As you read this we have just celebrated another 4th of July. Fireworks! Parades! Barbecue grills and family get-togethers! All in remembrance of, well, of exactly what?
Hopefully every American understands the meaning of the 4th of July. It is the remembrance of our Declaration of Independence 241 years ago when on the 4th of July, 1776, the Continental Congress in Philadelphia voted unanimously to be free from their colonial status as part of the British Empire and declared our status as a new nation. The members of the original 13 states were now free from the bondage of increasing taxation and servitude to England. And today, almost two-and-a-half centuries later, we still remember and celebrate that freedom.
In the Gospel according to John, Jesus spoke of another kind of freedom, a different kind of freedom – a freedom not from political, or social, or economic bondage – but something infinitely more important.
In response to His growing critics Jesus told them that if they listened to and believed in Him that they would be set free.
“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can You say that we shall be set free?”
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:31-33)
The critics of Jesus back then did not understand what He was telling them. They replied that they were not slaves, and had never been slaves. Actually, that was not true for Israel had been enslaved for more than 400 years in Egypt and again for 70 years in Babylon. And even at the time of Jesus they were conquered and subjugated by the Romans. But Jesus was not talking about political freedoms.
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:34-36)
And just as the vast majority in Jesus’ day did not understand or believe, so too today. The greatest bondage of all, the greatest imprisonment, the greatest chains of all have nothing to do with this world. They have nothing to do with which nation(s) control what other nations or people. The greatest enslavement of all has nothing to do with economic or social or political captivity. Rather, our greatest bondage has always been to sin – and to our great enemy Satan who came to “steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10). But, Jesus continued, that He would set us free from those chains of sin and the yoke of depression they bring. Instead, Jesus declared: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)
Concordia Lutheran High School exists for one reason, and for one reason alone. We exist to share the message of salvation and freedom that Jesus brought us – through His death and resurrection – throughout every day, in multitudes of ways, not only in our theology classes.
CLHS exists to share His love with a world that has so many different, inaccurate and false ideas of what true love is. We exist to build on the foundation of what the parents of our students bring from their homes and from their churches – all working together to give these young men and women the best possible foundation for their lives, both now and down the road as they move on to all that God is calling them to experience and accomplish.
America’s founding fathers brought us the ability to be a free and independent nation and people. But on the 4th of July we should, as God’s people, remember that even greater freedom that Jesus purchased for us on the old rugged cross. Free at last! Thank You Jesus!
Rev. Dr. Joseph P. Gudel,
Director of Campus Ministries