He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind

Context 👇

He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

  • Hi Luke, welcome to BH.SE - thanks for contributing! This question could be improved by providing a little more information around what exactly you're asking or showing 'research effort' of what you've already found out.
    – Steve can help
    Apr 22, 2021 at 10:14
  • 1
    Since that was just a direct quote from Isaiah that he was reading verbatim from a scroll, technically he didn't mean anything by it. He may have meant something by picking it.
    – T.E.D.
    Apr 23, 2021 at 3:08

4 Answers 4


Luke 4:18b

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind

Jesus healed a blind man in Luke 18:

40Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, 41“What do you want me to do for you?”

“Lord, I want to see,” he replied.

42Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.” 43Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God.

Jesus freed a man of demons in Mark 5:

1 On the other side of the sea, they arrived in the region of the Gerasenes. 2As soon as Jesus got out of the boat, He was met by a man with an unclean spirit, who was coming from the tombs. 3This man had been living in the tombs and could no longer be restrained, even with chains. 4Though he was often bound with chains and shackles, he had broken the chains and shattered the shackles. Now there was no one with the strength to subdue him. 5Night and day in the tombs and in the mountains he kept crying out and cutting himself with stones. ...

13He gave them permission, and the unclean spirits came out and went into the pigs, and the herd of about two thousand rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the water.

14Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. 15When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons sitting there, clothed and in his right mind

Peter literally was freed from prison in Acts 12:

7 And behold, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter’s side and woke him up, saying, “Get up quickly.” And his chains fell off his hands.

Freedom for the prisoners also means release of sinners from the guilt and bondage of sin as in Romans 8:

2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.


The Spirit of the Lord is upon me...

The passage in Luke refers to that recorded in Isaiah 61, just as you noted:

Isaiah 61:1: The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners;

Christ has been sent by God, upon whom few would deny the Spirit rested, to preach the good news of the Gospel "to the afflicted." These were those poor in spirit, with a low regard for themselves and their own station in life.

He preached deliverance to the captives: those who are captives to sin, Satan, and the Law. Upon His death by torture, He has saved all the faithful from ultimate destruction. By His teaching and eventual death, burial, and resurrection, Jesus is recovering sight to the blind (literally, as Tony Chan mentioned, as well as figuratively):

John 1:5: "The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

Christ opens the gates of darkness and frees the prisoners by offering spiritual sight to salvation. Of great significance here, also, is what Christ omitted in His proclamation: verse 2 of Isaiah 61. There, the prophet describes the impending destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.:

Isaiah 61:2: "To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn."


What does Jesus mean by this in Luke 4:18?

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind

Jesus proclaimed freedom from what?

Firstly back then the Jews were enslaved to human traditions and mistaken beliefs taught by their religious leaders. Jesus said to the Pharisees.:

Matthew 15:1-7 NASB

Tradition and Commandment

15 Then some Pharisees and scribes *came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, 2 “Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” 3 And He answered and said to them, “Why do you yourselves also break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘The one who speaks evil of father or mother is to [a]be put to death.’ 5 But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever I have that would help you has been [b]given to God,” 6 he is not to [c]honor his father or mother.’ And by this you have invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition. 7 You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy about you,

Secondly was to free mankind from the enslavement of inherited sin, God could forgive the sins of those who show faith and who accept the ransom He provided.

Hebrews 10:12-18 NET

Forgiveness from the enslavement of sin

12 But when this priest[a] had offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, he sat down at the right hand[b] of God, 13 where he is now waiting[c] until his enemies are made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by one offering he has perfected for all time those who are made holy. 15 And the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us, for after saying, 16 “This is the covenant that I will establish with them after those days, says the Lord. I will put my laws on their hearts and I will inscribe them on their minds,” 17 then he says, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no longer.” 18 Now where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.


ISAIAH 61:1 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captive and release from darkness for the prisoners. 2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor [snip]

As with much of Gods Word, there are layers of meanings. There is the superficial meaning - face value. That is, the literal meaning. This is well covered in another response.

But there are also ‘deeper’ meanings. Ones that need to be uncovered. But, these often require a foundation, one that cannot be fully explained‘on one page’. Follows is an overview, a summary...

good news to the poor.” - who are the poor? “poor in spirit” (Mat 5:3). When Adam ‘ate’, his ‘spirit’ died. Jesus came to ‘rectify’ this. And what happened when Adam ‘ate’ ...

GENESIS 3: 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened

Now again, you need a foundation. This did not mean they were ‘blind’. It means they ‘lost’ the use of their spiritual ‘eyes’ - because their ‘spirit’ instantly ‘died’ when they ‘ate’. And again, Jesus came to ‘rectify’ this. So we have that he came to “recovery of sight for the blind”.

This explains the multiple times the Bible talks about ‘seeing but see not’, and so on ...

MAT 13:13 Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, And seeing you will see and not perceive;

To ‘perceive’, means to ‘understand’ in your ‘heart’ [spirit]. Your ‘spirit’ has both ‘eyes’ and ‘ears’ - and it’s these that need to hear the Word.

Other parts of the verses you are querying also have ‘deeper’ meanings. One issue with ‘deeper’ meanings is that not all will accept these. Exactly what Jesus says many times. Essentially saying ... “[sigh] you just don’t get it”.

The reference to “freedom for the prisoners”. Prisoners to what? The Jews were ‘captive’ to the Law. Bound by the Law. And again, Jesus came to free them from that captivity - by fulfilling the Law for them.

These deeper meanings are not always obvious, and not even always accepted. You will need to consider whether you want to. There are other responses to consider.

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