May your unfailing love come to me, O LORD,
your salvation according to your promise;
then I will answer the one who taunts me,
for I trust in your word.
Do not snatch the word of truth from my mouth,
for I have put my hope in your laws.
I will always obey your law,
for ever and ever.
I will walk about in freedom,
for I have sought out your precepts.
I will speak of your statutes before kings
and will not be put to shame,
for I delight in your commands
because I love them.
I lift up my hands to your commands, which I love,
and I meditate on your decrees.
(Psalm 119: 41-48, New International Version)
It is a sincere hope of mine that heaven has a DVD library. I don’t mean that I want to spend eternity watching King of the Hill or Seinfeld. What I want to see is history. I want to see the look on the guards’ faces when they awoke to an empty tomb. I would like to watch Elijah’s rise to the sky in the fiery chariot. It would be just awesome (in the true sense of the word) to sit in an IMAX screening of the moments in the field before, during, and after the appearance of the angels to the shepherds.
There is another moment that would be fascinating to me. It was what people expected, one would imagine, to be a typical Sabbath day’s visit to the Synagogue. However, it turned out to be anything but typical. That day a hometown boy become grassroots-on-fire preacher was to read from the scroll, and this day’s reading would be from Isaiah 61 — The Providence of God at work, it would seem. He arose at the time appointed by long-held tradition and reverently read these words:
- “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19, NIV)
The words are beautiful (even more so if you continue on a few verses, as included following this article). They give hope, light, freedom. After reading, Jesus of Nazareth rolled up the scroll and sat down. As he did, people quietly reflected on the passage, as we do in churches to this day after a passage is read, before anything else is said or sung. Reflection is good for the soul. Then a voice broke that silent reflection, the voice of the reader. Jesus said, sitting now among the crowd of worshippers, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Hear that again — “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” And that’s what I want to see and hear. I want to hear the conviction in his voice. I want to see the expression on his face, and on their faces. How silent was there reaction? The account in Luke 4 says they were impressed, but I wonder if they grasped the import of his statement. “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Jesus the Messiah was sent by the Father Creator into the world to bring a freedom only godly love can declare. To the poor and oppressed he brings justice, to the blind he brings sight, and to a sin-soaked humanity the greatest freedom of all — to walk in the peace of forgiveness. He preached, and through the church and the scriptures continues to preach the message that through him we can finally be free from sin and death and even the grave itself. These words, spoken humbly one Sabbath in a small town synagogue ring out still with all the power of God behind them. There is freedom in Christ! The psalmist knew there was freedom in listening to and obeying the Word of God. He said, “I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts.” What truth! When we turn our lives over to Christ and follow his teachings, we do not find yet another burdensome, heavy yoke, but truths about life on this rotating dirt clod that bring us to the freedom and peace of God.
With similar thoughts in mind the psalmist said, “I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts.” Just to break this down a bit, here are a few freedoms that come when you obey Christ and his teaching:
- If you love your neighbor, you are free from hatred and its attending consequences: bitterness, strife, anger, fighting, murder, theft, lying, et al.
- If you are faithful to your spouse, you are free from: adultery, a constant fear of STDs, divorce, alimony, and probably most of the things in the list on the first point.
- If you are free from greed, you get back all kinds of time for your family, lower debt, fewer ulcers, better heart health, and more.
Now, I’m not going all “infomercial” on you. This is the truth, and the psalmist hundreds of years ago knew this. There is freedom in listening to and following through on the precepts and principles of God’s Word. No Constitution, no president, no congress can bring what Jesus has. Today is the day of freedom, and God’s Word will lead us to the Freedom Maker — Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.”
(Isaiah 61:1-4, NIV)
To God be the glory.