Jesus said that he came to proclaim liberty to the captives. What did Jesus mean by that? Who are the captives and who has shackled them?
Since Adam's rebellion, all humans (except Jesus) have been born into generational captivity to Satan. First, all humans are born spiritually dead and disconnected from God. Their dead spiritual nature totally permeates their bodies, thinking, and emotions. This alone is enough to hold humans captive. However, Satan is 100% evil and hates God's creation. So, he further captivates humans using their cultural beliefs, religious beliefs, and horrific experiences at the hands of others. Generational sins and addictions are passed along. Depending on the brand of religion and culture, evil spirits manipulate and control in a variety of ways.
Jesus Christ triumphed over Satan and his evil forces when he died on the cross. In victory, Jesus Christ rose with authority over everything, spiritual and physical. He commands His followers to be His ambassadors and live truth-defined lives in His authority.
In the Philippines, we encounter rampant bondage to the spirits of fear, debt, and desertion. These spirits have burrowed deep into the cultural fabric, impacting the daily lives of millions.
For countless generations, fear has ruled daily lives. Fear of spirits, curses, and sickness are common. Spirits are feared and appeased through rituals, purchasing charms or by visiting a witch doctor. Fear of being cursed, either intentionally or by accident also is real.
Another aspect of fear is the fear of breaking the trust of a spiritual or physical patron. This ties into the spirit of debt. In the Philippines, it's possible to own someone if you become their patron. This is one of the pitfalls that can affect missionaries. A patron can use social or financial debt to manipulate, even cause people to desert their families.
Desertion is celebrated as a heroic value if it is done for financial reasons. However, the results reveal a wake of broken families and individuals.
When Jesus Christ entered the Philippines, He came to set the captives free. He commands His followers to study His ways and live Christ-like lives. He firmly instructs them to fear only God and be in debt to no person. Jesus Christ gives us His word, His Holy Spirit, and His authority. Christian parents are charged with the privilege of discipling their children and modeling Christ for them daily. As ambassadors for Christ, they are required to live free from the spirits of fear, debt and desertion.
How do Christ-followers attain this freedom in Christ? Most find it through discipleship, as they learn Christ's truth, reprogram their thinking and apply Christ's kingdom culture to their daily lives.
It takes patient, mature, loving, truthful Christians to teach Christ-followers to live out their victorious callings as ambassadors for Christ! The harvest is ripe! Bring the bondage-breaking liberty of Jesus Christ to those who are held captive.
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Jesus Christ
"I tell you. Open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest." (John 4) Notice three things that Jesus says.
Jesus says, "I tell you." Have you ever had someone take you aside and tell you something important? "I tell you." is a pretty serious segue into something really important. Considering who Jesus is, let's take note of what He says next.
"Open your eyes and look at the fields!" When a farmer looks at his fields that are ready for harvest, he sees something that demands his attention. Jesus is saying, "LOOK and feel the urgency! My fields need your attention!" Why does Jesus say, "Open your eyes and look?"
Look for what? Look for people. When Jesus said this to His disciples, He was in the middle of a harvest field, speaking to a specific woman who He was calling to Himself. He had left the Jewish comfort zone, to go find this precious sinner who would soon become a saint. When you walk through the harvest field, do you see specific people?
"Even now, the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life." Jesus is again speaking very specific truth that we need to pay attention to. He uses a term of urgency, 'Even now." Can you hear the immediacy in His word choice?
Notice that the laborer is reaping. Are you bringing in rice by the basketful? Where are the fields that are white with harvest? Will you consider moving to find those fields? One more thing to note, if you harvest, you get a wage. What is that wage? And, you get a harvest: "a crop for eternal life." There isn't anything better in your eternal life than that! Having your silo filled to the brim with eternal lives! When you think about what you've been storing up in your silos, do you think about specific people who have received eternal life because of your work in the fields?
Who is the farmer in this scenario? It's the Father! In the verse just previous to these, Jesus says, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work." Make this connection! When we work in our Dad's fields, we actually find food to eat! Harvesting satisfies us! And, it leaves us hungry for more.
We tend to get protective of our particular row of beans. We don't want to share our rice paddy with other harvesters. Sometimes, we run a fence around the perimeter of our pumpkin patch. It is important to notice that Jesus went out of bounds to find the Samaritan woman. He went into a neighbor's field. Jesus leaves us with the reminder that it's not our work or our produce that we're harvesting. All of the harvest belongs to the Father. Also, notice that the planter and the reaper may be different people. God knows that we love to take ownership. That's why He spreads out the harvesters and sometimes rotates the workers. It's important that we be willing to share the harvesting field with other workers. And, at times, we need to share the harvest! The harvest belongs to the King of the Harvest! Have you ever gotten too much zucchini? (Not that there can ever be too many zucchini!) Too much ripe produce creates a slow rot, unless you can spread the love around to your church and workmates! It's the same with making disciples. Fresh fruit is better than canned fruit. Share the produce and enjoy the unity of harvesting together.
Jesus says, "The sower and the reaper will be glad together." He doesn't mention denomination in this or views of baptism. He focuses instead on three things: Different seasons call for different skills. When the harvest comes, all of the team players are glad together. It takes work to plant, water, compost, fertilize, evangelize, till, weed, kill pests and varmints, disciple and harvest. Are you glad by yourself? Or, are you glad together with the other team players? Can you share in the evangelism? Can you share in the discipleship? Are you happy to work with God's fellow laborers?
Meanwhile! Beg the Lord of the Harvest to send more workers because the trees are heavy with fruit... (There is so much fruit in the Philippines, that the existing labor force can't even get to it all.) If you've worked in an orchard, you know that after the fruit drops to the ground it rots. There is only a short window of time for harvesting ripe fruit. Ask the Father to put you into a field that is heavy with harvest! Open your eyes! Look and fill your silo with eternally-living saints!
We're a family on mission to bring the good news of Jesus to the Philippines.