“But the slave may declare, ‘…I don’t want to go free. If he does this, his master must present him before God. Then his master must take him to the door or doorpost and publicly pierce his ear with an awl. After that, the slave will serve his master for life” (Exodus 21:5-6 NLT).
Every seventh year the Hebrew people were required to free their fellow Hebrews who had become indentured to them during the preceding six years. All debts were forgiven, even if the debt was a recent one. But if a Hebrew slave had a kind and benevolent master, he might offer himself as a slave for life. “I’m better off with you than I am being free. I want you to be my master for all my days.” In the ceremony of his lifelong enslavement, the voluntary slave was presented before God by the master and then his earlobe was pierced through with an awl.
This interesting custom provided a model of the still yet-to-come Christian life—a lifetime of servitude to a benevolent and gracious Master, an adoption into a royal family, a life of serving our Father as children of the King. We are Jesus’ booty, his war bride, his kinsman-slaves.
Ransoming us was costly—he lay down the privileges of his deity and put on human flesh, choosing to be born a poor man, living a life of sacrifice and love, transforming everything with his miracles of healing and kindness, allowing himself to be nailed to a cross to offer his perfect life for our broken ones, pouring out all of his blood, and sealing the deal by rising from the dead three days later.
After this remarkable feat, God exalted him, restoring to Jesus the glory that had been his for all eternity. This is why he is Lord of all. We call him Lord without thinking about what that means. We treat lightly the fact that we belong to him. Want proof? Ask yourself the two simple questions that mark those who belong to him: Do I love the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength? Do I love my neighbor as myself? We fail.
Cognizance of his sacrifice draws us to love him. He loves first. He initiates, drawing us to himself, placing faith in him within our hearts, allowing us to see him for who he is, enlightening our minds so we grow to know him, moving in our hearts so we want to obey him, empowering us to do it. His love pulls our hearts ever closer to his. We reciprocate. We love him in return. We then want to obey him, because we love him.
Living without him wasn’t as free as we had expected it to be. Rather than offering the freedom to do as we ought—us at our best, it was instead entanglement with sins we could not resist and from which we could not extract ourselves. Only when we’re his bondslaves are we truly free.
Master and Savior, I don’t want to be free. My idea of freedom isn’t free at all. I want to be yours—I want you to transform me; I want to learn to obey you. Present me to God as one of your own. Stand near to me, with tender hands hold my head firmly against your door, and pound your awl through my ear. Mark me for life.