Your Majesty, free yourself!

Syriac Christian rendition of St. John the Evangelist, from the Rabbula Gospels

Jesus answered them, Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin, is a slave of sin. … Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

John 8:34.36.

A king once came to see the slave philosopher Epitectus, whom he admired, offering to grant him liberty. “Free yourself!” replied Epitectus. His royal visitor protested, “But I am the king!” The philosopher answered, “A king ruled by his passions is in bondage. A slave who rules his passions is free! Your Majesty, free yourself!”

The philosopher sensed that true liberty is primarily an inner attitude. And this is one of the messages of the Christian faith, although the latter is often considered a to be a list of rules and prohibitions, mere frustration. The gospel is, however, rather a message of freedom. This liberty is not obtained by our own efforts, as Epitectus imagined, but is offered as a gift from God. It is a matter of confidence. We receive it by believing in the Lord Jesus, who through His death on the cross brought us forgiveness for all our wrongdoing and frees us from our servitude to evil.

Their new liberty can be lived out daily. In this sphere the paradox expressed by Jesus, “Whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 14:25), is fully manifested. In other words, whoever wishes to defend his liberty at any cost will lose it, but whoever is ready to lose it by placing himself confidently in God’s hands will receive true freedom, like a wonderful gift of God’s love.

Image: By Icon – The forerunner, Public Domain,