by Stephen Whitney

Free Indeed
Stephen Whitney
I Peter 1:18-19

The 1959 movie Ben-Hur starring Charlton Heston won eleven Academy Awards. It is a story which captures the oppression and hopelessness of being a slave. After a very privileged upbringing in Jerusalem, Judah Ben-Hur through a series of misfortunes is arrested by the Romans. He is judged and then condemned to a life of serving in one of the Roman galleys.

There is this magnificent scene in the galley where having fallen from his position of privilege, is assigned to the bowels of the ship.

There he is, rowing away with all the other condemned men, suffering a hopeless future and expecting to eventually die.

He is only hanging on by sheer grit, by the skin of his teeth and rowing day after day with no relief in sight. The men around him begin to express their despair at this kind of dismal existence and as they vocalize this to the admiral, he explains to reason for their existence in these words: "We keep you alive to serve this ship."

Those words express the despair which a slave must feel and the spiritual bondage we must feel because we are slaves to sin.

John 8:34 Jesus said to the religious leaders, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sins is a slave to sin." Sin controls our thoughts which in turn determines what we do.

Romans 7:14-15 I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not do what I want to do, but I do the very thing I do not want to do.

When the admiral said, "We keep you alive to serve this ship." He was saying the only reason we continue to keep you in bondage is to use you or else we would gladly get rid of you. Their lives were only sustained so they could continue in bondage.

In the movie Ben-Hur, eventually God intervenes. In a battle, the slaves on this particular ship are set free. Judah Ben-Hur rescues the admiral and is later adopted as his son and rises to a position of power and authority once again.

James Montgomery Boice (d. 2000) wrote ...

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