JUSTICE, if it does not fit the crime then it is not justice.
Jesus quoted Isaiah 61: 1 in Luke 4: 18, “I …have come to set the captives free.” Who were these captives? Can they be compared to the criminals in our jails? The answer is No!
In Jesus day, criminals were kept in dungeons and very few were ever released. Joseph son of Israel was in an Egyptian prison working as a slave. The captives were people that were forced into slave labor very similar to the slaves kept in the South on plantations. In the land where I was born, large landowners had many serves. Some served to pay their debts; others were forced into service by occupation forces. Jesus depicted such a time when he advised his disciples, “If someone strikes you on one cheek, let him have the other also. If someone wants your coat let him also have your jacket. And if someone forces you to go a mile, then go two”(Mt.5: 39-41). Those of us that have lived under tyranny, found Jesus’ suggestions very apropos.
In the Hebrew system, debtors were to be set free in seven years and those that lost property were to repossess it in fifty years. This was one of the laws Jesus had come to fulfill, namely to set the captives free. Murderers, child molesters, rapists and other heinous criminals were executed. The ancients had no detention centers to keep criminals alive at the expense of the citizenry. Persons that accidentally committed a crime were allowed to flee to a city of refuge where they could earn a living while proving their innocence.
Britain had penal colonies for prisoners that did not commit capital offences. The Nazis and Soviets were trigger-happy; nevertheless, they had labor camps. In Germany, the captives kept the forests free of wildfire. They all earned their keeps. In the U.S.A. we house them in hotels at the expense of the victims. Just how long do our humane leaders think the victims can afford such perversion of justice? It is ironic that our justice system can dismember infants in their mothers’ wombs, but it cannot terminate capital criminals? What has happened to justice?
The issue is, “Who are the captives that need to be set free?” Definitely, they are not those that are incarcerated, but those that keep them there. Did not Jesus tell us to visit those in prison? Yes, only they were not the criminals. They were Jesus’ brethren that were imprisoned by the criminals.