We like to think we are totally free, but the bitter truth is we simply are not. Or better put, our freedom is limited on every side — by governments, corporate giants, physical and mental frailties, genetic shortcomings, and even the boundaries of time and space, and above all, the burden of our sins and pending deaths. In our day, we are perhaps particularly aware that we are not free to disconnect from the technocratic rulers of the air. If you doubt me, try not paying your internet bill and see what happens. We are not totally free.
It’s nothing new, of course. In Jesus’ day, everyone felt the crushing weight of the Roman Empire. You can say you’re free all you want. But try not paying your taxes to Rome and see what happens.
Once we feel this burden in our own lives — however it comes — we are ready to hear the stunning announcement that commences Mark’s gospel, “The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” It’s not a simple perfunctory introduction, but a dramatic announcement of new freedom. The word “gospel” was a political, even military, term. It meant: a great victory has been won and a new king is in charge. This Jesus — not the Roman emperor — is God’s son, and he has defeated all that crushes human freedom. It’s time to follow him and be truly free. This week let’s refuse to submit our freedom to false rulers — especially that of sin. And let’s rejoice that Christ is coming to make us perfectly free from all our oppressors.