In the law given at Mt. Sinai, God set economic rules for physical Israel to follow. These rules included a form of servitude designed to pay off a debt. This servitude was completely voluntary, and when the time allotted for the debt had expired, the individual returned to full freedom. On occasion, however, the servant would build a life in servitude based on love and respect for his employer, a life that being released would destroy. In that case the employer would take the servant before all the people and stamp a hole through the servant’s ear against the employer’s doorframe, symbolically binding the servant with the employer’s household forever. Some would say that this binding was a sacrifice of freedom, a sacrifice of choice, but in reality it was the ultimate choice.
On a warm starry night many hundreds of years later, the God of Heaven arrived on Earth as a baby, completely dependent. He would live thirty-three years within restrictions vastly smaller than His own nature, serving His creation, paying a debt to them that they owed to Him. When the time of His earthly servitude expired, he allowed His creation to pierce Him, much as the servant’s ear was pierced, symbolically binding Him to His creation as He was bound to a wooden cross. Some would say that this binding was a sacrifice of freedom, a sacrifice of divine choice, but in reality it was the ultimate choice.
My ear has not been bored with an awl, my body has not been nailed to a cross. These are pictures, symbols, provided to help us understand our purpose and our relationship with God. Our service to Him is not forced; we have always been and always will be given a choice. Choosing to serve Him is choosing to know Him, to become a part of His life as He becomes a part of mine. Unlike human employers, who may not inspire pleasant feelings in their employees, God calls His servants loved children. Once experienced, that love cannot be easily relinquished, and our souls are pierced, joined forever with His. Our wills bend to please Him because we return that incomprehensible, unshakable love to Him. Some would say that this bond is a sacrifice of freedom, a sacrifice of choice. In reality it is the ultimate choice, a choice that is never changing, never ending. It is the choice of a servant.