Today is Maundy Thursday on the Church calendar, the day before Good Friday, and the night of the Last Supper, which makes this verse appropriate today. This verse comes from Jesus’ words around the table that night, whilst the disciples were celebrating a traditional Passover, Jesus had in mind something different, and made what is old new again. Instead of a celebration of the Israelites’ liberation from Egypt, Jesus offered a new liberation, a new covenant with Israel and with all who would follow Him. This was liberation from bondage to sin.
We don’t think about that very much, our bondage to sin. Sin never seems like bondage when you first get into it. It just seems a pleasant alternative to doing things the “right way”, shortcuts if you will to getting what we want. Fornication is a shortcut to sex without the tedium and work of marriage. Drinking and drugs are shortcuts to pleasure that we would normally get after working all day and finally getting to rest and have some peace. Foul language is a shortcut to incisive argument, where we don’t actually have to do the work of research and thinking to come up with something important to say. I could go on. Cheating and shortchanging others is a shortcut to the hard work of acquiring wealth. You get the idea.
But while these things don’t seem like bondage at first, if you’ve had any practice at them, you find yourself in chains soon enough. What happens when that girlfriend has a baby? Or your creditors know you’ve been cheating them? Or you can’t stop using curse words in your daily conversation? What started as a choice became a habit, and a habit became a behavior, and a behavior, bondage. And like the Jews in Egypt, we found ourselves in sore bondage.
What Jesus offers is liberty, freedom to the captives. He offers your freedom, not through a self-help program, or weight-loss gimmick. He offers a change of heart, because that’s where sin has taken root. He offers a change of soul, a cleansing of heart and mind that only He can achieve through the sacrifice of the New Covenant, in His blood. But this isn’t something automatic. You must choose it. And it isn’t a one-time choice, but a daily walk. Sin is always crouching at the door, always waiting for a weak moment to strike. Always alluring, always present to offer you an easier way, a quicker way to get what you want. It’s a trap. Jesus’ calls us to a harder way. He calls us to the narrow path. But He offers eternity in exchange. He offers transcendent joy. He offers belonging, relationship, wholeness, well-being, all the joys I could want, found simply and fully in Him. He offers stable relationships, healthy marriages, kids who help heal your heart rather than break it. He offers all that you really want, but don’t know how to get right now. Why? Because He loves you.
Lord help me to embrace Your more difficult path, Your tougher path because I know in my mind and my heart that the rewards are far more fulfilling than the passing pleasures of sin. I know there is joy there, and peace. Grace and mercy to be had for the asking. Help me Lord to know you and all You are worth. In Your Name I pray, Amen.