Happy Fourth of July. I pray that your celebration of our freedom as Americans was wonderful.
I pray that you appreciate that freedom realizing that freedom is never free. People have been sacrificing to earn and defend our freedoms from Nathan Hale and Patrick Henry in the Revolutionary War up through Sgt. Dustin J. Perrott and Airman 1st Class Jason D. Nathan, who were killed in action just this past week.
Ask their families if freedom is something we should take for granted. Never. The freedom we love as American citizens is a precious possession - only eclipsed by the freedom we own as children of God. So let's celebrate that freedom by remembering the price of freedom.
Our text takes place shortly after Jesus fed more than 5,000 people with just five pieces of bread and two fish. Here Jesus had some rare quiet time with his disciples, and he asks them a question to see if they are understanding just what they were a part of, just what their mission was. "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"
Peter answered, "The Christ of God."
Peter's answer showed that he understood why Jesus had come - not just to do miracles, but because he was the Christ, the "Anointed One," the one who God promised would crush Satan's power over us, the one God promised would be pierced for our transgressions; the one who said of himself, "I am the resurrection and the life." The freedom Jesus would bring would be freedom from living a life crippled by sin, death and Satan. In Christ, we are free to live, not just for a time, but forever.
But, you noticed, as soon as Peter made that statement about Jesus, Jesus reminded him of the price of freedom. "The son of man must suffer many things."
Why? Well, it's because freedom isn't free. By nature we aren't free. As soon as Adam and Eve trusted Satan's lie more than God's word - our fate was sealed. As soon as you and I trust Satan's lie that "This won't hurt anyone," "It will be so worth it," or "This way is so much easier," - as soon as we give in to one of those - we lock ourselves up.
We become prisoners to the guilt that sin brings, knowing we aren't deserving anything good from God, slaves to the shame of understanding how we rebelled against God, slaves to the fear that "Death comes to all who sin" (Rom 5:12). Like Jesus said in John 8, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin." We were under a cruel master.
And, just like the British didn't just "go away" 231 years ago... just like the terrorists aren't just "going away" now - Satan doesn't want to give up on us so easily. There is a price to defeat his hold. And no army in the world could give enough lives to pay it. Only the perfect son of God, and as he calls himself, the son of man, could do it. He knew it, too. He told Peter and all the disciples exactly the price he had to pay: "The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life."
"He must be killed," and he was, on that cross, for us. And let's not miss the end of the sentence. He must be "raised to life." And he was. Since Jesus defeated death's hold, since he had crushed sin's power and Satan's claims - he rose and we will too. We are now, really, free. Jesus paid the price. So live in the freedom Jesus won for you. He paid the price. Enjoy it. And use your freedom to come hear more about it on Sunday.