Text: “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).
Story: “Bought to be Freed”
A young girl who had one black parent and one white parent was being sold at an auction one day. She was a beautiful girl, tall and slender. The bidding was keen, and quickly mounted higher and higher until at last only two men were left bidding for her ownership: the one a low, uncivilized and bad-mannered fellow who swearing raised his bid every time to outbid the other, a quiet man of refinement.
Finally the bidding stopped, and to the gentleman who had bid so very earnestly was given the papers which made him the lawful owner of the young girl.
With a shove the auctioneer presented her to her new master. Proudly, defiantly, she stood before him, hating him with every part of her being; suddenly, a change came over her face: first there was a look of pure amazement closely followed by one of utter astonishment and disbelief.
Her owner was ripping up the papers of ownership, and, with a smile of kindness, said to the now trembling girl, “My dear, you are free. I bought you that I might free you.”
Too stunned for speech, the girl merely stared till finally, with a cry of happiness too deep for words, she cast herself at the man’s feet, and through her tears exclaimed, “Oh, master, I’ll love you and serve you for life!”
What the papers of ownership could not do, the man’s kindness had won completely. The Lord Jesus has loved you and has paid such a price that He might buy you from the slavery of Satan and free you. Will you now tell Him, “Master, I’ll love Thee and serve Thee for life?”
-------Evangelical International High School Quarterly
Did you ever really think what Jesus did for you? Is the story of the Passion and the Crucifixion just words to you? Do you know without a shadow of doubt the real impact Jesus could have on your life?
I believe that a true Christian and follower of Jesus has some understanding of what Jesus’ mission on earth entailed or involved. Every years Christians celebrate the Passion and remember the Crucifixion. Programs are set up and performances take place to illustrate the meaning of the Easter Season.
There are some people, and I would like to say non-Christians, who give little or no consideration to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. To these people this is a story that sounds as good as any story.
They have no understanding of why God sent His Son into the world. In fact, there are many who do not even believe the story. They do not believe because they have no faith in Almighty God.
If they do not believe by faith, then the story is like a fairy tale to them. If they don’t believe by faith that the Word of God is true and infallible, the Passion and the Crucifixion is just a make-believe story. Without believing in Jesus, there is no impact of His mission on their lives.
These are people who are in bondage and do not realize that they are. These are people who are living in slavery and are not aware that they are slaves. These are people who think they are in control of their life, but in reality, Satan is in control.
God’s Word says, “Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling” (Acts 16:16). Paul and Silas were followers of Jesus who went about proclaiming and preaching the gospel message. They were telling people about how they could be set free from bondage and live a life acceptable to the Lord.
As Paul and Silas were on their way to a prayer meeting, a young girl who was possessed by an evil spirit met them. Scripture tells us the young girl was a slave girl which indicates she was owned by someone. This girl had a human master she answered to, but in addition, she had another master named Satan.
One of Satan’s evil spirits had taken up residence in the inner-most part of this girl. Her earthly master used her to make much money for him by fortune-telling. This type of predicting events of the future was very common in the Greek and Roman culture of the time. The girl’s power or ability for telling the future was provided by the evil spirit that resided within her.
This young girl was in bondage and did not know it. She considered it a way of life. This very thing happens to people today. There are alcoholics who do not realize they are in bondage. There are people taking various drugs, legal and illegal who become slaves to those drugs and fail to see that they have lost their freedom.
Some people become addicted to eating much more than they need. An evil spirit has infiltrated their mind tempting them to eat until their heart is content. The problem is that the heart can only handle so much abuse and then something has to happen.
These people are in bondage. They are slaves to drinks, drugs, or foods. It becomes a way of life just like the fortune-telling did for the young girl. Satan likes one to be in bondage to sin because now the person is on his turf.
The young slave girl would not let Paul and Silas get away from her. In fact, she couldn’t help herself because she was not in control of her actions, but the evil spirit had taken control of her inner being. She followed them around shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God” and they are telling you the way to be saved” (v. 17).
Look for just a moment at what the girl shouted. She said Paul and Silas were preachers or servants of God and their message would lead them to salvation which is freedom from their sins and a right relationship with Almighty God.
Was she telling something that was not true? No! What she said was true, but the problem was that her source of information came from an evil spirit. Her words were demon possessed. At first glance one might not think anything is wrong with the source of information.
The evil spirit’s plan or Satan’s plan was to get people to believe the Gospel of Jesus involved association with demon movements. Paul knew that if that happened, the Gospel message would become meaningless to people whose ears it reached.
Paul put up with this nonsense and harassment as long as he could and then said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her” (v. 18). Paul was ministering in the name of Jesus under the power of the Holy Spirit which enabled him to call the evil spirit out of the girl. As soon as Paul made the call; “At that moment the spirit left her” (18).
The girl who did not know she was in bondage was set free by the release of the evil spirit. Scripture does not tell us the feelings of the girl after she was liberated from the spirit, but I would guess she felt different. She did realize that she could no longer tell the future as she once did for her master or her owners.
The girl would no longer be able to make money for her owners. You might tend to feel sorry for the girl wondering what she would do to earn her keep. We don’t know for sure, but let’s believe that she too was saved from her life of destruction by believing in the Lord.
“When the owners of the slave girl realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities”. (v. 19) The slave girl was their means of income. She was being used like some kind of tool just as the prostitutes of this day are used to make money for men engaged in the illegal practice of prostitution.
