If Christ Makes Us Free!
I think it is true to say that many of us who live in this great land of America do not fully appreciate the freedom which is ours. We have the right to elect our own leaders, to choose our own form of work, to freely express our opinions, to worship the God of our choice in the manner we please. These and so many other rights are ours simply because we live in this land, by birth or by choice. This is the freest land on the face of this earth. Did you ever stop to think about the fact that in all of the other nations of the world, the people who live there live under some form of a controlled society to one degree or another? That is true. That is not the case in this land, for, here in America, we live in the freest land on the face of this earth.
But I think it’s also true to say that there are many of us as Christians who do not fully appreciate the greatest freedom anyone can ever know, the freedom which Jesus gives. Jesus said, “If the Son makes you free, then you shall be free indeed.”
Now, I want to suggest to you today that if we better understood the freedom which Jesus gives, then we would more deeply appreciate the freedom which this nation gives. And to make that point, I want us to look together for just a few moments at this great word from the lips of our Lord. “If the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”
I think Jesus meant, first of all, that he would make us free from guilt from our past.
Now, all of us, absolutely without exception, all of us have something in the past for which we are ashamed, something we regret, something we wish to God we’d never done but did, something which haunts us with guilt way down deep in the secret places of our soul, and that guilt, ultimately, will destroy us. That’s why it’s so important for us to know the word of the Lord Jesus Christ as He says, “My blood poured out cleanses all sin.” That means that the things which are wrong in your past or in mine, those things, as far as God is concerned, are buried as deep as the deepest sea. They are separated from us as far as the east is from the west.
Guilt is blotted out for all of those who seek forgiveness through God in Jesus Christ. That’s a fact. And that applies to us personally. But I also want to suggest to you that that applies to us nationally. It was Winthrop Hudson who wrote some time ago, “Confessing sin rather than claiming righteousness, pointing to our iniquities rather than always and only pointing to the iniquity of some enemy may seem to be a strange way to claim divine aid and build a great nation. But as strange as that may seem to us,” Hudson wrote, “history has proved that it did not seem strange at all to those who founded this nation.” And that’s true.
I want to tell you something which I believe to be true. The founding fathers of America would never ever have subscribed to the dictum, “My country, right or wrong.” They never would have accepted that. My country, right? Yes. But if my country is wrong, I shall acknowledge that wrong and seek to correct it. So we are to love America, yes. And when America is right, we are to love it profoundly, yes. But when America is wrong, we are delighted still, but we are to acknowledge that wrong and seek to correct it.
I love this nation. I love it with my very life. It is the grandest, freest nation on the face of this earth. But it is not perfect, not by a long shot. And when I make my way through life and see the massive cheating occurring at our colleges and universities, or when I encounter X-rated pornography on sale at a supermarket along with the eggs and bacon, or when I encounter that deceit, which seems to be so much a part of our society, in the world of politics or the world of business or, even God forbid, in the world of religion, when I hear the anguished cries of those men and women and children who have never yet been granted a full share in the great American dream, when I encounter false advertising or exaggerated claims through the radio or the television or the newspapers, when I realize that abortion on demand is robbing us of literally millions of lives, which each year adoption could save, when I realize these things and know that these things are a part of the great American society, then I think it’s high time for us to remember the great word of the Lord, “If My people who are called by My name shall humble themselves and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear their prayer, and I will forgive their sin, and I will heal their land.”
That’s a part of what Jesus meant when He said, “If the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” He makes us free from guilt for our past. And that applies to us personally, yes, but it also applies to us nationally as well.
But then, secondly, I think Jesus means that He makes us free from fear about the future.
God says to us in Christ what God said to Jeremiah. Do you remember? God said to Jeremiah, “I will make you a strong fortress with pillars of iron and walls of bronze. And though others may fight against you, they will not prevail against you for I am with you to deliver you,” saith the Lord of hosts. And thus saith the Lord of hosts to us. That’s the good news of the gospel for your life and for mine, that by the power of Jesus Christ, we are made strong fortresses with pillars of iron and walls of bronze. And the evil in the world may fight against us, but it will not prevail for God in Christ is with us to deliver us. We have no need to fear anything in the future no matter how troubling it may be. That’s the great Gospel truth for us personally, but that’s also the Gospel truth for us nationally.
