In Luke chapter four Jesus announced his public ministry by quoting the prophet Isaiah:
"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor"
The Hebrew word translated freedom is דְּרוֹר (d@rowr) pronounced der-ore’. BlueLetterBible.com’s Hebrew Lexicon defines it as:
1. Swift flight, gyrations as a swallow wheeling in flight.
2. A free spontaneous and abundant flow of myrrh.
3. Liberty, freedom, to proclaim liberty to anyone as in the year of liberation of slaves also known as the year of jubilee.
The metaphoric application of freedom to a bird in flight is easy to comprehend. The author’s intent, employing the use of דְּרוֹר seems an obvious reference to the year of jubilee. But what of this free flowing myrrh. This has tweaked my curiosity.
Myrrh is a perfume. It is fragrant and sweet to smell but very bitter to the taste. A quick word search on BibleGateway.com reveals three prominent biblical references to myrrh.
1. As a gift of the wise men to Jesus &, Mary
2. As an ointment brought by Nicodemus for use in Jesus’ burial
3. And as a perfume referenced repeatedly in the passionate interaction between the Lover and the Beloved in Song of Solomon.
Could it be that freedom in Christ is both bitter and sweet? That it is extremely passionate? That it is present at birth and in death, the beginnings and the ends? I can look back over my short life and say yes.
Jesus, I want the fullness of freedom you secured for me. I want it all, the bitter, the sweet, the passionate, the life and the death. Come and do in my life what the prophet Isaiah foretold and you proclaimed, set me free, amen.
© Tom Zawacki 2006
Picture credit: “Flowing Passion” by Javier Lopez Barbosa