God Frees and Redeems
How can humans live freely? The concept of freedom can have different meanings for different people. For some people, freedom means unchecked following of a person’s impulses and desires. In this regard, there is no concern for how so-called freedom affects others. Undisciplined living destroys freedom rather than enhancing it. This quarter’s Scriptures address three themes of true freedom in God: the power of memory, the significance of right belief, and the role of responsibility.
Memory and Freedom
As ancient Israel remembered their liberation from Egypt, the memory reinforced the nature of their relationship with God. Centuries after they left captivity, they remembered God’s act of liberation. Three lessons from the Old Testament book of Ezra describe how they rebuilt the temple and experienced liberation. As a result of their freedom, they were filled with joy and celebration, an acknowledgment of God’s faithfulness to his people.
However, in the midst of their freedom, Israel was called to submit. The Law of Moses reminded them of the great blessings they would receive if they obeyed God’s call on their lives (Deuteronomy 8:1–11). This obedience was rooted in their memory of God’s liberation in their history. As they remembered and followed God’s commands, they would experience true freedom. All God’s people must remember their story as a people called out of bondage and into a new life.
Right Belief and Freedom
Christian freedom requires right belief and faithful action. When either is lacking, freedom is defined by made-up rules or self-indulgent expressions. This quarter’s lessons from Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1–11) and his Passover feast with his disciples (26:17–30) show how the world had certain expectations of freedom. However, as Jesus followed his Father’s direction, he brought a new kind of freedom, one established in his resurrection (28:1–10).
Jesus triumphed over the bondage of death and sin. As a result, his Father frees all who follow him. His disciples knew this, as Jesus had already called them to “know the truth” (John 8:32). As disciples follow Jesus, they can be “free indeed” (8:36). Those who follow Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection gain freedom. True freedom comes through right belief in the work of Jesus Christ.
Finally, true freedom is not null of responsibility. Instead, because of Christ’s resurrection, Christians are to live freely and responsibly through submission. This comes as we imitate his life and are “clothed … with Christ” (Galatians 3:27). Through baptism, Christians join him in death so that they may join him in a new life, freed from the power of sin (Romans 6:3–4).
As a result, Christians are called to use their freedom in Christ to show love toward their neighbors (Galatians 5:14). Proper expression of freedom is rooted in ethical concern for others. To empower this, God gave the Holy Spirit to his followers. Through the Spirit, Christians live free and responsible lives, expressing the fullness of the Spirit in their actions (5:16–25).
This quarter’s lessons will show that true freedom comes through the sustained acceptance of God’s leading in our lives. When the people of God remember his work, they experience true freedom. Through this quarter, may we be reminded that God invites us to live freely and responsibly for him and for our community.
Mark Hamilton, “Quarter at a Glance,” in The NIV Standard Lesson Commentary, 2021–2022, ed. Jane Ann Kenney et al., vol. 28, The NIV Standard Lesson Commentary (Colorado Springs, CO: Standard Publishing, 2022), 227.