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,
Luke 4:18 KJV
The guard lowered a bucket on a rope from his perch in the tower outside the fifteen-foot razor-wire-topped chain-link fence. Each of us dropped our driver’s license into the bucket and watched as the guard pulled it upward. Satisfied with our identities, he returned each license following the same process.
We then stepped through a gate into a wire cage between two rows of razor-wire-topped fencing. As that gate locked behind us, the entrance to the prison yard opened. Once inside the prison, each of us signed the registration sheet with name, purpose, and driver’s license number.
The chaplain escorted us down the hall and into the cage where an officer took our driver’s licenses for photo identification purposes. The huge iron bars clanged closed behind us. Only then did the iron gate that opened onto the hallway leading to the chapel release us to walk our sound equipment into our place of ministry.
For a brief moment in time, we were captive.
As I turned and looked down the hall behind us, I caught a glimpse of a sign attached to a wall of iron; “You are now entering Death Row.” Over four hundred men lived behind that iron wall. My heart sank as I thought about their fate then jumped for joy with hopeful expectation of what God might do in the hearts of the broken, bruised, captives who would hear His Word presented on that night.
I soon discovered God’s presence saturating the chapel as many men in white raised their hands and unashamedly praised the Lord. Their bodies held captive. Their hearts set free. I thought about men and women outside prison walls who walk freely in society but are often held captive by sin, heartache, sorrow, and pain.
The Greek word translated bruise in this verse is thrauō; to be oppressed, downtrodden or broken in pieces. Is that you? Are you oppressed, downtrodden, burdened, abused…? Is your life broken? Are you held captive by sin, grief, illness? Have you built an iron cage around your heart?
Hopefully, you will never know the sadness of prison incarceration. Yet, how much greater the sadness of a heart held captive. I have great news! There is hope for your captive heart. His name is Jesus, and He has come to set you free. He can put the broken pieces of your life together and heal your captive heart. Believe Him. Accept Him. Trust Him.
© Joyce Powell