In 1863 an escaped slave named Gordon appeared in Baton Rouge with the scent of onions on his skin. He had been running from his master, the cruel John Lyons, who owned a plantation 40 miles away and wasn’t about to let “his property” escape that easily. Lyons had sent a bloodhound pack to track Gordon, which explained the onions. Gordon rubbed his skin with the fragrant onions, reapplying after crossing every creek or stream, to throw off the dogs, allowing him to reach his refuge among the Union Army. When he arrived, a photographer snapped a picture of Gordon’s back, grotesquely scarred from Lyon’s whip, a picture that silently preached of the horrors of slavery.
Slavery is one of the pictures that the Bible uses to describe our story. “Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin’” (John 8:34). Whenever something other than God is in control of our lives, we are slaves. That something might be the pursuit of our dream career, the perfect family, or a relaxing retirement. While these seem so unlike John Lyons, they can prevent us from reaching the freedom of heaven.
This is why Jesus went on to say, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). Through Jesus’ scars, we escape the devil’s plantation and reach the promised land of heaven, where God is always present and where we are free indeed.
Take a moment to ponder the life of someone enslaved to sin. Then worship as you remember that Jesus set you free.