The “opening of the prison” in Isaiah 61:1-2 is God’s own figurative illustration of our release from bondage or imprisonment to sin, sickness and everything else that reached us through the fall. It covers every phase of our redemption and salvation. Jesus opened the prison for us by bearing our punishment.
What I have to say applies equally to every bondage known to man. To help the sick and afflicted I am, at this time, thinking of the physical phase of the Gospel. But if you are physically well and your problem is one of the many others covered by redemption, then think of your problem as an open prison, and follow these same instructions. You can thus keep God busy fulfilling His promise to you and live in the experience and enjoyment of your freedom.
The Opening of the Prison
What is meant by “the opening of the prison”? It means that the prisoners are free accordingly. Moffatt so translates it, “To tell prisoners they are free, to tell captives they are released.” Jesus opened the prison for us by bearing our punishment. “Jehovah hath caused to meet on him the punishment of us all” (Isaiah 53:6 Dr. Young’s translation).
In Deuteronomy 2 all sickness is listed among the punishment of God for rebellion. However in Galatians 3:13, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.” This tells us that Christ redeemed us from sickness.
In Rotherham’s translation of Isaiah 53:10 we read, “He hath laid on him sickness.” Matthew 8:17 says that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, “Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.”
Jesus paid our debt and since it does not have to be paid twice, we are free! How are the sick to get out of their prison? First, they must know that the prison door is open. Faith must have a divine act to rest upon.
They must know the “joyful news.” Accordingly Jesus said, “The Lord hath sent me to proclaim good tidings…to announce release to the prisoners” (Wesmouth’s translation). Jesus said He came “To proclaim the opening of the prison to them that are bound.”
Jesus used this word “bound” when He said, “Ought not this woman whom Satan hath bound be loosed…?” Sickness is a bondage from which we have been redeemed. Jesus also said, “He hath sent me to set free the oppressed” (Moffatt).
All sickness is called “oppression of the devil” in Acts 10:38: “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.”
The sick must have the Word in their mouth and in their heart. Romans 10:8 says, “But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach.”
It is important to say here that, connected with “the word of faith” in each of God’s promises is the provision, “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord” (Romans 10:8-10). When coming to God for salvation in it’s initial form, and then in every successive form afterwards, our confession and acceptance of His Lordship over us is the condition. Christ does not save those whom He cannot govern. “For to this end Christ both died and rose and revived, that He might be Lord, both of the dead and living” (Romans 14:9).
Until we gladly acknowledge His Lordship over us our priorities are wrong. It is always a principle in the Christian life that you “make God’s Kingdom and righteousness your chief aim” (Matthew 6:33). Then, “no good thing will He withhold” from us. We are not to seek our redemptive blessings selfishly that we may waste them on our pleasures. Because of this selfish motive James says to some, “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss” (James 4:3).
Right Thinking and Right Believing
After knowing that the prison is open, the first thing God requires of man is to accept God’s requirements of man and that he forsake his way and thoughts and accept God’s way and thoughts (Isaiah 55:7). One reason why so many fail to obtain and enjoy the things which God has provided and given to them is they try to discern them by one or more of the five physical senses instead of by faith.
Since the fall the natural man is bound and imprisoned by his physical senses, they keep him looking at his symptoms instead of being occupied with the Word of God. The opening of the prison frees him from this bondage, making it possible to see and know beyond what the physical senses register. Man’s way has been to judge by the walls of the prison instead of by the open door. True, the walls are there, but the prison is open.
Faith Requires No Evidence
Faith is blind to all but the Word of God. Paul says, “We look not at the things that are seen.” When we rely upon physical evidence we repudiate the Word and faith has no opportunity to exercise itself. “Let him forsake his thoughts.”
Right thinking and right believing must replace wrong thinking and wrong believing before we can intelligently act on the freedom that is already ours through redemption. Man’s thoughts have been that the prison is locked and that he is not free. He must forsake such thoughts and think the truth, the truth that the prison is open, and therefore he is free to walk out.
One man thinks that his disease will kill him, while the enlightened man knows that he can be healed. Both of these men have faith. But one has faith that his disease will kill him, while the other has faith in God’s promise to heal him. The sick man must “forsake” his way of judging according to the walls of the prison, by his symptoms, and he must accept God’s way of reckoning according to the open door. A man can be in a prison without being locked in; in that case he is free. This is a “joyful message.”
