Again I saw all the oppressions that are done under the sun. And behold, the tears of the oppressed, and they had no one to comfort them! On the side of their oppressors there was power, and there was no one to comfort them. And I thought the dead who are already dead more fortunate than the living who are still alive. But better than both is he who has not yet been and has not seen the evil deeds that are done under the sun. Ecclesiastes 4:1-3 ESV
[Jesus said:] “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19 ESV
During the Middle Ages in Europe, many people were peasants. That meant that they didn’t own any property, and for most of them everything they had belonged to the lord of the manor where they lived. They weren’t free to move, and they had to spend some days each week working for the lord on his land. They leased their own land and had to pay high taxes on it. They worked long hours just to provide food and clothing for their families. They lived in mud huts, and they mostly ate bread, porridge, and peas. They had very little meat, and many didn’t have milk or cheese. If the weather was bad, the crops failed and they sometimes starved to death. Life was very hard, and often no one seemed to care about them. They hoped to go to heaven after they died, but there was very little to look forward to while they lived on earth.
Ecclesiastes talks about how sad it is when people are oppressed like this and no one cares about them. This happens throughout history and around the world, and if oppressed people don’t have any hope of being with God after death, they might wish they had never been born rather than to go through such a hard life with nothing to look forward to except death. For people who are oppressed, life seems meaningless and hopeless. When we learn about the terrible lives some people have, we might feel very sad about it and wonder why God allows such things to happen.
We can’t always understand why things are the way they are, but we do know that Christians want to help people who are oppressed to have better lives and to give them comfort in any way we can. We do this because we know what it’s like to be oppressed. We were under the power of sin and all the forces of evil, and we were helpless to free ourselves. But Jesus came to set us free from sin, death, and the devil, and now we are his people who have hope in this life and on to forever. Because Jesus set us free by dying and rising for us, we do what we can to comfort and set others free, and especially to share the good news of Jesus with everyone.
Dear Jesus, thank you for loving us and setting us free. Please help us to share this freedom with others. Amen.