Jesus proclaimed he had come to bring liberation to the oppressed and to set the captives free (Luke 4:18-19). Throughout the course of scripture, God has a history of doing this very thing over and over. God is in the business of bringing freedom and liberation to the powerless.
And yet, this calls to our attention what it means to be oppressed and what it means to be freed. There are different types of oppression. There is physical oppression and there is spiritual oppression. In the history of Israel, we see a lot of people being set free from physical oppression. And this week, we come upon a story I perceive to be someone being set free spiritually.
In Acts 16:16-34, Paul and Silas are put in prison for disturbing the peace in Rome. That night they were singing songs of worship when an earthquake struck and broke open the prison doors. And yet, even though the doors had opened, none of the prisoners escaped.
The guard woke up to see what had happened and threatened to kill himself because he thought he had failed those in power who entrusted him to guard the prison. But Paul intervened and showed him that everyone was still there and that none of them had left their cells. The guard was immediately struck by the amount of grace these people had shown him and was convinced that this Jesus figure was worth following. He soon accepted Christ’s love, agreed to be baptized alongside his whole family, and he cleansed the wounds of those who had been held captive.
While at first we might believe this story is about Paul and Silas being set free from prison, I believe it is more about this prison guard being set free spiritually. Instead of being held captive by the Roman Empire, he gives his life to the love of God and commits to serve those who had been harmed under his watch.
This story is powerful because it reminds us that we too might need to be set free spiritually. There are numerous things that hold us captive, whether it is the polarized political climate, our toxic work environments, or unhealthy interpersonal relationships. We often need to be set free from the powers over us in order to see God’s goodness around us.
This week’s scripture reminds us that hope is always alive and that we are all within the reach of God’s grace. There is nothing that can separate us from the liberating power of God. Over the next few days, I invite you to ask God to set you free from whatever it is that is holding your mind and spirit captive.
Might each of us receive this grace of God and be emboldened and empowered to extend that grace out in the world. Might God’s Spirit be SET FREE in each of us and all across our community!
We hope to see you in worship this Sunday in person or online at 11am at St. John’s on the Lake! Let us come together and worship this God of unending grace!
Peace and Blessings,