“Jesus Offers Freedom”
Welcome to “Key to the Kingdom.” My name is Bret McCasland. The world is full of people who offer significant quotes about various topics. Many of those quotes are rather lighthearted and not remembered for very long. Others, however, are worth considering and may in fact impact our lives in a significant way. One of the more familiar subjects about which people have something to say is freedom. Nations exists because of the freedom people pursue and maintain. Just the opposite is true as well. People look to be set free from anything that keeps them in some sort of captivity or bondage. No matter what kind of freedom we talk about, it is not cheap. Freedom always costs somebody something. In our lesson today, on “Key to the Kingdom,” we will talk about freedom from a biblical standpoint. Our focus will be on what Jesus had to say about freedom and the difference it makes in our spiritual lives. As we look at several passages of Scripture, I hope you'll remember one important thing; it, too, cost somebody something. It cost the Son of God His very life. He died on the cross so we could receive His free gift of eternal life. Jesus did that so we could be set free from sin and Satan and no longer be separated from God. And that freedom allows us to live as His representative in this world. I encourage you now to open your heart and your Bible, as we study the lesson entitled “Jesus Offers Freedom.”
It really makes no difference where we live in this world, freedom is important to all of us. We appreciate the freedoms we do have, and hopefully we do not take them for granted. And yet, if we live where there is not any freedom then we long for the day when we can be set free. That freedom comes in various forms. There is freedom from persecution and freedom to live and to travel wherever we so desire. We long to be free from addictions or from anything which negatively affects our lives. Oh, there are many things and even people who keep us from living a life of freedom. Well, people also long for spiritual freedom. They want to be set free from a religious system that is restrictive, or that produces a heavy burden. People want to be free from a set of rules and regulations. Many long to embrace a life that allows them to enjoy all of the blessings and all of the benefits that come through being part of God's family. And whether we are talking about religion or politics or life in general, freedom is important to all of us. Well, we find another one of Jesus' most important statements; and, indeed, He has something to say about freedom. I want us to look at several Bible passages in that regard today, and we begin with a story about Jesus, which is found in Luke chapter 4, beginning with verse 16. <He went to Nazareth, where He had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day He went into the synagogue, as was His custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. Unrolling it, He found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free, 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 fastened on Him. He began by saying to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”> Those words were spoken early on in Jesus' ministry, and they fulfill the prophecy from Isaiah chapter 61. Isaiah spoke about and wrote about a time that was coming when One would begin to do the very things Jesus, Himself, was now doing. Oh, He fed those who were hungry. He healed those who were sick. He even raised people from the dead. He did things which produced freedom in people's lives. Well, instead of embracing that message, some of His friends refused to receive it. They saw Jesus as nothing more than the son of the local carpenter, and some even tried to throw Him off of a cliff after He was finished. And yet, Jesus said, “I am the Anointed One who has come from God. I am the long awaited Messiah, the One who represents My Father.” And that's exactly what Jesus did. He came to represent freedom. He came to deliver those who were held captive by sin or by Satan. He set free those who lived in that oppressive society, and He gave them hope for a better way of life. Jesus, after He had finished reading from Isaiah, said to the people, “Today, this passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” In other words, this is now a present reality. The time has come, through Me, to bring freedom to you. So, Jesus came to put back together the lives of those who had been crushed physically and emotionally. He mended broken hearts. He rescued those who were searching for meaning and for significance. Oh, in many ways Jesus offered freedom, and the people who received it were blessed by it. Their lives were changed, their spirits were lifted and they had the hope of a new beginning, as they received Jesus' offer of abundant life, and as they began to follow Him. Another gospel writer, named Matthew, records the words also of Isaiah, this time from Isaiah chapter 9, as he described the arrival and the beginning of Jesus' ministry. Let’s note his words, beginning in Matthew chapter 4 and verse 12. <When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He withdrew to Galilee. Leaving Nazareth, He went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali— to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah: “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles— the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”> With the arrival of Jesus, no longer would people need to sit in spiritual darkness, no longer would they be bound by the ways of the past, no longer would they be in the land of the shadow of death; because the light, represented by Jesus Christ, had now come. And that light, which He brought, the freedom which He represented, opened up people's eyes to new possibilities and to new