Today our world remembers a great man who ultimately sacrificed his life to stand for his convictions and inspire countless others to join him in peaceful protest. Fifty years ago today, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in the shadow of Abraham Lincoln’s statue. He quoted the gospel lyrics, “Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, I’m free at last!”
This year – a banner year – we recognize other men in America’s history who courageously lived in light of their belief that “all men are created equal.” On New Year’s Day, we celebrated 150 years since Abraham Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation. In November, we’ll recognize 50 years since John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
But every day, we unconsciously recognize an even greater advocate for freedom each time we write the current year. The date reminds us of the approximate number of years since Christ Jesus walked the earth.
[In my graduate classes, I encounter dates that are listed as BCE/CE (Before Common Era/Common Era) instead of BC/AD (Before Christ/Anno Domini). I find it interesting that even with the secular BCE/CE delineation, the dividing point is still the life of Jesus.]
The One who Martin Luther King, Jr. called “Lord” had some things to say about freedom. Let these words soak into your soul today:
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. . . . So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:31-32, 36
“He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’
Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’” Luke 4:16-21