Devotion for 2 March 2023 Anno domini, the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
41 There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. 42 And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? Gospel of St. Luke 7:41-42
There is a great contrast between a Fortress and a Prison. The first is constructed on high ground for defense, the second in the shadows of the world to hold the captive fast. Of course, there are similarities as well. Both have high and strong walls. Both have ramparts for the watchman, and both have a large gate for access. But the Fortress has a great gate that opens both ways to enable the inhabitants to enter or depart at the desired season. The gate of the prison, however, only opens inwardly and does not allow free movement in and out for the incarcerated souls inside. The prisoner in the prison must remain bound and deprived of freedom until his debt to society is paid. Some in prison have debts beyond their ability to pay and must remain locked inside until the end of their lives. In fact, all who are in prison, and even in the fortress, have had debts which they were incapable of satisfying. Large or small, it matters not if the debtor has no means to pay.
So how came the freeman to occupy the fortress and the debtor the prison? How was the freeman able to pay his debt and gain his freedom. In reality he, too, had no means to satisfy his debt – large or small. His debt was satisfied by one who paid all on his behalf.
The truth be known, it was not the soldier who died for your freedom, but the Lord Jesus Christ. The soldier who defends our freedoms serves as an arm of the Lord in doing so. The prophet, Isaiah, speaks of the One who would truly set free the prisoner who longs to be free: “I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house. I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.” Isaiah 42:6-8, and, “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.” Isaiah 61:1
These are the very words of our Lord Jesus Christ at the synagogue in Nazareth: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” Luke 4:18
Those who linger in the darkness of the dungeons of sin are unaware of the Light that is available to them in Christ. Those who have known only darkness cannot appreciate the liberating power of the Light. But in the day that the Light is revealed, these are almost blinded by its brilliance and glory. The chains fall from the ankles and wrists, the way of movement is made clear, and the invigorating sense of freedom and liberty overwhelms the liberated prisoner. Though the gate of the prison may remain closed, its walls crumble by the force of the Light of Christ.
We were all once in the prison of sin. Whatever our sin-debt – large or small – we were unable to pay. “But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:22-23
So, were you never a sinner? “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; Romans 3:23-25
Our prisons are made by the labors of our own hands. Sin by sin, we built its walls. But the only power and authority that can relieve us of our imprisonment is that of the Lord. He redeemed us from the wages of sin (death) by His own death on the cross. We are no longer prisoners, no longer servants to sin, but are made free sons and daughters of the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ if we have been made alive and set free in Him.
The Liberty Bell may be seen at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. On its vesture is inscribed these words from Isaiah: “Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants thereof.” There is an important verse in Psalms – “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.” Will America become a people again who are so blessed by God’s favor?