Through this man (Jesus)
forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you,
and by Him everyone who believes
is freed from everything from which
you could not be freed by the law of Moses.
I’m struck this morning by what must have been an inconceivable proclamation to the Jews in those initial years following Jesus’ death and resurrection. How much of the life of a Jew was constructed around making certain one kept the laws of Moses? How much time and energy was expended to keep oneself “clean” or to make amends for transgressions of the law? Wasn’t the bulk of life about maintaining a right standing with God?
I’m trying to imagine then, how significantly disorienting this message Paul was preaching would have been. Jesus was now offering the forgiveness of sins through belief in Him. The entire construct of the life of a Jew, since Moses introduced them to the law at Mount Sinai, was changed in an instant (for those who believed). The words that leap off the page for me this morning are freed from everything. I’m trying to envision being there in the synagogue and hearing Paul’s oration. I would understand the words all right, but I would be at a total loss to know what a life freed from the law might look like. I would have exactly zero frame of reference for living in light of that.
What would one do with his or her time, talents, and energies, now that they no longer needed to be spent securing and maintaining right relationship with God? For the first time in the history of the nation of Israel, those who ‘believed’ could look beyond themselves. In other words, the painstaking attention paid to one’s standing in the eyes of God would give way to a new preoccupation, namely, joining those who were proclaiming this exceedingly good news. Easier said than done! My compassion for those who lived in those very early years deepens as I struggle to live in the freedom I have been given.
I am led to stop and ask God the Spirit (who lives in me) if there aren’t aspects of my life where I’m living as a bound person rather than the free person I am in Christ. Because bound people are impeded people. Bound people are inward-focused people. Bound people tend to their bondage like a wounded person tends their wounds. In Christ, I am freed from EVERYTHING, but know full well I can and often do live as if I’m not. I don’t think I’m alone! What a coup for the adversary, that the Church would be full of bound-up, free people.
We were buried therefore with Him
by baptism into death,
in order that,
just as Christ was raised from the dead
by the glory of the Father,
we too might walk in newness of life.
For freedom Christ has set us free;
stand firm therefore,
and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
Father, the Kingdom stakes are too high for me not be on the field of battle. Those influenced by our culture and the world’s system of belief will NEVER find freedom there. I know it. How tragic that I, a freed person, would continue to live bound. Help me to walk in the freedom you paid so dearly to give me. Then give me Your eyes to see those about me who need Your good news.