December 7, 2019

From Prison to Eternal Life

On Monday, November 4, 2019, 462 inmates across Oklahoma were released from prison in what the governor’s office called the largest single-day mass commutation in the nation’s history.*

In a statement justifying the commutation, the governor’s office explained that the decision was made specifically because these inmates were serving time for low-level drug and nonviolent offenses.

We are in the month of the year that the world, for the most part, recognizes and celebrates December 25 as the date that tradition marks as the birth of Jesus Christ. The implications of that event so long ago represent much more than an early release from prison.

John, who hung out with Jesus for several years, tells us that Jesus was God, that He came down to earth, was born—wrapped in frail flesh and bone—in order to live and die for all of humanity. In fact, John refers to Jesus as the “light of all mankind,” and wrote that “in Him was life” (John 1:1-5). Jesus, the Messiah, came into our world to save, not just 462 people, but all people who have ever lived, are living, and who will live.

The reporting on the November release of all those prisoners focused on the incredulous, happy, and tearful reunions of inmates’ friends and families. But imagine how much more Jesus wants to welcome someone into salvation—eternal freedom from sin and death (Rom. 3:23; 6:23).

As presents go, this season reminds us of the best present of all: Christ’s presence! Imagine being able to live in the presence of God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit!

Near the end of his life, that same John who hung out with Jesus, was now a prisoner himself on an island separated from family, friends, and his congregation—all the people he knew and loved. As he remembers and writes what he saw in vision, I imagine him pausing, looking toward heaven, and with a small chuckle, a smile, and tears in his eyes, reminds himself—and all of us—that a time will come when Jesus, the One who gave Himself for John and for all humanity will forever be reunited with him—never again to be separated (Rev. 21:1-7).

I can’t imagine a better gift than that! And we don’t have to wait until we get to heaven; we can have God’s presence right now through the Holy Spirit (John 14:26; 16:7-15).

Merry Christmas!

Know Jesus. Love Jesus. Live Jesus!

Omar Miranda, a counselor and writer, lives with his family in unplain Plainville, Georgia.