P.O.W. stands for “prisoners of war,” a term first used about 1610 and originally meaning “a non-combatant – whether military member, an irregular military fighter, or a civilian – who is held captive by a belligerent power during or immediately after an armed conflict.” Going back to early history, captives expected to be slaughtered or used as slaves. The definition has evolved legally through the centuries but I gather it means someone caught by the enemy with certain legal procedures for being returned to their home country whether by exchange of prisons or paying of ransom. Prisoners have no status in their captured state and only have value to the one who wants them. So, we come to Luke 4:18, Jesus came to proclaim “freedom for the prisoners.”

Prison means there has been a clash of laws, powers, and the person is held powerless by one side. Spiritually we would say that in the war between the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of this world, we are prisoners of the world. We are held here powerless and of little value, doomed for death or slavery. Jesus, who sent disciples out to declare that “the kingdom of heaven is near,” also came to proclaim our freedom. We are of value to God and he is wiling to “pay the price” – the cross. That is a picture of salvation using a modern idiom. We are prisoners of a spiritual war going on in our reality, a war we cannot see except in the battle scars of killings, murders, abuse, poverty and hate. We see what we know is wrong and what we know we don’t want our lives to be impacted by but perhaps the question is whether we want to accept the freedom being offered and switch sides.

Jesus is proclaiming freedom to us who have been prisoners of sin but perhaps like POWs, we are still in the process of returning home, clothed in rags, wounded, hanging on the shoulder of a friend helping us. War is ugly and recovery is a lot of work. Some of us struggle with PTSD. Let us be gentle today with our fellow POWs who have found freedom and are recovery from the battles they fight. Take heart. We are valued and we are ransomed! God has said it. It is so.

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