“I tell you for certain anyone who sins is a slave to sin.” (v.34)
Jesus’ mission was to preach the Good News which is: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”
In this passage from Luke 4.18-19 Jesus is letting us know that we are slaves, poor, captives, blind and oppressed. The remedy is the “acceptable year of the Lord” which can be understood as the Kingdom of God. Can you imagine there being bondage of any kind in the Kingdom of God? He says: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand (right here right now); repent (change your mind), and believe in the gospel (good news).” Mark 1:15
We find Jesus talking here to believers (v.31) who do not understand what he is saying. Sound familiar? (v.43), “why can’t you understand what I’m talking about?” I’m reminded of Jesus’ statement on the cross “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Luke 23.34
What is the sin we are slaves to? Sin from the Greek; hamartia means to miss the mark. The commentator from the online Blue Letter Bible says of this word; “It is the most comprehensive term for moral obliquity.” Maybe what this commentator is pointing out here is that the word hamartia itself is a morally oblique term. It is very possible this word is used on purpose to describe an amoral condition of blindness or ignorance. That we have not offended God for the simple reason we are unable to reason. We cannot see the target (God) and we have no clue as to how get there. Is this a moral failing or just the condition we find ourselves in?
Some of the synonyms for obliquity are: ambiguous, darkness, inscrutability, murkiness, mysteriousness, and opaqueness. Of course we keep missing the mark because we cannot see the mark. Is it not inscrutable that theologians would take such a morally ambiguous word and create an entire moral system based on the idea that God hates what spiritually blind people do? Of course God does not hate anyone and he is no more offended by our actions then we are of mentally compromised people. We just don’t know what we are doing. And this ignorance has us imprisoned, slaves to our insanity. There are no Venal sins, no mortal sins, no sins of omission and no sins of commission. These theological terms describe only one condition our inability to see.
There really is only one sin from which all our mistakes have their root. We mistakenly believe we are separate from ALL there is. God. We believe in the impossible. We believe in something that can never be. There are not thousands of choices for our happiness there is only one; choose God or we are stuck in our blindness.
Here is what Jesus’ contemporary theologians had to say:
39 Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”
40 Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?”
41 Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains. (John 9 NIV)
This was said after healing the man born blind.
What we have done is cloak our ignorance in the fig leaves of theological thinking and convinced ourselves we can see. “Abraham is our father.” “We have just one father, and he is God.” said the people. Because of what they were taught they believed they could see.
For many of us our minds are full of theological theories and because we accept them and have called them MINE we are very attached to them. Did you know that your most important possessions are your beliefs? Aren’t we willing to kill for them even die for them? Unfortunately history proves this all to true. With this insight we see that the people in Jesus’ day were just like us. I find it interesting that at the end of Luke 4 and the end of John 8 the people are trying to kill Jesus. Isn’t this something we need to watch for in our lives? How do we react when someone threatens our theology? Do we demonize them? Once we do it is a very short path to the killing fields.
For the past 20 years I ave been a professional caregiver mostly working with people with Alzheimers and dementia. During this time I have been hit, accused of stealing, thrown up on, yelled at, told to leave etc. I would have not lasted very long in this work if I had taken any of this personally. These people no longer know what they are doing. In comparing our intelligence and spiritual insight to the creator of the known universe does it not seem that the human race has a case of Alzheimers? Now into this scenario comes a caregiver, a comforter who tells us we aren’t in our right minds. And why? because we have made a mistake, we believe that we are separate from God. This belief has given us dementia and we now think we are OK. However deep down inside there is a small bit of remembrance of how things used to be. It is this memory that Jesus is speaking to. It is like during those times of clarity when the one with Alzheimers remembers the name of her husband and begins to talk of all the wonderful things they used to do together.
What keeps us a prisoner? My mistaken belief that I can get back to God without help—”I can see.” This is where all of our insane actions (sins/mistakes) come from. I will have more than I need if I steal it. And we have forgotten we are sons of the King. I will have more love in my life with just one more lover. And we have forgotten that God is Love.
This way of interpreting hamartia in the light that God is not offended in any way brings us to a place where we must take another look at the death of Jesus and its purpose. But that is for future posts. Why if God is not offended did all those animals have to be sacrificed and why did Jesus have to be “sacrificed”? Just something to think about. And what of guilt?