Friday, September 18, 2020

Friday/Saturday of Trinity 14

The Son's Life for Our Freedom

John 8:28-38 (ESV) So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.” As he was saying these things, many believed in him. So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.”
In the film Braveheart, Mel Gibson portrays William Wallace, a knight and leader of the Scots in the First War of Scottish Independence in the late 13th and early 14th centuries. Perhaps you have seen his rousing speech made on horseback before the demoralized Scottish troops. He encourages them to persist in their fight for independence from England, and the message he wants the Scots to send to the Brits is, “They may take our lives, but they'll never take our freedom!!!”
The sentiment Wallace and his fellow Scots were expressing was that they would rather suffer death than live in bondage to a political authority which they considered to be tyrannical. They were willing to die in order to achieve political and civil liberties. While this is a noble sentiment and we should always be thankful for political liberties we enjoy in this life, their importance pales in comparison with the liberty that Jesus is talking about in John 8 when He says, “If you abide in My Word, then you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Political and civil liberties are all temporary and easily changed or overthrown; they guarantee certain freedoms while we are living in this world, but at death they are all taken away.
On the other hand, the freedom that Jesus speaks of in John 8 is not temporary but eternal liberty from sin, death, and hell. We can see the everlasting nature of this freedom when Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” The liberty Jesus is talking about delivering to His disciples is true freedom from sin; He wants to liberate us from slavery to sin and have us dwell freely in God the Father’s house forever.
It is noble that men are willing to sacrifice their lives to achieve or preserve temporary earthly liberties for their neighbors, but consider how much more wonderful it is that Jesus would lay down His life to set us free from the guilt of our sin and in exchange give us His righteousness and everlasting life. The Son’s sacrifice of His life is our freedom from death. Jesus willingly said to His Father, “Give Me death for the sins of those slaves so that I can give them liberty!”
Early on in the ministry of Jesus, John the Baptist pointed to Him and said, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” Jesus came to the Jordan River to fulfill all righteousness, to accomplish the righteousness of God that liberates sinners from their guilt. At the Jordan Jesus was baptized with a baptism intended for sinners, yet He Himself had no sins to confess or be forgiven of; by taking that Baptism for us sinners He was loading the guilt of the sins of the world upon Himself, taking the bondage off of us and putting it upon Himself.
By taking our sins He places Himself into slavery to the punishment of sins, death. Yet He Himself was perfectly innocent so that He could be the blameless and spotless Lamb of God, dying in the place of sinners so that we can be set free from the guilt of our sins. On the cross Jesus pays to His Father the ransom price of His holy, precious blood and innocent sufferings and death in order to redeem us out of slavery to sin, death, and hell.
And Christ’s resurrection on the third day is proof that the Father was pleased with the Son’s sacrifice for sins. The grave could not hold Jesus down, but He broke the bonds of death and burst forth from the tomb, never to be captive to the weight of sin or death ever again. Then Jesus gave to His Church the proclamation of the Gospel as the means for the Holy Spirit to create saving faith in the hearts of sinners.
Jesus gave Holy Baptism as the concrete place where sinners receive liberty from slavery to sin and adoption as free sons in God’s eternal household. In Holy Baptism, you are set at liberty from the guilt of your sins and are given a new life to live as free sons of God in his Kingdom. In Holy Baptism, you have been given the Holy Spirit, and “the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17). If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed!
Prayer (LSB 333):
1. Once He came in blessing,
All our sins redressing;
    Came in likeness lowly,
    Son of God most holy;
Bore the cross to save us;
Hope and freedom gave us.
2. Now He gently leads us;
With Himself He feeds us
    Precious food from heaven,
    Pledge of peace here given,
Manna that will nourish
Souls that they may flourish.
3. Soon will come that hour
When with mighty power
    Christ will come in splendor
    And will judgment render,
With the faithful sharing
Joy beyond comparing.

4. Come, then, O Lord Jesus,
From our sins release us.
    Keep our hearts believing,
    That we, grace receiving,
Ever may confess You
Till in heav’n we bless You. Amen.

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