My name is Mary and I have been privileged to love the Bible and share its teaching for many years now.
Just recently I happened to turn on the television and caught a short film taken by whale-watchers in California and in the Bay they discovered a humped back whale that was in trouble. On closer inspection, they found it was covered in a huge dragnet that was like a strait jacket trapping the poor creature. They manoeuvred their boat very close to it and leaning over the side, they hauled on the net and started cutting it and cutting it and kept on cutting it until the whale was free.
It then swam off a little way and then leapt out of the water, like a child turning somersaults. It kept up a wonderful acrobatic display for some minutes before swimming off. It was a wonderful picture of the joy of freedom. It must have been wonderful for that animal to stretch its muscles and to leap out of the water like that.
It made me think of what freedom means for us, too. There is a lovely little verse in the Bible that says, ‘For freedom, Jesus Christ has set us free.’ [Galatians 5:1]. Just like that whale, we get tangled up and bogged down by all sorts of horrible things, don’t we? But Jesus promised that we will know the truth and the truth will set us free.
There’s a shocking little story in the Bible about a woman who was taken in the very act of adultery. The man – there was a man involved but he abandoned her to her fate. Let me read you the story.
“At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you who is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
At this, those who heard began to go away, one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go your way and sin no more.” [John 8:2 – 8:11].
The law offered that woman death. Jesus offered her life. The law offered her punishment. He offered forgiveness. The law offered her condemnation. Jesus offered her a fresh start in life. “Go your way and sin no more.”
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through him the law of the spirit of life sets us free from the law of sin and death. Isn’t that wonderful? – set free from the law of sin and death.
We can choose whether to live under the law or we can choose the freedom of a life of faith.
That whale had to remain still while they hauled on the net and cut at it. It must have been very uncomfortable, but it had to trust his rescuers. If we put our trust in Jesus, he has promised to set us free, free to be ourselves, our true selves and the people that we really want to be.
Jesus came to show us what God is like. God is not a harsh, stern and severe judge. He is a loving father who delights to accept those who acknowledge they are not perfect and who need his help. He forgives, he lifts up the fallen, he restores and gives people back their self respect.
Above all Jesus sets us free to know and love God with all our hearts and call him our Father. Amen.