The past couple of weeks we have heard much about freedom. This week the world recognized the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Our country also remembered the veterans who fought on her behalf, providing protection and freedom for all her citizens.
And last week we watched in horror the images of grieving families whose loved ones had their freedom taken away — by a gunman at Fort Hood.
All three of these images served, among other things, to remind us of the precious value of freedom.
Our country has been built on “Freedom events.” A Boston Tea Party. The first amendment. Civil War. Emancipation Proclamation. “Remember the Alamo.” Pearl Harbor. D-Day. Vietnam.
But the Christian life is built around a single freedom event — the Cross. Aside from the afternoon being midnight black, for many it was an ordinary day. For some it has become the extra-ordinary day. God on the cross. “Today you will be with me in paradise.” Loneliness. Sin. A last breath. Death. Willing, will-full death. Resurrection. Don’t forget the resurrection.
The cross without the resurrection would have been failure. The cross with the resurrection is confident expectation (a.k.a. hope). Victory. Freedom.
“For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death,” Paul says, “certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin” (Rom. 6:5-7). Century after century it has been proven that man’s death provides only bondage. The only death that provides freedom is Christ’s death.
And as with all freedom, Christ’s freedom came with an expensive price tag. “And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ which is translated, ‘My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?’” (Mk. 15:34). The blackness of that lonely hour we will never know. The emptiness will remain a mystery to us. The horror will be eternally contained supremely in the mind of God. But we will forever be recipients of Christ’s conquest.
By His obedience to the cross we are freed from both the penalty of sin and the power of sin. This freedom is without cost to those who receive it — it is a gracious gift, liberally and freely given to them by God. But our release from all the tyrannical implications of sin come at the expense of Christ’s death.
And just as our world recognizes year-by-year and decade by decade significant events that mark the temporary freedoms of man, so believers recognize week by week in their regular worship the great gift of freedom accomplished by the cross of Christ.