In the next place, this is a “joyful message” – “good news” – “glad tidings of great joy to all people.” As soon as it is believed it produces joy. Jesus says in this text, Luke 4:18, “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, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”
Year of Jubilee
The Gospel Age was typified by the Old Testament year of Jubilee. The Hebrew word, translated jubilee means, “a time of shouting.” It was a happy year because God said on the day of atonement, in this 50th year, “Ye shall return every man to his possessions.”
Just as the Gospel Age is a “time of rejoicing” over the restoration of all our lost possessions through the fall, health for soul and body and every other blessing included in our redemption, God’s promises themselves, when truly believed, become the rejoicing of our heart before they are fulfilled (Jeremiah 15:16). David said, “I rejoice in thy word as one that findeth great spoil.”
Future vs. Past Act
Believing and rejoicing that we are free precedes our first step out of our prison, or bondage to sickness. The absence of rejoicing would prove that you do not really believe the proclamation that you are free. Faith is believing that you are already free before walking out.
The sick person must forsake the thought that his freedom is a future act. It is not a future act. It is a past act. Your use of your freedom may be a future act on our part, but it should not be – you should walk in the light now. The door to your prison has been open a long time. “By His stripes ye were healed.”
“Himself took our infirmities and bare our sicknesses (Matthew 8:17). Christ’s announcement, “They are free,” is what you are to believe now before you walk out, just as a man believes he has money in the bank and is free from poverty before he draws a check. Calvary was your “Emancipation Proclamation” from everything outside the will of God.
The “Emancipation Proclamation” by Abraham Lincoln made the slaves of the South free before they knew it; but they did not use their freedom until they were informed of it. Then they did not judge according to their surroundings, but by the proclamation.
How to Receive Your Healing
The sick person must believe he is free because of the open prison door and then act accordingly. Unless faith has corresponding actions, God’s Word says that it is as dead as a body without a spirit (James 2:26).
“The opening of the prison” has made you free, but you will be in prison until you rejoice and walk out. No one else can do your part for you. No one else can forsake your way and thoughts for you. I cannot pray you out of prison without your cooperation. Jesus said, “He that heareth my word and believeth (acteth accordingly).”
Jesus required action on the part of the sick He healed. He commanded the raised man himself, not the four that brought him, to take up his bed and go home. He commanded the 10 lepers to go and show themselves to the priest before their healing was manifested, and as they went they were healed. Jesus commanded the blind man before his healing was manifested to go and wash in the pool of Siloam. He commanded the man with the withered hand to stretch it forth.
Even in the Old Testament times Jonah sacrificed with a voice of thanksgiving, calling his prison walls “lying vanities,” not after, but before he got out. Naaman was required to dip in the Jordan seven times before his leprosy was cleansed. Even Christ Himself, after preaching the message of our text, “could do no miracle in Nazareth” because of their unbelief. Though He was divine, He could not heal them because they refused to do their part.
The greatly outnumbered Israelites under Jehoshaphat, because of the Word of God spoken through human lips, praised God with a loud voice, and then sang praises on their way to battle (2 Chronicles 20). Christ’s “joyful message” to the prisoners that “they are free” is the “word of faith” which is not only in the Bible, but is to be, as the Scriptures say, “in thy mouth and in thy heart” before its benefits are manifested (Romans 10:8-10).
Now suppose you were in prison, longing to get out, and the warden, pointing to an open door, should say to you, “Look, that door is open for you!” Would you rejoice? Would you lay on your bunk and wait for the warden to carry you out? Would you ask your friends to pray you out after they have already paid the court for your pardon and release? Your friends could come in and walk out with you, but not for you.
Fix your eyes on the open door and keep on rejoicing and walking, and the walls of your prison will soon be behind you, the manifestation of your healing will become history. Not only is, “the opening of the prison” release from every bondage, it is freedom to all the blessings revealed by the “exceeding great and precious” promises of God. Christ is able to save to the uttermost, not only from the lowest depth of sin and misery, but into all the positive enjoyments of divine favor, “to the uttermost” extent of personal need, external life.
His salvation is eternal, including an “eternal inheritance,” an “eternal crown,” an “eternal kingdom,” and “pleasures forevermore.” On the positive side of Christ’s salvation is matter for a thousand sermons.
Jeremy Caris is the founder and president of Caris Ministries. Since he is called as a prophet and gifted as a teacher, much of his focus involves equipping believers to hear, know, and follow God in their own daily experience. He teaches the foundational truth of the Word with simple clarity, while revealing deep things of the spirit in practical ways. He has the unique ability to demystify the supernatural side of real relationship with a living God and make it an embraceable and accessible reality for all believers. Jeremy has been married to his best friend, Mandy Caris, for eighteen years, and is the proud father of two boys.