27 Mar The Prisoners are Free! – 3/27/20
Isaiah 61:1 – “…the opening of the prison to those who are bound…”
Prisoners have been set free! Such a beautiful picture of the work of Jesus, particularly when we realize that we were the prisoners! He was, of course, not speaking of physical imprisonment, for Jesus Himself, along with the Apostles and His followers, experienced physical imprisonment and death. What then is this promised freedom, prophesied here in Isaiah and fulfilled in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection?
1. Jesus set us free from sin and death. Before Jesus, we were not simply people with a pesky, nagging sin problem. We were enslaved to sin, and we were dead in sin (Rom 6: 6,17 & Eph 2:1). Not only this, we were powerless to save ourselves. Left to ourselves, we would have died and come under the eternal wrath of God for our sin. But God, when we were dead in sin, made us alive in Christ, delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, thereby setting us free from sin and death. (Eph 2:4-5, Col 1:13, & Rom 8:2). Though rebellious and undeserving, we can now joyously and confidently sing:
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer;
But this I know with all my heart –
His wounds have paid my ransom
2. Jesus set us free to serve God and one another. Our freedom in Christ now means both a freedom from sin and death, and a freedom to serve God and one another through love (Gal 5:13). We are now called both slaves to righteousness and adopted sons of God. Our enslavement to righteousness is not to earn God’s favor, for we cannot improve upon the imputed righteousness of Christ. Rather we are called to follow Jesus because of our identity as a son or daughter of God. And though enslaved to God, what beautiful bondage! For as before our enslavement to sin led to death, now our enslavement to God results in “sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life” (Rom 6:22, see also the rest of Rom 6, Rom 8, and pretty much all of Galatians).
3. Like Jesus, we are called to proclaim freedom to prisoners: This knowledge of what Jesus has done for us should change how we view the unbelieving world and spreading the Gospel. I too often unconsciously approach evangelism from a position of weakness. I assume the rejection of the message. I fear the objections that may arise. I doubt my ability to handle questions. I expect the reaction of disdain to the “foolish” message which we preach (1 Cor 1:23). My internal preparation is often more similar to one preparing for a debate rather than as a herald of the King (Luke 9:2, 6, 60). While at times we may, like Paul, reason with those with whom we speak, we are first and foremost called to proclaim the glorious beauty of the Gospel of Christ to a world in darkness. Truly, the world is in bondage to sin and death, but Christ has come! He fulfilled the law as we could not! He has died on our behalf! And He has risen from the dead and is alive! Therefore, let us live our lives and proclaim His truth not as those in weakness or defeat, but as those led around in triumph in Christ! (2 Cor 2:14)
- With thanksgiving to God for setting us free!
- That the Spirit will empower us to serve God and one another in love.
- That we will proclaim the glorious freedom of the Gospel of Christ Jesus to those in bondage to sin and death around us, and that the Spirit will work in their hearts to bring them to saving faith in Jesus.