By Stuart Powell
In the late 18th century, a colonist began writing a manuscript that summarized the political unrest of his time. He produced a startling declaration read aloud in a political hall in Philadelphia:
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
Thomas Jefferson’s words expressed the overwhelming desire of the Colonial citizens: political freedom for those oppressed by England. Today, more than two centuries separate us from those discussions that summer of 1776. It is important that U.S. citizens ponder those words to remember the origins of this nation—a declaration for freedom for the politically bound. Every year, early in July, Americans remember the Declaration of Independence and the war that led to our political freedom.
In the late first century of the Christian age, a physician began writing a manuscript that summarized the ministry of Jesus. Luke recorded a startling declaration that Jesus spoke in a Jewish synagogue in the obscure town of Nazareth:
Now Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and the regaining of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to tell them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled even as you heard it being read” (Luke 4:16-21, New English Translation).
Luke’s document expressed the overwhelming desire of every person since the fall in the Garden: freedom for those oppressed by sin.
Today, nearly two millennia separate us from the events recorded in Luke’s Gospel. So, it is important for Christians to ponder those first-century words to remember the origins of our faith—the declaration of freedom for every person bound by sin. Jesus gave us an expression of worship to help us remember his declaration of independence and his war that led to our spiritual freedom. As you partake of the bread, remember the body of Jesus, crucified for your freedom. As you drink of the cup, remember the blood of Jesus, poured out for your eternal liberty.
Stuart Powell lives outside of Terre Haute, Indiana, where he serves with the North Side Christian Church.