The Light of Freedom
To free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness. (Isaiah 42:7)
They were confused. They blinked at the light streaming in. They stared at their rescuers in disbelief. The Allied troops stared back in similar disbelief. The captives in Nazi concentration camps that were still alive had given up hope of rescue. Those who rescued them never expected to see such a demonstration of evil.
The Lord God is clear in his description of the depravity of humankind. We tend to filter that sight through our lens of self-righteousness. It is hard for us to believe that humanity is as worthless, dangerous, and evil as the Bible makes us out to be. We prefer to look the other way when evil shows its face. We minimize and excuse its presence in our life. We tend to think that we are basically good, and need only some touchups to make us acceptable to the Holy One.
That would have us believing a lie—not unlike the lie that the concentration camp prisoners were heading for a shower, when it would be poison that sprayed from the showerhead.
The Son of God arrived on earth under no such illusion. The entire planet was a death camp, and he knew it. Words written 700 years before his birth contained his marching orders. “To free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.”
Jesus quoted these words in the sermon to his hometown congregation in Nazareth. He knew exactly why he was here, and what he was to do. He knew that an evil force was holding every human captive; keeping them from seeing the light of God’s goodness; and preparing them for a death that would never end.
We would have expected that the news of rescue would have been greeted with shouts of joy by the people he grew up with. Instead, it was met with unbelief. Furious, they drove him out of town and tried to throw him over a cliff. Unnerved, he simply walked through the crowd and went on his way. (Luke 4:28-30)
Saint John wrote, “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him (John 1:11). They chose darkness over light, and death over life.
This same Jesus comes to people today to free them from spiritual darkness and death. Some laugh at him. Some try to run from him. And some, like us, welcome him with relief and joy.
The credit must go to the Holy Spirit who changed our hearts to accept him.
But there is more. Like Jesus, we too have marching orders. We are to tell those who had been fellow prisoners in darkness that Jesus is no threat. Jesus brings life.
Jesus brings the Light of Freedom.
Lord Jesus, we keep forgetting just how deadly sin is, and how hopeless we would be without you. Enable us to see through the camouflage of evil. Keep us free from its grip. Let us live in the freedom you have brought us.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain
and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida
Provided by WELS Ministry to the Military