Our dear friend Safi often expresses thankfulness for the freedom she and her family have found in the U.S. after moving here from Iran. Indeed, we are all grateful for the political and other freedoms we enjoy. The Pharisees seemed to have a bit of a problem with the notion of freedom, that is, freedom from deadly legalism. Jesus and his disciples walked through the grain fields on a Sabbath. They were hungry, and the disciples grabbed a few ears of corn as they walked. The Pharisees went apoplectic. Jesus reminded them about David, who was fleeing from Saul. When hungry, the priests gave them the sacred bread to eat. And the same sort of thing went down, between Jesus and the Pharisees, in the story of the man with the paralyzed hand.
The Pharisees were so intent on everyone adhering to their noxious and weighty rules that they forgot real needs. The legalism of the Pharisees was bondage. The gospel of Jesus is freedom! Jesus to the Pharisees: “I desire mercy and not sacrifice” (12:7). As we approach Labor Day and the end of summer, it’s a good time (Actually, it’s always a good time, isn’t it?) not only to give thanks for our national freedoms, but even more so, for our freedom in Christ. Freedom from sin and legalisms. Freedom from condemnation. Freedom from death. That's sweet!
Free from the law, O happy condition,
Jesus hath bled, and there is remission;
Cursed by the law and bruised by the fall,
Grace hath redeemed us once for all.
Now we are free, there’s no condemnation,
Jesus provides a perfect salvation;
“Come unto Me,” O hear His sweet call,
Come, and He saves us once for all. –P. P. Bliss (1873)