Posted by: peebles | October 22, 2013

Luke 4:18 (NIV) ~ The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed.

The shackles fastened around his hands and feet, with the one around his waist, restricted his movements, causing him to walk slowly. He could hear the chains grind against each other as he shuffled down the hallway towards the big metal door. Just before he reached it, one of the two guards who flanked him, barked at him, screaming in his ear to stop. He could feel spittle from the guard spraying over his ear as he roared at him. Then the other guard took out a large set of keys which were on a huge metal ring. The sound of the keys banging together echoed all the way down the hallway. The clink and creaking of the lock as the key opened it was only surpassed by the old hinges whining, even howling with recoiling horror. The three men walked through the door into another long corridor which now faced them. It was filled with steel cell doors, metal fencing and wire mesh everywhere. The prisoner shook with terror and the door slammed shut behind him. A cold shiver went through his whole body, as if someone had, in that split second, poured ice-cold water down his back. He was then shuffled into a cell where six more prison officers were waiting for him, all with their batons drawn, as if wanting him to react so they could have an excuse to beat him senseless as a cruel and hideous form of a welcoming initiation. Once more, a prison officer barked at the man, as the shouting echoed within the walls of the small cell which intensified the man’s feelings of intimidation. He told the prisoner to face the wall and not to move a muscle! When he did, they slowly took the chains off him. After the last one was taken off, they walked out of the cell. It was then and only then, that the prisoner could turn around.

The silence was deafening as the walls seemed to draw closer. In the corner of the room was an old chamber pot caked in dirt, the stench from it so repulsive and nauseating, that the prisoner turned his head away and threw up from the pit of his stomach; his vomit spraying on the cold damp floor. Along the wall was a raised area the size of a bed, with an old gray coloured army blanket crumpled up at the top of it. When the prisoner lifted it up to give it a shake, several insects scurried out of it and ran along the floor towards the fresh warm vomit.

As darkness fell, the sun disappeared from the tiny barred window. It was no more than two feet square, but twelve feet from the ground. Darkness filled the cell, a darkness which could be felt. The new prisoner could hear cries from grown, hard men, calling for their moms. Saying over and over again, “I am sorry, so sorry.” Their sobbing grew heavier. The prisoner curled up in the corner of the cold cell, all alone, with no one to talk to and no one to comfort him. He drew his legs up to his chest and wrapped his arms around him. Now the reality was beginning to sink in, and there he burst out crying, rocking himself back and forth in a vain attempt to comfort himself. His whole body started to shake. His sobs where silent at first, but grew louder, as he turned his head towards the wall as if to use it as some sort of cushion.

Bang! Bang! The loud noise hammered from the cell door. “Get to your feet, go to the wall and stand there with your hands behind your back, NOW!” roared the voice from outside the door. When the prisoner did so, five men entered the cell, with their batons drawn. The prisoner could hear the all too familiar sound of the chains from the day before. Quickly and without mercy, His hands, feet and side were bound with heavy-duty chains. He was unceremoniously dragged to his feet.

“The Governor wants to see you,” a prison office sneered at him. Then the officer pushed his face right up the prisoner’s face, shoving the brim of his hat hard into the man’s brow. He then said in a menacing sneer, “Are you eye-balling me? Don’t you dare eye-ball me boy, or I will beat your face so bad no one will ever recognize you again!” The prisoner fixed his gaze on the officer’s shoes, not even daring to blink. As they all approached the Governor’s office, a senior guard walked in front, while the prisoner was flanked by prison officers, two in front and two behind. When they reached the door, the senior office tapped on the door and waited for the invite to enter. Once it was given, they all walked in. “Please sir, take a seat,” the Governor said to the prisoner, as he pointed to a vacant seat, as a way of an invite. “And take off those chains from the gentleman, so he may sit down.” There was a pause, and then one officer approached and almost reluctantly took off all the prisoner’s chains so he could sit down. The prisoner looked with astonishment, bewilderment and confusion. One minute he was in chains being threatened to be beaten up, and the next, his chains are took off him and he is asked to take a seat. It was at that moment that the Governor addressed the prisoner. “I have had a letter from the court land on my desk about you this morning.” On the prisoner’s face was a mixture of shock and apprehension as to what this letter said about him. “Let me read it to you,” said the Governor. “I hereby pardon the prisoner, for someone has come forward and paid the price of his freedom. He is a free man. The crime for which he received a custodial sentence is no longer applicable. His debt has now been paid in full.” The man gasped in almost disbelief. A huge sigh of relief came from his heart, as he slumped forward and put his head in hands whispering, “Thank you, thank you, oh God thank you.”

The look of his tormentor’s faces was twisted and contorted in a hideous form, almost turning red with rage and anger as they heard the declaration of pardon, and understood that this prisoner was now a free man.

My friend, by our sin, we have broken God’s law, and every one of us are hell-deserving sinners, all guilty and without excuse, but Jesus paid the price for our freedom. He took the punishment for our crime, that we, the guilty ones, may go free. Once we were bound, shackled by the chains of sin, and our tormentor beat us daily, but the God of all the ages gave us a pardon for our sin, wiping away our past and freeing us from the chains of sin.

There is a wonderful truth, so brilliantly explained in a hymn by Charles Wesley (1707-88):

Long my imprisoned spirit lay, fast bound in sin and nature’s night.

Thine eye diffused a quickening ray: I woke–the dungeon flamed with light!

My chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth and followed Thee.

Jesus Christ came to set the prisoner free from every spiritual chain of sin. Not only did he come to set them free, but the vilest offender who truly believes, that moment from Jesus a pardon receives.

God bless you my friend, Matthew.

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