History lesson! On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing slaves held in the southern states. But take note: Lincoln did not free all the slaves. In fact, the Emancipation Proclamation did not mention the Union territories of Maryland and Kentucky (which were slave-holding states and where slavery was practiced). Huh – Lincoln abolished slavery in the Confederacy but kept in bondage those slaves in the Union.
I bet you didn’t learn that in high school history class!
This historical footnote has a theological point. In 2 Timothy 1:9-10 we hear these words: “This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”
In the events of Good Friday and Easter Sunday Christ abolished death – it was the Emancipation Proclamation of our souls and bodies. But let’s get real – we still die.
Much like old Abe Lincoln, Christ’s abolition of death did free us from that bondage, not yet fully. To continue the historical analogy, I believe that the cross and empty tomb are the Emancipation Proclamation – the first fruits of our liberation. Only with the 13th Amendment, after the dust of war has settled and the new Jerusalem has accomplished its purpose on earth, will we be truly free.