Her owners had to get Paul and Silas off the street and they did this by having them arrested for causing an uproar in the city. This, of course, was a false accusation. They told the magistrates or judges, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice” (v. 21).
The real truth was that the things being said were all false. People were not getting upset of what Paul and Silas were preaching, but the owners were determined to get the crowd to side with them. This very thing happens today.
If a couple of people make enough noise long enough, other people who may not even know what the issue is will jump on the “bandwagon”. People do not always wait to hear the real story or listen to both sides. You could say these people lose control of their thinking mind and let one of Satan’s evil spirits take up residence and control them.
They are now not free as they were before, but they are in bondage and do not realize what just took place. The excitement of wanting to be a part of something causes them to become slaves.
This does not have to happen if God is in control of their life and if He is consulted before any decisions are made. There are two spirits trying to claim residence within in each person; one is the Spirit of God and the other is the evil spirit of Satan.
Some people believe everything and every thought that comes their way. They forget that Satan is worldly and God is heavenly. Scripture says, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).
The false prophet, Satan, will make some thing or some idea look very appetizing and if not tested will cause a person to become a slave to that sin. On the other hand, “Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God” (1 John 4:2). The spirit of Antichrist will not confess Jesus Christ as God in the flesh.
Christians are children of God and have overcome the evil spirits because “He who is in you is greater that he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). Satan’s evil spirits are very strong, but God tells us with certainty that His Spirit within us is much stronger.
“The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten” (v. 22). I can just see the smile on the devil’s face as Paul and Silas were taken into custody. What do you think was on their mind?
I believe these two men of God were not a bit concerned as far as their safety and well-being was concerned. They knew their worldly freedom was being taken from them and they were prisoners, but they also knew their maker would take care of them because He was Almighty God.
They were not going through this ordeal alone because they knew and believed His word which says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). Thus, they were assured of His presence and His guarantee or promise that He would provide for their needs. Paul was reminded of these words: “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
“After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks” (v. 23, 24).
To be placed in prison would be bad enough, but to be beaten or flogged with rods would be enough to cause one to lose hope, which is what the devil likes. Paul and Silas did not lose hope, but instead they prayed and praised God. They could do this because the power of the Spirit of God is the strongest power possible.
“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them” (v. 25). How can we relate this to our own life? What are these words telling us? I believe these words are telling us that regardless of how bad things become, God is still to be praised. No matter what prison we find ourselves in, God is ready and willing to help us because He is still in control.
When we praise Him, sing hymns to Him, and live our life according to His words in red, other people will pay attention just as the other prisoners paid attention to Paul and Silas. This might have been new to the other prisoners and they most likely did not understand what was about to happen, but Paul and Silas knew God would work a mighty miracle of some kind.
What happened as they were singing and praising God? “Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken” (v. 26). Earthquakes had probably happened before, but this one was different in every aspect.
The foundations of the prison were not only shaken, but “…prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose” (v. 26). The chains that held the stocks together came loose from the prisoner’s ankles and wrists.
How could this happen? What was the meaning? What else was about to take place? Would the prisoners dash out when they realized what had happened?
This happened because of the might power of Almighty God who was looking after His children. I believe Paul and Silas were not surprised, because they knew the power of God. It was an eye-opener for the other prisoners and the jailer because it appears they did not know Jesus.
This event was unbelievable in their eyes and in their mind. They more likely thought it was a dream instead of a reality.
The prisoners could have escaped, but for some reason they did not leave their cells. They were free to go, but this was not part of God’s plan. Paul and Silas were vessels carrying out the mission of spreading and living the Word of God. God works in mysterious ways.
“The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped” (v. 27).
The jailer was about to kill himself because he thought he had failed in his duty by letting the prisoners escape. He knew that when this happened to a jailer, the jailer’s punishment was death, so he was going to do it to himself.
Not a single prisoner left their cell. Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!” (v. 28) People who do not have the Holy Spirit residing in their heart are likely to do as the jailer was about to do, and that was to commit suicide.
Everyday we read in the paper or hear on the news about people committing suicide because the situation or situations they are facing seem to be impossible to conquer. This is true if they are trying to do it on their own, but “…with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
People who do not know Jesus as personal Lord and Savior will find life difficult. Mole hills will look like mountains. A small stream will look like a mighty river. The shining sun will look like a dark cloud. Paul and Silas knew Jesus and they placed their faith and trust in the Father. They were not alarmed. They knew this was God carrying out a plan that would bring praise, honor, and glory to Him.
God was in the process of reaching out to the men who were in the real world prison, but He was also reaching out to the jailer and his family who were in prison, but did not know it. “The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’” (v. 29)
The Holy Spirit had spoken to the jailer and he realized there was something Paul and Silas had that he lacked; therefore, he asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” People are asking the same question today.
The answer Paul and Silas gave the jailer and the other prisoners is the same for us today. Paul and Silas said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved…” (v.31). Jesus is the only One who can release a person from whatever prison they are in.
He is the only One who can free the person addicted to alcohol or drugs. He is the only One who can free the person of their nicotine prison. He is the only One who can release the shackles from an individual living a life contrary to His Word He is the only One who can give freedom to the prostitute and help her become one of His disciples.
Our freedom comes from knowing the Lord Jesus as our personal Savior. Jesus is the only one who can give us everlasting freedom.
God’s word says, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1).