You see, if we put our trust in the power of Almighty God, then He will make us strong fortresses. Do you hear that? I want to say to you right now that we, in America, have made a mistake in our time. We have put our faith in military power or in political power or in economic power. And that is a change from the days of the past. For in the past in the nation of which we are a part, people put their faith and their trust first in the power of God, not in those other forms of power, and as a result of that, God served to protect. So when I pray, as I regularly do in my own prayers, when I pray, “God bless America in the years ahead,” I am not advocating some kind of a narrow nationalism, and I am not suggesting that America somehow stands in a relationship to God, which is unique among the nations of the earth. I’m not suggesting that at all. But the fact is, that every nation on earth is accountable to God, and every nation on earth can know God’s blessing and God’s power if the people seek it. I do not know what the future holds for America, but I know this, that just as God has used America in the past to help accomplish His purposes in the world, so God will use America in the future as long as we seek His blessing and try to do His will.
What I’m saying to you is simply this: that the secret of America’s security, the secret of America’s power is trust in Almighty God. You don’t believe that? Well, do you think it’s an accident that for lo these many years of history in our nation that no invading force has ever pierced our shores? Don’t tell me it’s because we are militarily strong because in fact, throughout our history, there have been times when we have been militarily very weak. I point for example to the days just prior to the Second World War when we were terribly vulnerable to attack from east or west. I submit to you that it is the power of God which has restrained our enemies. And it is because in the past, we trusted in that power. We trusted it in the past. The question is do we trust it still? For if we trust in the power of God, then He will restrain our enemies. That’s a part of what Jesus meant when He said, “If the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” He makes us free from fear about the future. That applies to us personally, but that also applies to us nationally.
And then thirdly, I think Jesus means that He makes us free from worry in the present.
Dr. Joseph Sizoo, one of America’s great preachers, tells this story. One day, a Holland-America steamship sailed into the harbor of New York City. That ship was loaded with immigrants coming to this country. As the ship moved slowly past the Statue of Liberty, the immigrants on board suddenly rushed to the side of that vessel to catch a glimpse of that magnificent lady with her torch held high in welcome. It was a moving moment for them all. Some of them immediately began to sing, and others began to weep with joy. And still others began to pray out loud prayers of great thanksgiving. They were moved to the depths of their being by the fact that the American people had set that marvelous lady right in that spot to say to those immigrants, “We are glad that you have come to this land to help us to build a better world.” On board that ship, there was a little Dutch Boy. He was standing right next to his father at the rail, watching the Statue of Liberty. And suddenly, the little boy said, “Father, do you know anybody in America?” And the father said, “No, son, I don’t know anybody.” And the little boy said, “Well, do you have a job to go to in America?” And the father said, “No, son, I don’t have a job.” There was a pause. And then the little boy said, “Father, how much money do you have?” And the father said, “I have $450.” There was a longer pause. And with worry and anxiety choking his voice, the little boy said, “Then father, what’s going to happen if you can’t get a job before the money runs out?” And in that moment, the father put one arm about the boy’s shoulder, and with the other, he pointed to the Statue of Liberty, and he said, “Son, I want you right now to remember something and never forget it. You see that lady? She is a reminder that this is America. This is the place where a boy could be born in a log cabin with a dirt floor and a single window, and the boy could go on to become the president of the United States. This is America. This is the place where if one has faith in God and if one isn’t afraid to work, he’ll get along. And so I want you to remember that, my son. This is America. We will get along because God will care for us.”
Dr. Joseph Sizoo then adds these words, “That was my father talking, and I was that little boy. And in that moment, I realized for the first time and have never forgotten that God was guiding my life every hour of every day. And in that moment, I realized and have never forgotten that this great, grand free land would be the place where I would serve God until the day I die.”
Jesus said, “If the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”
The table which is set before you is the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. And at least a part of the meaning of that sacrament is that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, makes us free. His body is broken, and His blood is poured out to make us free, free from guilt for the past, free from fear about the future, and free from worry in the present. So come to this table, my beloved people, partake of the bread and of the cup. And you, yes, every single one of you, you shall be free indeed.
Let us pray. Most merciful and gracious God, let Your Son Jesus Christ make us free, for then, we shall be free indeed. Amen.