September 2023 | Acts 5—Generosity and Corruption

Nazareth Manifesto Release and Recovery

Nazareth Manifesto Release and Recovery

Dr. Kris A. Jackson

Loose him and let him go!” Jesus commanded His disciples, as they, shaking in their sandals, watched Lazarus, bound in grave-clothes, exit the sarcophagus. He had been clinically dead fora full four days. Take a whiff! Interesting story, both mystifying and “myth”-tifying. Let me ask, is the working of miracles a myth? Or do believers still have authority to “loose on earth, and it shall be loosed in heaven”? Miracles, signs, wonders, and the release of captives are works modern believers rehearse from Bible days, but seldom, if ever, repeat in our own day. “Blinded eyes opened? In my city or village? The norm for any typical Sunday? Not possible!” Yet, the day of miracles has not ceased because a miracle Christ is seated at God’s right hand. 

He said, “The works that I do shall you do also”, even greater works in scope, “because I go to my Father” (John 14:13). That is the key phrase. Christ is ascended, seated at the Father’s right hand, and in administration over His body, through which He intends to continue the work He began while in the body. The risen Christ exchanged a finite and local human body for an expansive, global Body through which He could extend what was commenced in Nazareth.

Remember, after the Holy Spirit descended and rested upon Jesus when he was baptized by John in the Jordan River, followed by a forty-day fast, He “returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee…” (Luke 4:14) Dunamis power was upon Him. There He entered his boyhood synagogue and quoted Isaiah’s prophecy concerning the coming Anointed One, the Messiah – “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised” (Luke 4:18).

Look closely at the phrasing in that text and notice five “B’s”, the Bankrupt, the Brokenhearted, the Blind, the Bound and the Bruised. Five is the number most representative of grace. We are to minister God’s grace to a hurting world. In this series Christ’s ministry commission is being termed the“Nazareth Manifesto”, a manifesto because it encapsulates the basic job description of our Lord while He walked on earth. John, in so many words restated the manifesto, that the Son of God was “manifested that he might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). Are we destroying the devil’s works or just trying to maintain a Sunday morning crowd? The Nazareth Manifesto was not Christ’s ministry model alone, it is the marching orders for the church. Church ministry is more than sermons, sacraments, fellowship and hospital visits. it is the breaking of bondages and recovering of what has been robbed by the evil one – in two words, Release and Recovery.

Christ was Saturated

Of first importance, the commission is performed through the power of the Spirit – “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him” (Acts 10:38). A minister without the Holy Spirit is like a light bulb without electricity, a car without petrol, a gun without bullets, a sail without wind or a heartbeat without blood. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me!” Can you declare it? Ministry is not by mental might, not by numerical, financial or technical power, but “by my Spirit, says the Lord” (Zechariah 4:6). Similarly, Jesus announced, “Without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

Christ was Sent

Being saturated, the man or woman of God is then sent – “He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted…” Some are “sent”, others presumptuously “went”. God’s appointing requires God’s anointing. Jesus hadn’t healed a single sickness prior to announcing His ministry manifesto. No one had been raised from the dead. In fact, there is not even mention of Him preaching a single sermon until He could boldly proclaim that the Spirit of the Lord was upon Him. Being full of knowledge has merit, but “full of the Holy Spirit” takes priority. 

Notice, He was sent to preach, then sent to heal. Preaching and healing fit hand in glove. The one is not complete without the other. The church is a university for learning God’s principles and a hospital for loosing God’s power. 

Christ now Superintends

In this message, we will concentrate only on the two ministries of release and recovery, delivering the captives and recovering of sight to the blind. 

Obviously, there are more ways to be bound than to be addicted to drugs or held captive by demonic possession. Those specifics are included but it is much more common to see people bound by repeated failures, years of criticism, constant negative input, a host of phobias and so on. Likewise, there are more ways to be blind than to have failing eyes. Many are blind to truth, blind to their own inner potential, blind to God’s love, blind to the devil’s deceptions and blind to the ripe harvest that surrounds them.

The prayer of the church should be, “Lord, open our eyes”, and, “Lord, break our chains”. If we are to obey the Nazareth Manifesto we must major on those two areas. In every corporate gathering, eyes should be opened through the proclamation of the word, and chains snapped as faith responds to the word.

Deliverance to the Captives

First, let us discuss the matter of release, our commission to “preach deliverance to the captives”. With preference for teaching, I love to break down the word and make it understandable, but chains are broken, not by teaching but by preaching, by proclamation that builds faith in the hearers and brings them to a point of conviction about God’s truth – “the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing” (Acts 10:27). Preaching, in this context, is electrified teaching, a message that is “plugged in” to the divine current. 

The Greek word translated “deliverance” normally speaks of remission of sins or forgiveness, so it is important to know that not all deliverance involves intense spiritual warfare or breaking of stubborn spiritual strongholds. In truth, most deliverance is a matter of helping the listener see that he or she is accepted, forgiven and made free through the work of the cross. 

The word used for captive comes from a Greek term meaning “a spear”, in other words a captive is one controlled at the tip of a spear. 

