Known worldwide as a symbol of American freedom, the Statue of Liberty was actually a gift to the American people funded by people from all around the world with its design and planning done by the nation of France. Though I had seen it from the air, I didn’t have the chance to visit the statue up close and personal, until just a few years ago with some friends of ours. As we began to enter, I noticed on a wall inside the base an inscription written by the American poet Emma Lazarus. This was a poem she had originally written as part of an effort to raise funds for the project. Though the statue itself was dedicated and opened to the public in 1886, her poem was forgotten. But friends of Emma remembered her words and continued to lobby for them to be included until finally a bronze plaque with her timeless lines was added in 1903. Its second verse which is most remembered says:
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
As we approach Memorial Day I am thankful for the freedoms I can enjoy because of the sacrifice of so many men and women who died defending the ideas behind the lines on the Statue of Liberty. But those words should also remind us of another person who came to offer an even greater freedom to captives, 2,000 years ago. His name was Jesus and He did not raise a torch, but instead He Himself was raised up and nailed to a cross. There He suffered and died in exchange for freedom from sin and death for anyone who would come to Him in faith. Today, Jesus is still calling out. His words are not etched on a bronze plaque instead they are but by the spoken by Holy Spirit in our hearts.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 ESV