“He has sent Me to set at liberty those who are oppressed.” – Luke 4:18
What is liberty? The dictionary defines it as “the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, behavior, or political views.” This certainly fits with the American way of life, since we fiercely defend our liberty. No activity more clearly demonstrates this then the right of every American to vote in the midterm elections. But from where did this American liberty originate? Many countries do not allow their citizens the liberty of choosing their political leaders.
Father Dennis O’Brien of the US Marines answers this question:
“It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the organizer, who gave us the freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier who salutes the flag and serves beneath the flag, whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag.”
On Monday, November 12 we honor our military as all Americans celebrate Veterans Day. The day before – Sunday, November 11, 2018 – commemorates the 100-year anniversary of the end of World War I. It began in June 1914. Over 4.7 million US soldiers enlisted, and over 116,000 died. Known as ‘The Great War’, and ‘The War to End All Wars’, from it the United States emerged as the world’s first global superpower. Since that war, America has been the envy of the world, and the one true exceptional nation.
In his January 2014 Wall Street Journal article “How the US helped win World War I”, Dr. Nick Lloyd explained it was the courage and resolve of our military that put the fear of God into the Germans and ultimately led to their surrender: “World War I marked a hinge in modern history: the moment the U.S. emerged as a global power and changed the meaning and direction of the 20th century.
When Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm II was warned that unrestricted submarine warfare—and the losses it would inflict on the U.S. merchant fleet—might provoke U.S. belligerence, he scribbled in a memo, “I do not care.” Even if the Americans did declare war on Germany, he blustered, they were just a bunch of cowboys with an army barely worthy of the name. What use would these weaklings be against Germany’s legions?
But the War Department began creating a new army from scratch to take on the Germans. Germany had underestimated not only America’s material superiority but also its determination to win. By August 1918, the U.S. First Army had been created – some 500,000 men strong. German commander Rupprecht of Bavaria, lamented, ‘The Americans are multiplying in a way we never dreamt of.’
U.S. troops sustained heavy casualties in the opening days, but German commanders looked on with horror. The Americans, they realized, would only grow stronger over the coming months. On October 3, 1918, the newly appointed German chancellor, Max von Baden, telegraphed President Woodrow Wilson to ask for an armistice and peace talks. For the German Empire, it would be the beginning of the end.”
While we celebrate our veterans, and especially remember our World War I heroes, for the liberty they maintain for all of us, this week’s verse has a much deeper meaning than just freedom from oppression. The liberty that God is speaking of is liberty from condemnation – liberty from the just penalty we all deserve for the sin we have committed and keep committing.
This liberty was given as a free gift to all people, whether Americans or not, by Jesus Christ at the Cross of Calvary. Our verse this week is taken from Luke 4:18, which records the very first sermon Jesus gave. And the subject of that sermon was liberty: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind. To set at liberty those who are oppressed.” (Luke 4:18).
We as Americans definitely owe our gratitude to our awesome military who put their lives on the line everyday to protect the liberty upon which this nation is founded, and recorded, in our Declaration of Independence. But true liberty is not doing what you want. It is doing what you ought. It is a moral directive that brings both material and immaterial blessings. And this ultimate liberty came when Jesus Christ willingly paid for our sins on the Cross to free us from the just penalty we deserve.
May this be why we celebrate our military heroes this Veterans Day, for their defense of the God-given, inalienable right to liberty that was provided on the Cross by Jesus Christ.
“The Evidence of Faith’s Substance” – Article #320