Reflections on how Christians help each other to grow and mature in loving God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love their neighbor as themselves.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Jesus' Declaration of Freedom

2 Samuel 5:1-5,9-10; Mark 6:1-13
"Jesus' Declaration of Freedom"

Two hundred thirty years ago a group of men in Philadelphia put their names to a document called a declaration of independence. They declared America's independence from the rule of the English king and his parliament. When they put their names to that piece of paper, each of them knew he was signing his death warrant should the war of independence fail. Those men in Philadelphia risked their lives and their fortunes all in the name of freedom and liberty.

With the signing of the declaration of independence, the United States of America was born. The passage we read in 2 Samuel tells us the story of the birth of the united kingdom of Israel. For some time David ruled as king of the southern nation of Judah. Saul and his sons ruled the northern nation of Israel. After Saul's death, Israel was thrown into chaos. In an effort to restore order, the leaders of Israel went to David and implored him to become their king. They invoked the name of the Lord God who told David: "It is you who shall be shepherd of my people Israel, you who shall be ruler over Israel." Thus David was to unite the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah and he was to be their king, their shepherd.

David was anointed to be a shepherd for God's people. God, who was the source of his power to rule and lead, did not intend for David to be a typical king;
God's king was to be a shepherd king.

A shepherd is one who lays down his life for his flock. He does what ever is needed to care for and protect the flock. The shepherd leads with love, compassion and justice. He gives special attention to the sheep who have special needs: the weak, the poor, the widow, the orphan, and the lost. This shepherd is God's paradigm for the office of king and ruler. To rule in accord with God's will is to rule as a shepherd, as one who serves for the well-being of the people.

While David was anointed to be God's shepherd king, Jesus is the ultimate embodiment of the shepherd king. He is the one who literally gave his life for his sheep.
In him we see God's power revealed in what the world regards as weakness and foolishness. You see, Jesus came for everyone. But he came especially for the poor, the oppressed, the disabled, and the outcast. In his kingdom the last shall be first and the first shall be last. Because of who he was and the way he lived out God's commands, Jesus was rejected by the people who knew him best and, ultimately, by the world.

When Jesus was rejected by the people, they rejected God's rule over their lives.
They said "No!" to God's vision for nationhood. They said "No!" to God's shepherd.
The powers of this world oppose God's shepherd at every opportunity. The powers are threatened by God's shepherd because his mission is to welcome all of God's children into the kingdom. The powers survive and thrive only when power and wealth are held and used by the few to oppress and exploit the many. They know that Jesus came to destroy their monopoly on power and wealth. They know that Jesus came to set all people free to live and love; all people without regard to race, class, religion, physical ability, or anything else; all people belong to Jesus.

The Lord's Supper is Jesus' declaration of freedom from the powers and principalities. It is his declaration to the powers and principalities that their days are numbered. The Lord's Supper is a reminder to the powers of sin and death of Christ's eternal presence in the world and his people. In it we are reminded that Christ gave himself for the world. His body was broken for the world. His blood was shed for the world; to set the world free from sin’s power to destroy and the hopelessness of death.

At the Lord's table, Christ's invitation is extended to all people everywhere in every time and every place. No one is excluded, no one is left out, no one goes home hungry, no one goes home thirsty. At the Lord's table, Christ invites all people, no matter who you are, to come and feast on forgiveness, peace, justice and hope.
At his table, Christ gives to all who will come his unconditional love and acceptance.

Christ tells you that you are forgiven and he invites you to become part of his declaration of freedom. His declaration of freedom from sin and death; the rulers of this world that try to convince us that real power comes from force, strength and violence.
Jesus, the Good Shepherd, sets us free from the dominion of the powers and principalities. He sets us free from sin's power to destroy and deceive. His declaration of freedom - revealed in the table and the cross - sets us free to love; to love as God loves; to love those whom God loves.

Come to the table. Accept God's grace-filled love, God's unconditional acceptance. Accept the freedom and liberty that only Christ can give. Come to the table to declare your independence from sin and death. Come to the table and accept the freedom to love and live with God.

3 Comments:

Blogger Sally said...

I am a Brit- and I love this post- these words
Christ tells you that you are forgiven and he invites you to become part of his declaration of freedom. His declaration of freedom from sin and death; the rulers of this world that try to convince us that real power comes from force, strength and violence.
Jesus, the Good Shepherd, sets us free from the dominion of the powers and principalities. He sets us free from sin's power to destroy and deceive. His declaration of freedom - revealed in the table and the cross - sets us free to love; to love as God loves; to love those whom God loves.
wonderful up lifting and full of freedom
Thank you!

2:06 PM

 
Blogger Steve said...

Thanks very much!

9:29 PM

 
Blogger Questing Parson said...

Powerful message of invitation. Thanks.

5:42 PM

 

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