hope and to an abundant living. In fact, Jesus even referred to that, Himself, in John 10 and verse 10: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Jesus offered that abundant and fulfilling life. During Jesus' ministry many people lived under Roman oppression. Their loyalty had to be to the emperor in Rome and to his local authorities. Oh, that was difficult. That was challenging. It was very painful, especially for those who were trying to follow Jesus Christ. And as a result of that, many of them were persecuted. Jobs were taken away. Some people even lost their lives. And yet, Jesus came to free them from that burden. He would be their new King, and in His kingdom there would be peace and joy and abundant life and freedom. Oh, it would not revolve around the powerful armies and rulers, like the Romans. Rather, it would be a spiritual kingdom that would bring much greater peace. One day Jesus had a conversation with some of His fellow Jews. In fact, these people believed in Jesus. And part of that conversation is found in John chapter 8, beginning with verse 31. <To the Jews who had believed in Him, Jesus said, “If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”> That statement is similar to the words Jesus read from Isaiah there in that Nazareth synagogue, which we looked at a moment ago. And the truth, to which Jesus was referring, was He was the Son of God. And that truth that He came to represent, that He came to share with the people, would indeed set them free. Oh, I love those powerful words there in verse 36, “If the Son sets you free, you are free, indeed.” There is no question. There is no doubt. You can now live a life of freedom. In one of Jesus' “I am” statements, found in John 14, verse 6, He said, “I am the way the truth and the life.” Yes, there was freedom in what Jesus had to offer. People could live a life of freedom if they held fast to the true words which Jesus spoke. And, no doubt, they were true because they came from His Father in heaven. You know, as Jesus spoke in the Nazareth synagogue, He said those words, “Today, this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” And for those who did believe in Jesus and who did believe that He was the truth and a representative of God, no doubt, those words must have been very enlightening. They were very freeing because people were ready to embrace that. When I think about it, I realize those words still ring true today. You know, today there are many things which blind us to the light of the Lord. Our eyes may be darkened. Our hearts might be hardened. We, too, might find ourselves sitting in spiritual darkness or in the land of the shadow of death, and life, sometimes, is just a little bit hard. We may feel overwhelmed by the pain and the problems of this world. We might be behind bars, literally. No matter how we might describe it, there are many ways to describe being held in captivity or in bondage. But today Jesus would say, those chains are broken and those burdens are lifted. Freedom is now available through Christ. Yes, that freedom provides a way through which one can be a part of God's family. It gives one access to all of the blessings and all of the promises God gives to His children. So, Jesus came to set us free from anything and from everything that does not honor Him. His freedom is the only real option to everything that keeps us from experiencing that abundant life. Oh, there are other statements Jesus had to say about the freedom He came to offer, and the freedom He came to represent, that comes from His Father. I want us to turn our attention now to a man by the name of the apostle Paul. He was one who experienced that freedom from Jesus Christ firsthand. We're familiar with that story, when he confronted the Lord there on the road to Damascus. Well, from that time on, Paul told other people about the freedom they too could receive in Jesus Christ. And these passages apply to us, still today. Notice what he wrote in Romans chapter 8, beginning with verse 1. <Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.> You know, the law of sin and death referred to the old law, which was a burden. People kept a series of laws and rules and regulations, which was not needed now under the new law, through which Jesus Christ brings freedom. Paul made the statement, “There is no condemnation for those of you who experienced that freedom in Him.” He continues on with another statement found in Galatians chapter 5 and verse 1. <It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.> Paul was writing to some believers who thought it was necessary to go back and keep the things of the old way, the old law. And Paul states don't do that. Jesus has set you free. Don't go back to that yoke of slavery again. It does you no good. Well, the question might come; what then does that freedom look like for us, today? There in that same chapter of Galatians 5, he addresses that, in verse 13. <You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. In Christ, we are now free to love others as Jesus has loved us. Free to live as Jesus showed us how to live.> The freedom we receive in Jesus does not entitle us to live any way we so desire. But rather, not only does Jesus set us free from sin and Satan, He sets us free to live in a certain way, to live for love and good works. We are free to live in a spirit of love and a spirit of humility. And that is exactly what we do when we recognize the magnitude of Jesus’ sacrifice, on our behalf. We will begin to love others as He has first loved us. And as we do that, we will demonstrate how much He means to us. We will demonstrate a transformed way of living. We are now living a free life in Christ. We put the past behind us and we now embrace a new beginning, and that is a life that, indeed, is full and abundant. Here is one more passage from the apostle Paul; 2nd Corinthians chapter 3, verse 17. <Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.