Sunday February 3
See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. 2 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?
For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; 3 he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness. 4 Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.
14 Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, he
himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy
the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and
free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death. 16 For
it is clear that he did not come to help angels, but the descendants of
Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to become like his brothers and
sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high
priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of
the people. 18 Because he himself was tested by what he
suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.
When we hear the word “emancipation”most of us think about the“Emancipation Proclamation” signed by President Abraham Lincoln in January 1, 1863 which provided legal freedom from slavery to African Americans in the United States. However, emancipation is a word with several meanings. It can refer to the process of giving people social or political freedom and rights; as in the case above. It can refer to the act of allowing a minor to take on adult responsibilities and freedoms, usually due to a unique set of circumstances. It can also refer to the act of freeing a person from another person’s control; the definition which applies to us this week.
Though we are born innocent of sins of our own, each of us was born in a fallen state due to the curse of original sin. We were born in a yet to be redeemed broken world. We also have been a slave to sin and as a citizen of the world, ruled either directly or indirectly by Satan. This also makes us a slave to death, which is the wages of sin. This is a terrible state in which to be found and live.
It is for this reason Jesus was born. He came to teach and show the world a better way. He died to pay for the sins of those who would walk in that way. His death and subsequent Resurrection was and still is our “Emancipation Proclamation” releasing us from the rule of Satan and sin. Though we can still sin, for those saved by the grace of God, it is no longer our natural state. The mark of Original Sin has been erased, as has our pre-salvation self-applied sin mark. We have been made free by the grace of God and the blood of Christ.
However, for many of us, it is hard to live into that freedom. In our Communion liturgy, we thank God that we have been freed for “Joyful Obedience” which may seem too many of us as an oxymoron. How can we be both free and fully obedient? We are at the same time free children of God and servants to the Gospel. This is only possible because of the power of Jesus’ love and His great sacrifice. Jesus tells us that His yoke and His burden for us are light.
Anyone who has ever bore the burden of guilt, shame, and various other issues related to sin, know how heavy they can be. Being a slave to sin breaks us down and destroys our self-esteem and our relationships. It makes us less than we are.
This is where the real difference between slave and servant come into focus. Slaves to sin are owned and are therefore not paid for their labors; their only reward is death. Whereas, servants of the Gospel are given compensation for their labors and rewarded in many ways, both in this life and the next.
The gift of emancipation is a wonderful gift given freely to us, paid for by the blood of Christ. It is nothing we can earn, purchase, or barter for. It can only come from one greater than us; one who has the power to defeat the old forces of sin and evil. Original Sin could only have been defeated by one older that itself. This means only the LORD could provide an adequate solution to the problem of sin and death. In doing so, He provided us with emancipation from that which seeks to destroy us, evil, sin, and our own human frailty.