Matthew 20:17-19: “Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, he took the Twelve aside and said to them, ‘We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!’”

As the day of His execution drew closer, Jesus began to share with His disciples what was about to happen. He knew the exact date and circumstances of His death. People on death row are familiar with the agonies of awaiting their own execution, except that Jesus had volunteered to die that way. It was a sacrifice He made. He did not die to prove a point, but to open the door to freedom.

All slavery is opposed to freedom. The International Labour Organization estimates that, by their definitions, over 40 million people are in some form of slavery today. 24.9 million are in forced labor, 4.8 million in forced sexual exploitation, and 15.4 million people are in forced marriages. There are other forms of slavery that are not included in the statistics of the International Labour Organization. Drugs, the quest for success, fame and fortune – all of that can be an unrelenting slave driver. If none of the above applies, suffice to say that all of us are driven by our ego, which can be just as unrelenting.

Slavery in general promotes disrespect; and disrespect reaps a bitter harvest. Injustice in the end is self-defeating. A human society wholly based on slavery is on the brink of death. In whichever form slavery rears its ugly head, it is a curse and its growing tumors destroy the face of humanity. Jesus died to remove these cancerous ulcers once and for all. He came to establish the kingdom of God and as such reestablish human-kindness.

God will not be the slave owner of His own creation. He refuses to enslave us, even if it is for the right reasons. The very day He forces us to be free we are no longer free. That is why freedom of choice is non-negotiable. Freedom is also the mother of creativity. God gave us artistic license, and He will never take it back. As much as slavery dehumanizes us, glorious freedom enables us to be truly human.

Jesus predicted that He would rise from the dead on the third day after His execution. And so it happened. The grave could not hold Him. The tombstone was rolled away and Jesus emerged, alive and well. We too will be raised to eternal life when we put our trust in Him.

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