Imagine being Rabbi Schacter moments after Patton’s army had liberated Buchenwald.
The first Jewish chaplain surveying the horror where hundreds of starving men piled in bunks from floor to ceiling. Though they had been freed, they remained in their barracks, numb to the sight of another uniform.
After all, new suits just meant new oppression and new abuse. Why leave camp to be battered and beaten again?
Then suddenly the silence breaks.
“Shalom Aleichem, Yidden, Ihr zint frei!” – “Peace be upon you, Jews, you are free!”
Slowly but surely, reality sets in…those sweet words of freedom spoken by one they now knew to be their own…
…the only one who could convince them they were truly free.
For some of you reading this, like the prisoners, you’re desperate for release, you’re hungry for life, but past defeats and present turmoil have stalemated you. Like a car in neutral, you’re going somewhere, yet feel inert as life races on.
If you can relate, I want to encourage you to consider what today stands for.
For once upon a time, Jesus felt the same way you did…
…when nailed to a tree…
…he took every fear, hate, and dirty little secret upon himself…
…and died for the redemption of man.
But that was ~2,000 years ago…yesterday.
As for today, its significance is often lost in the shadow of the cross. For while Jesus atoned our sins on Friday, it wasn’t until Saturday he ensured we could live free from them.
Granted, Jesus redeemed us from sin after judicially becoming it, but he knew sin had to go somewhere. Thus, with joy still set before him (Hebrews 12:2), he carried our sin to hell…so we could permanently be undefined by it.
Unfortunately, for many of us, like the Buchenwald captives, we base our identity in past and present circumstance. We know it’s for freedom Christ has set us free (Galatians 5:1), but are still skeptical thinking it’s going to disappoint in the hell of the moment.
However, when we remember Saturday…the day Jesus ripped the gates off Hades’ hinges¹, deposited our sins (past, present, and future), and withdrew keys to our victory…we ultimately find freedom in full where sin is not only confessed and repented, but renounced so we can be free from its power.
For while we’re cleansed through confession and repositioned through repentance, it’s not until we renounce sin we begin walking in freedom’s direction.
Therefore, if you’re thirsty for breakthrough, remember Christ not only shed his blood² for you, but unlocked freedom’s door so your struggle, your shortcoming…would never define you. Yes, there may be times you feel like a hesitant hostage or a fighter with the wind knocked out; however, once you receive the power Christ bought you on Saturday, you’ll find the freedom and strength you need to renounce the bondage of sin’s baggage.
Regardless of where you’re at this Easter, remember freedom is more than cleansing term; it’s an identity term! Hence, why we have every reason to rest in Rabbi Schacter’s charge 73 years in the making…
“Peace be upon you, all…you are free!”
Cover photo creds: Peg Pondering Again
- As the final scapegoat