June 17, 2024

Juneteenth Reflection

Dr. Jay Jackson

PBA News

The LORD works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed. – Psalm 103:6

“Freedom” is a term many Americans take for granted. For millions of slaves in the Southern United States, “freedom” arrived on January 1, 1863, with President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. However, more than 200,000 Texan slaves would not receive news of their freedom until June 19, 1865, over two years later. Today, June 19, 2024, we celebrate the freedom granted after 250 years of the chattel slavery system in America.

As Christians, we know God cares deeply for the oppressed and marginalized. The virtues of justice and liberation are central to our Heavenly Father’s heart as seen in Israel’s deliverance from Egyptian bondage after 400 years. Approximately 1,500 years later, mankind would receive the ultimate deliverance – freedom from sin and death by the atonement of Jesus Christ. Truly, we serve a God who delights in setting the captives free.

Juneteenth is more than a national holiday; it is an opportunity to celebrate Christ’s redemptive work that has triumphed over the sin of slavery in our country. It is easy to look at the history of our nation and see the darkness of racial oppression, inequality, and discrimination. However, from a different vantage point, we can see the superior power of God overcoming the darkness. Amidst oppression, hatred, and despair, Jesus did what only He could do – bringing life, justice, freedom, and healing. Despite the trauma of the past and the ongoing work needed, the reality is that God has performed a wonderful, redemptive work in our nation. By His Spirit, He has vanquished the sin of slavery and moved us closer to a more heaven-like society with liberty and justice for all. Gone are the days of segregation, Jim Crow laws, redlining, and other works of darkness. Now that is a cause for celebration!

Isn’t it amazing that God did not choose to bring about this transformation with the snap of His fingers? Instead, He chose to use ordinary, everyday, flawed human beings – His Church – to bring freedom and reconciliation. The Lord worked through godly men and women like Frederick Douglas and William Wilberforce to spread the abolitionist movement from the West to the rest of the world. We serve a God who gives us the incredible opportunity to co-labor with Him to bring about His purposes in this world. In this way, Juneteenth is a sober reminder that amidst the chaos, brokenness, and darkness of the world around us, God has called us to be the light of the world, offering the freedom that only Christ can give.

So today, as we celebrate Juneteenth and the countless freedoms we enjoy in America, let us remain mindful of those around us who are still in spiritual bondage, awaiting news of the freedom that was purchased for them 2,000 years ago on Calvary.


Dr. Jay Jackson
Associate Dean of Student Affairs | Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice

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