In 2 Timothy 2:25,26 Paul explains this captivity. First, he said he instructed “those who oppose themselves”. Before progress can be made, a person must quit being his own worst enemy. Second, he prayed that God would “give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth”. Deliverance requires a change of mind which can only happen when captives believe and receive the truth, for the truth is what makes free (John 8:32). Third, he suggested that through knowledge of the truth “they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil”. Delivering captives does not always require loud rebukes and long sessions of prayer, armed with truth the captive can take his own stand against the evil one. Finally, Paul mentioned that those who oppose themselves and fail to walk in truth “are taken captive by him at his will”. The roaring lion seeks whom he may devour. Satan is on a hunt for precious souls.

But Christ purchased every man’s freedom on the cross. This is the message we proclaim – “If the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36). Free indeed and free “in deed”, because the New Testament is the recorded deed or contract of what is ours in Christ. The gospel, or Good News, is the proclamation of that completed purchase. 

Recovering of Sight to the Blind

And then there is the matter of recovery, “and recovering of sight to the blind”. To recover means to take back, to re-seize or to reinstate. The devil has no right to take for himself what has been purchased at Calvary. David recovered all (1 Samuel 30:18). He would not settle for partial reclamation. Believers “shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (Mark 16:18). Hearing the truth of God’s word is discovery, but applying the truth learned to our own losses is recovery. 

And what is to be recovered? The man with the withered hand recovered use of his hand. Joel promised that the years the cankerworm had eaten will be recovered. Solomon judged that if the thief is found, “he shall restore sevenfold” (Proverbs 6:31). Jacob shall possess his possessions (Obadiah 17). Job recovered his losses and was awarded double for his trouble.

But the chief ministry of recovery deals with “sight”, that is, having a vision for life, focus in ministry and revelation or insight into the wisdom of God’s word. Jesus opened the eyes of the blind on a few occasions. One saw “men as trees walking”, vision was blurred until there was a second touch. He applied mud to another man’s eyes and had him rinse at the Pool of Siloam. After the mud application, a combination of dust (“Adam, dust thou art”), and Christ’s spittle, representing the anointing of the Spirit, the blind man was ordered to wash in the pool, a type of “the washing of regeneration”. Upon obeying the simple command, he “washed, and came seeing” (John 9:7).

I can picture the neighborhood ruffians teasing, “Hey blind man, where are you going with the mud in your eyes?” To which, we can assume he answered, “I’ll see you later!” And see them later he did! The Spirit of the Lord was upon Christ for “recovering of sight to the blind”.

Paul’s chief prayer for the Ephesians was, “the eyes of your understanding being enlightened” (Ephesians 1:18),and his chief mission was, “to make all men see” (Ephesians 3:9).There is much ophthalmology in our theology. The preacher of the gospel is a spiritual optometrist who has cast the plank out of his own eye that he might see clearly to do the delicate surgery of removing impediments from the eyes of those who would see Jesus. 

The obvious requirement would be that the spiritual optician himself be able first to see before he can prescribe a lens through which others can see. The lifeguard must be able to swim before he ventures to rescue the drowning. 

From Nazareth to the Uttermost

So, the minister of the gospel needs all chains broken in his own life, plus he or she must be able to pass a biblical eye exam. Nothing frees like freedom. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free” (Galatians 5:1 NIV). Our worship must be free, our consciences free, all restraints in giving, loving and praising, free. Breaking captivity is a choice. Paul and Silas praised God with stocks on their feet and bonds on their hands. They did not allow the inner man to be shackled. If you need deliverance confess your faults one to another and don’t be too proud to receive prayer to break whatever bondage is there. But the key, as mentioned earlier is to grow in truth, and further, to seek deeper intimacy with the Holy Spirit, for “where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty”.

Also, it takes sight to minister sight to the blind. The more a person can see in God’s word the more he can help others to see, so we must be on a constant quest for revelation knowledge. God’s people “are destroyed for lack of knowledge”. The problem lies in thinking we have full revelation when we only see in part, “through a glass, darkly” (1 Corinthians 13:12). Pride claims to have 20/20 vision and refuses to accept any possibility that its vision is impaired. The minister who is most successful at recovering sight to the blind is the minister who is aware of his own weakness. Keep seeking and you will keep seeing – more and more. 

How do we respond to the Nazareth Manifesto? You may not have forty days to get alone in the desert as did our Example, but through ongoing sessions in the secret place all can rightfully make the declaration, “the Spirit of the Lord is upon me”. The “gospel to the poor” is an invitation to preach to the poorest in Third World environments as well as the poverty of soul found in the wealthiest high-rises of Singapore, New York or Dubai. The brokenhearted are passed on every street corner. The bound sit on our church pews as much as they sit in federal prisons. Need is all around us if we will only look (and listen). 

Ask for a fresh baptism in the Holy Spirit. Then lift your voice, louder, I said louder, not in volume but in clarity, “preach deliverance to the captives”. And let the devil know you mean business because “recovery” of sight means you are planning on entering his camp and taking something back that has been stolen. It was tried and tested in Nazareth, it will work to the ends of the earth.  

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