The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted…
The Jewish jubilee was a legislation which never worked. Let us see what Christianity has done instead in the way of social reform.
1. Christianity has abolished slavery. Not by preaching direct political action, but by preaching the equality of all men as children of God. It has given men a new interest in one another, and a new relationship to one another, secretly transforming human character, so that slavery became impossible and melted away as ice — which will not melt under blows — melts before the sun.
2. If, again, you consider how cruelly debtors were oppressed, you will see how wonderfully that has been changed by the influence of Christ. Some of the best Romans that ever lived complacently consigned their debtors to slavery; and in other countries debtors were imprisoned and their lives rendered hopelessly miserable; but Christianity has greatly altered such things, and has compelled mankind to treat debtors with humanity.
3. The evil of chronic pauperism still faces us, and we can see no conceivable method of getting rid of it, except by a wider spread of true Christian feeling among the whole population. What else can we look to? Legislation? How can legislation do it? Legislation will not make people industrious, and skilful, and self-restraining. Nothing else but Christian principles of love and virtue will do that.
4. Alienation of land. Legislation could not completely get rid of this evil, for the simple reason that the nation is not yet good enough. If to-day there were three acres and a cow given to every man in England, before ten years, or even one year, had elapsed there would be some with thirty acres and ten cows, and the rest with none. The nation has not sufficiently advanced in morality, industry, and self-control for such an equality to exist, and the attempt to force it would only produce idleness. But reform will come in the way Christ indicated: it will come from the inner spirit. When men become better, then happiness and prosperity will naturally follow. There is no cure for the evils of this world — its competition, and crushing, and failure — except this inner reform of the spirit, the faith in Christ, and the love of God and of man. Like all God's laws, it works slowly; but it is sure, and in the end it will bring about that for which it was framed.
(J. M. Wilson, M. A. .)
Parallel VersesKJV: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath 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,
WEB: "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim release to the captives, recovering of sight to the blind, to deliver those who are crushed,