In 160 countries, an estimated two billion people worldwide will celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25. In the United States, nine out of ten will partake in this religious holiday, even if they are not Christians. Many will maintain that the meaning of this sacred day is Jesus, the Savior and the Prince of Peace. All this is true, but did you ever consider that Jesus and liberty are closely connected?
Let Freedom Ring
When discussing Christianity and Christ, there is but one place to go – the Bible, or as those within the faith call it: the Holy Scriptures. So, let’s test our proposition about Jesus and liberty against the word of God.
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
A yoke is a wooden crosspiece that binds together two animals to work in tandem to pull a cart or a plow. A yoke essentially serves as a restraining device. When the apostle Paul refers to the “yoke of slavery,” he is talking about something that binds us and makes us slaves.
Many different yokes can bind us today: opioids, alcohol, money, and power are a few. But Christ, Paul says, “has set us free.” Some erroneously believe that Christianity is a strict system of rules and regulations, but in reality, its essence is liberating.
“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
In the eighth chapter of the gospel of John recounts a fascinating story of a woman caught in adultery. The religious leaders of the day wanted to stone her to death for the crime. Today we might think this an excessive response to her behavior, yet, throughout the world, many cultures prescribe shockingly similar punishment. However, the answer Jesus gave to the Pharisees is telling: “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Then, in verse 34, Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
Both references are vital to understanding liberty in Christ, for the Scriptures refer to Jesus as “the Truth” and “the Son.” Freedom comes from knowing Him and holding to His teachings. These are not yokes but guides that Jesus gives for our freedom and good.
“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body, God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins.”
The ultimate liberty Jesus provides the believer is freedom from death. Everyone dies, but it is the Christian who is rewarded with eternal life. Perhaps this is why many Christian burials, while sad, are joyful events. This world is not the final resting place for those who believe in the Truth, the Son, the Savior. His coming into the world saved us from the law, from our sin, and from death, with His promise of a glorious life ever after. Nowhere is this more beautifully elucidated than in the “Hallelujah Chorus” of George Frideric Handel’s oratorio “Messiah.” Within that divine piece of music are the words repeated over and over that “He shall reign for ever and ever.” The beauty is that, according to the Scriptures, we will reign with Him (Rev. 5:10). As well, this liberty in Christ includes freedom from the following according to Rev. 21:4:
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
So this Christmas, our hope is that you will have joy, peace, and love within your home and heart. But most of all, we hope you will throw off that yoke of slavery and take hold of the freedom and liberty that come with knowing Jesus Christ.
Read more from Leesa K. Donner.