Tony Evans on Juneteenth and Our Freedom in Christ

In January 1863 the Emancipation Proclamation was declared. This legal document said that all slaves were now free. But in Texas, someone kept it a secret. They didn’t tell us that we were free. So for a couple of years after the Emancipation Proclamation, we were still in bondage.

We were acting like slaves because no one had told us we were free. In fact, we were so glad that someone finally told us, we made that date a holiday, and African Americans celebrate Juneteenth every year. Thank God, someone told us! If no one had ever shared the good news, then we would have stayed in slavery much longer.

Jesus Christ, on Calvary 2,000 years ago, signed your Emancipation Proclamation. He declared that you are free, but Satan is trying to keep it a secret from you. He’s trying to keep you from coming into the realization that you don’t have to stay tied down.

You don’t have to say “Yes, sir” to his control of your life any longer. You can now put down that plow and move “North.” You can now take the freedom that has been offered to you and act on it. You can collect your forty acres and a mule and start plowing your own land now. You can start living through the freedom that you have because you have now been made free in Christ. That’s who you are, but you must live like it.

This post is excerpted from Tony Evans’ Book of Illustrations, available in Logos.

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More about the history of Juneteenth

June 19 is Juneteenth, also called Emancipation Day or Juneteenth Independence Day, a holiday that celebrates the end of slavery in the United States.

Although President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863—freeing over three million slaves in the United States—news of its ratification didn’t reach most slaves until much later. 

On June 19, 1865—over two years after the ratification of the Emancipation Proclamation—Union soldiers arrived by boat in Galveston, TX, and announced to the slaves that they were freed from slavery. When the former slaves learned they were free, they “immediately began to celebrate with prayer, feasting, song, and dance.”

Juneteenth has been celebrated annually on June 19 since 1865 and is an official state holiday in 46 states. 

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Explore theological and educational contributions from African American scholars and authors.

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Written by Faithlife Staff