The Only Free Person: Jesus
Only truly free person who has have lived is Jesus, the Christ, Son of God.
In the 21st century West, we tend to think of freedom negatively as freedom from: from constraint, morality, obligation, limitation. Our icons are lone rangers like Rambo and the Marlboro Man. One person against the world, without care, without accountability to anything outside (much less above) the self. This is freedom as it is commonly spoken of today. If you don’t believe it, ask 6 out of 10 millennials what their relationship status is or what they think about having children.
Jesus offers a different model of freedom altogether.
Jesus was free because he was obedient. His liberty was based not in freedom from all outside constraint, but because his life was forfeit to the Father. His was freedom for: for the Father, for his mission to Israel and the Gentiles, for the inauguration of the Kingdom.
Alexander Schmemann, reflecting on baptism in the Eastern Orthodox tradition, argues that the one who bows is the only one who is free:
And how truly noble, truly human and genuinely free are those who still know what it means to bow before the High and the Holy, the True and the Beautiful, who know what reverence and respect are; who know that bowing down before God is the true condition of freedom and dignity. Indeed Christ is the one truly free man, because He was obedient to His Father to the end and did nothing but the Father’s will. To join the Church alway has meant to enter into Christ’s obedience and to find it the truly divine freedom of man. (Of Water and the Spirit, 34)
To be a Christian, a member of the body of Christ, is to participate in “Christ’s obedience” and discover that true freedom is to incandescent with God’s grace. “He must increase, and I must decrease” is not a figure of speech, it is the via salutis (way of salvation). (John 3:30)
The radical call of the gospel is that any other freedom is merely shadow and illusion. In bowing before our Creator, we discover the only freedom that is not self-negating, because we are imitating the one truly free person.