> Yes, the freedom Jesus offers does not mean we will be free from all kinds of problems and difficulties in life. There will be times when we are going to be burdened down and oppressed, and you might be feeling that, even now. But that's just the way it is in the world in which we live. And yet, Jesus’ freedom means we are no longer slaves to those things. We are no longer slaves, or in bondage, to the guilt they bring. But His salvation, His freedom, removes that burden. Many other statements about the freedom one has in Jesus are found in Scripture, but they all basically do the same thing. They remind us that one of the greatest blessings available to those who belong to the Lord is that we are part of God's family, and in that family we are free to live out our salvation, that we have in Jesus Christ. I want to share with us one more passage of Scripture, a familiar one. It’s found in John chapter 3, verse 17. <For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.> God evidently knew we would experience all kinds of condemnation. We would have difficulties in this world. We would be condemned in various ways because of various things. And indeed, you might be experiencing that, even now. But yes, there are things, and people, which seem to place us under that cloud of condemnation. And in the midst of that, we might even wonder, “Well, where is my freedom? Why can't I get away from all of that?” Well, that's what Jesus came to remove. He came to remove that guilt and that burden. That allows us to no longer live under the curse of Satan or under the sting of death. And that is the good news, in regards to His freedom. In Jesus we find freedom from anything that keeps us from living an abundant life. And that's what we need, isn't it; an abundant and fulfilling life in Jesus Christ, a free life to go and live and serve humbly those whom God puts before us. And the second part of that good news is that we can experience that freedom, even today. Jesus made that possible with what He did upon the cross. In His death He removed the curse of sin and by His resurrection He provided a way for us to begin a life of freedom. Yes, Jesus took our sin, and the guilt of it, and He bore it on the cross on our behalf; and we don't have to deal with that any longer. We put that past behind us and we embrace the new life, the new hope and the new beginning that Jesus offered through His resurrection. I trust, today, you are experiencing the freedom God gives to you through His son, Jesus Christ, and you are enjoying that abundant and fulfilling life. I hope there is nothing preventing you from receiving what He has to offer. I hope today you will keep in mind some of the most important words Jesus ever spoke, found in John 8, verse 36: If the Son sets you free, you will be free, indeed!
Many of us live in a place where we enjoy a variety of freedoms and privileges. And yet sometimes, if we're not careful, we take them for granted. We might even go so far as to abuse some of those freedoms. We go against the laws of the land and we do things that are wrong. And as a result, we suffer the consequences. We end up in a prison cell or behind jail bars; and none of us want that. When we think about the words of Jesus from John 8 and verse 12, “If you are free, then you are free indeed, through Jesus Christ,” then we think about being free from living life behind prison bars. But Jesus means so much more. He means that we can have the freedom of the life that is full and abundant, which He came to offer to all of us. And we can enjoy a new beginning, a new hope and a new future. We can put all of that which entangled us, and which caused us to sin and to stray away from the Lord, behind us, and we can start over. And His grace and His love, His freedom, indeed, sets us free from the things of the past. When we think about the privileges and the freedoms we enjoy in our everyday life, let us not forget the freedom that we have in Jesus, and embrace that freedom and embrace the full life that He offers to us. Yes, let us know that Jesus came to set us free from anything that entangles us from living the life that He came to offer. I hope you are enjoying the freedom in Jesus Christ in your life, today.
Thank you for joining us for today's broadcast. It is good to be reminded of the freedom Jesus offers to all people, everywhere. Because of God's great love, we can be free in Christ and experience the spiritual blessings and promises that come from Him. This lesson is available on our website, keytothekingdom.com. You can download it in a variety of formats and it does not require any cost or commitment to do so. There are many other lessons there, as well, and I hope you will find something of interest or that meets your needs. Short messages and devotional thoughts are there. They, too, are easy to access and offer a practical application of God's Word. News and other information about this ministry, along with our mission efforts in India, are other things that might be of interest. Feel free to call the number on the screen and leave a message, and it will be returned very soon. Other ways to access “Key to the Kingdom” include Roku® television and a free phone app. I especially hope you will find, then like, us on Facebook®. Every week a short message is uploaded. Please take two minutes to view that message, then share it with others. Oh, these means of communication and social media provide many opportunities to contact and to be a part of this ministry. Thank you for tuning in each week on this same channel. I invite you to join us again next time as we continue to study the Bible on “Key to the Kingdom."