Jesus started his ministry by quoting a hope-igniting portion of Isaiah 61:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captive and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19 ESV).
Jesus lists five things the anointing of the Spirit would cause him to do:
- Proclaim good news to the poor
- Proclaim liberty to the captives
- Bring recovering of sight to the blind
- Set at liberty those who are oppressed
- Proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
I find it very fascinating that three of the five are proclamations (and an argument could be made that “recovery of sight to the blind” is a proclamation as well). The word proclamation means to announce or declare in an official or formal manner. These announcements and declarations:
- Are similar to what Ezekiel did when he spoke to the dry bones in Ezekiel 37
- Illustrate the truth that life is in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21)
- Demonstrate that Jesus knew the importance of getting people’s hopes up because hope is the healthy soil that enables faith to sink its roots in deep
The “hearing of faith” is what brings transformation and increase. “Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith?” (Galatians 3:5). As people hear and believe God’s message that things will get better (hope), it creates that reality.
Jesus was a walking hope machine. Let’s examine Jesus’ five prime assignments for spreading hope a bit more closely. His mandate was to:
- Proclaim good news to the poor – Good news gets people’s hopes up. Certainly, eternal life is the best news, but the word salvation literally means “saved, healed, and delivered.” The gospel is good news (hope) of breakthrough now for key areas of lack in people’s lives.
- Proclaim liberty to the captives – The first step of bringing freedom to a person or place is for someone to be sent to them who says, “You are free.” It is the Romans 4:17 principle of “calling those things that do not exist as though they did.” Just as when Ezekiel spoke life to dry bones, the proclamation of freedom brings hope and starts a chain reaction of dry deadness springing up to manifest new life.
- Bring recovering of sight to the blind –Everywhere Jesus went, He caused blind people to see and brought supernatural vision to those with a higher perspective.
- Set at liberty those who are oppressed –Through power, wisdom, and kingdom advancement, oppressed people will be set free.
- Proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor – Jesus was to tell people, “This year will be the best year of your life.” This year of favor seems to imply a Leviticus 25:10 year of Jubilee for those he spoke to.
Hope is the belief that the future will be better than the present, and I have the power to help make it so. Jesus certainly was not opposed to getting people’s hopes up and, as we have seen, did exactly that wherever He went. His continual proclamation of hope was an important aspect of his life and ministry.
“As the Father has sent me (Jesus), even so I am sending you” (John 20:21).
We too are to embrace the Isaiah 61 and Luke 4 mission of allowing the Holy Spirit’s anointing to flow through us to proclaim hope. “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23).
Are we to get people’s hopes up? Absolutely! People rarely follow hopeless leaders. The key is for us to have hope within ourselves for those we lead and serve. Yes, we need to be sensitive and avoid regurgitating formulamatic hope cliches when people are hurting, but great influencers are great hope proclaimers. When we, like Jesus, declare good news, freedom, and the time of God’s favor, we liberate captives and release the blind to see.
So, let’s get people’s hopes up like never before! The world will be happy we did. For more on this topic, listen to this week’s podcast here.
ABOUT STEVE BACKLUND
Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.