Two-hundred-thirty-seven years ago today, our Founding Fathers signed a document that resulted in a fight and eventually freedom for our nation. In reality, tension was already high and fighting had already begun. The Boston Tea Party of 1773, the Battles of Lexington and Concord in 1775, and a number of other events led to a royal decree in August, 1775 from the British Parliament (The Proclamation of Rebellion) that declared that the American colonies were in “open and avowed rebellion.” Less than a year later the Declaration of Independence was signed and a new nation was birthed.
If it wasn’t clear enough already, the signing of the Declaration of Independence certainly picked a fight with Great Britain. But it was a fight that resulted in freedom.
This Sunday at LifePoint we’re going to hear a story from Scripture where a fight was picked. This fight would also result in freedom. Not national freedom from an oppressive monarchy, but eternal, redemptive freedom from the power of sin, Satan, and death.
The text is Mark 11:12-26, where Jesus entered the temple and “cleansed” it. After declaring the center of their life and religion bankrupt and deserving of God’s judgment, the religious leaders (the power brokers of their society) responded accordingly:
And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching.
The fight was picked.
The crazy thing is, this fight that Jesus picked was one he intended to lose. This shot that he fired across the bow began a battle he came to earth to lose, in order to win a war that he alone could win. He was pronouncing judgment on the empty religion of the temple system, fully aware that he was there to set up a new sacrificial system. This new system would put the target of judgment squarely on Jesus himself.
Years later the writer of Hebrews compared the old sacrificial system to the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross:
According to this (old sacrificial system) arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation. But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent ( not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.
Jesus pronounced judgment on the temple system, because he was preparing to take judgment himself. He picked a fight he came to lose, to win a war for our eternal redemption that he alone could win.
Waking up this morning, I’m thankful that the Founding Fathers picked a fight for freedom. I’m going to shoot off some fireworks tonight in celebration of that fact. But I’m reminded today as well that a greater fight was picked, a greater battle was lost, and a greater war was won through the cross of Jesus Christ. The freedom available through that cross cannot be taken away by an oppressive monarch, a totalitarian government, or a despotic dictator. It’s a freedom available to every tribe, tongue, people, and nation. That’s good news.