Summary: Sermon is about freedom in Christ. Freedom from sin and death.
“Let Freedom Reign”
At the University of Oklahoma, for many years a project was underway to teach a 15 year old chimpanzee named Washoe to talk by combining sign language with simple recognition. Over the years, the chimp learned 140 different signs.
Finally, the project directors decided that it was time for Washoe to “conceptualize,” meaning that instead of merely imitating human words, she would express thoughts on her on. Now, understand that Washoe was a pampered animal in the university’s laboratory. She was well fed, physically comfortable, and safe from harm. And yet, when she was able to put words together to make a phrase on her own, the first three – which she has used repeatedly – were, “Let me out!”
That which is born free, both desires and deserves to be free! While I enjoy visiting the zoo, and seeing all the many different animals, it troubles me to see some of them caged. The lioness, or the giraffe, or the gazelle….should be free to run across the wide expanses of jungle or wilderness. And even though it may be best for them to be held in captivity, as in the case of their own preservation, they, nonetheless, desire and deserve to be free!
Man, who also desires to be fully free was not born in freedom…but, according to the authority of God’s Word, was born into spiritual slavery and bondage….that is, in bondage to sin. The scripture, speaking of the liberating work of the Lord Jesus Christ, clearly tells us in Hebrews 2:14-15:
“Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the devil;
And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”
Have you ever thought of yourself in terms of being a slave, or, in terms of being in bondage? Probably not….yet, the scriptures declare that every man and woman outside of a relationship with God, through faith in Jesus Christ, is exactly that. Man, by his very fall into sin through disobedience to God took on a sin nature…and that nature was passed on to us. We did not ask for it….it just came with being human. It was our inheritance, one might say…..and we have had to deal with it from day one. It was for this very reason, and because of our helplessness and hopelessness to do anything about it that Jesus Christ came into the world that He might deliver us…..that He might set the captives free.
This morning, as we think of liberty and freedom, we do so not in the sense of a nation declaring its freedom and independence from an earthly king….but from the soul of man being liberated and set free from the bondage of sin, and death, and hell.
In our text, we find Jesus in His home town of Nazareth. It is the sabbath day, and , as was His custom, Jesus is in the synagogue. Being asked to read from the scriptures, Jesus found in the book of Esias, where it was written: “the Spirit of the Lord is upon Me.” Though the eyes of all the people were upon Him in astonishment, the disciples knew what He had said to be true because they had seen the visible evidence of the Holy Spirit rest upon Jesus at His baptism in the River Jordan. Though they did not yet understand all there was to know about Jesus’ mission and purpose, they did believe that He was sent from God. With this limited understanding looming over them, Jesus explains the purpose for His Incarnation. In verse 18 He said: “He (meaning the Father) has sent Me to preach deliverance to the captives…and to set the captives at liberty.”