree that this scripture is talking about Jesus’ impalement. As we recall, Jesus was impaled just outside the city of Jerusalem. (Hebrews 13:12, 13) And here the inspired writer refers to Jerusalem as the “great city.” Yes, this is the same "city" that Jesus' "impalement" was associated with...with the city of Jerusalem, the place where Jesus was "impaled." However, we notice this city "Jerusalem," is also called the “great city” ...does this sound familiar? Well, if you are a reader of Revelation then it should. As this phrase (the "great city") is mentioned some eight times in the book of Revelation, referring in all instances to the Greater Mystery, Babylon The Great of our modern-day time. -- See Revelation 11:8; Revelation 16:19; Revelation 17:18; Revelation 18:10, 16, 18, 19, and 21.
Thus we notice, this verse above shows us the city of "Jerusalem" was in a spiritual sense, filthy, decadent, oppressive, tyrannical in God's eyes. Thus, in this "spiritual sense" then, it became comparable to ancient Babylon, which held God's People Israel, in spiritual captivity during Jesus' day. Therefore, above we see:
Jerusalem = Decadent "Sodom"
Jerusalem = Oppressive "Egypt"
Jerusalem = The "Great City" = Babylon, captors of "my people" Israel (Rev. 18:4)
So Jesus has told us something in his own words from Luke 4:18. Jesus quotes Isaiah 61:1 because Jesus also has a “liberating message” for the Jewish nation...a message of "good news." Jehovah God sent his "anointed" Son to "liberate" the nation of Israel with the ‘good news’ or message of "release" from a "miniature" Babylon the Great, so that they would no longer be "captives" to a wicked religious system that guided the nation of Israel at that time.
Of course, we know...not many a ‘hearer of the word,’ will give the above information, real serious consideration. In fact, it becomes just like in Jesus’ day, when many failed to "see," "hear," or recognize the great importance of the message that he preached. (John 12:39, 40) However, if you are one of the ‘chosen ones’ that is truly searching for Divine Truth...if you are one who wishes to "worship God in spirit and truth" (John 4:24), then it is just like the scripture says in Isaiah 61:1, you too can have a “wide opening of the eyes even to the prisoners.”
Just as Jesus said...
(John 10:27) My sheep listen to my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
(John 8:47) He that is from God listens to the sayings of God...
(John 18:37) ...He that is on the side of Truth listens to my voice.
***This article was contributed by YORWW Bible Academy found at the LivingWatersForum.com website.***