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.

Opposed to freedom is slavery. The International Labour Organization estimates that, by their definitions, over 40 million people are in some form of slavery today: 24.9 million 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, such as all kinds of addictions and greed. Suffice to say that we are driven by an unrelenting ego.

All forms of slavery promote disrespect and disrespect reaps a bitter harvest: we lose ourselves. Slavery is a curse and its growing tumors destroy the face of humanity. Jesus died to remove these cancerous ulcers once and for all. He 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. He emerged from the tomb alive and well. When we believe in Him we will be raised from the dead and freed from the rule of our ego.

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 human. We are truly human when we love God and when we are kind.

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