Here in this season of Epiphany, the texts we read in worship help us to see Jesus in the light God intended. He is proclaimed to be God’s Son at his baptism. Nathaniel calls him “Rabbi, …the King of Israel.” The first disciples set down their nets to follow this new teacher. And this week, Jesus speaks as one with “authority,” commanding even unclean spirits to obey.
Today, in a nation and society that so greatly values freedom, and in a religion that claims to set us free from the burden of the Mosaic law (the inherited laws of the Hebrew people; the laws of Moses), what might it mean for us to also see Jesus as our “authority?” What, if any, are the limits of our freedom according to our teacher, God’s Son?
Paul writes to the early church in Corinth, also wrestling with this question as they reconcile both Jews and Gentiles into the one body of Christ, the Church. He encourages them to “take care that this liberty of [theirs] does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak…” knowing that the example we set and the actions we take can either build up or obstruct. Paul reminds the church—including us—that in our freedom we can choose what is best for ourselves, or what is best for all.
Though God grants us free will, and salvation by grace, may we not forget the lessons of our teacher, who guides us to bear witness to His mercy and love.