The festival of Easter marks the most significant event in biblical thinking, namely, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
It is appropriate that the Christian churches and the communities in Ghana give special place in celebrating the Easter festivities.
This year's Easter festival will be part of the Ghana @ 50 celebrations as well. The current buzz word in Ghana is "Freedom". A Jubilee year, in biblical thinking, reminds us of God's concern for human freedom. God wants people to be free (Leviticus 25, Deuteronomy 15).
This subject was the theme of Jesus' address at the commencement of His public ministry, when He read His manifesto "the Spirit of the Lord is upon me because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor, He has sent me to proclaim freedom to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind and to set free the oppressed" Luke 4: 18. In other words, Jesus says, He was sent to proclaim freedom to humanity.
In fact, the events of the first Easter was for Jesus to give freedom to humankind. But "Freedom from what and for what?" You can pause and make your own list.
The coastal line of this country continually rings out the painful reminder of the treatment of inhuman indignity by human beings against other human beings – the slave trade.
We cannot forget the Jesus factor in stopping the slave trade; the William Wilberforce motion and the Legislation in the U. K. parliament on his motion for slave trade to be abolished 200 years ago.
Sadly the slave trade continues and the contemporary slave trade and exploitation of Africa takes different and varied forms.
The answer to "Freedom from what?", Can be summarised as follows:
• Freedom from the power of sin; Freedom from the penalty of sin; and Freedom from the presence of sin.
In these, Jesus is the one who sets us free. Jesus is our freedom giver because He is our sin bearer, "who has believed our message? To whom will the LORD reveal his saving power?
My servant grew up in the LORD'S presence like a tender green shoot, sprouting from a root in dry and sterile ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. He was despised and rejected — a man of sorrows, acquainted with bitterest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way when he went by.
He was despised and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were punishment from God for his own sins! But he was wounded and crushed for our sins. He was beaten that we might have peace. He was whipped, and we were healed!
All of us have strayed away like sheep. We have left God's paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the guilty and sins of us all". (Isaiah 53:1 - 6). Jesus died and was raised again to life to give us freedom from the power of sin, the penalty of sin, and the presence of sin.
And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (2 Cor. 3:17).
In fact we have had Ghana's debts cancellation in the jubilee year, but we can't stretch the Biblical jubilee principles too far with regard to Ghana @ 50 celebrations.
Some speakers and writers are creating a faulty image of spiritual, socio economic, and political expectations for Ghana @ 50.
For our dear nation to grow strong and great into the future we need to be a nation with a strong moral backbone, and great industry. This is because the bible states unequivocally that righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach unto any people.
We would therefore urge all Ghanaians and all who live in Ghana to seek, as the first stanza of the National Anthem supplicates, "to be filled with true humility" and to pursue a lifestyle of "fearless honesty" that will dismantle the current culture of corruption.
We must be a people who love hard work and discipline.
The Bible teaches that in the Christian faith all are one –there must be no destructive tribal distinctions, or divisive political colorations.
Therefore, Heads of Churches, Pastors and Christian leaders as Spiritual Shepherds in the communities must so preach, teach, heal and live in ways as to promote unity in the communities and in the nation.
In spite of the challenges for providing electrical power, Easter celebrations during Ghana @ 50 will be special and lively. The most important thing though is to enjoy the freedom Christ gives this Easter.
Happy Easter to you all!!
By Jude Hama,
Scripture Union, Ghana