Letters to the Prison - Week 83

Hello!  We miss coming to see and worship God with you.  We’re studying John 8 and Jesus is talking about slavery.  This is a very sensitive and inflammatory topic these days.  The same was true back in Jesus’ time, also.  Especially when Jesus says, “everyone who commits a sin is a slave to sin” (John 8:34).  When you consider that statement along with what we read in Psalm 14:1-3, it quickly becomes apparent that, according to Jesus, we are all slaves.  
Further, Jesus makes it plain that if we “abide in his word,” we will “know the truth” and the “truth will set us free” (John 8:31-32).  Moving ahead, Jesus adds to this the idea that:
•The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.          -John 8:35-36
What did Jesus say about himself here?  Clearly, he’s referring to himself as the son.  No son “remains forever” unless he is the eternal Son of God.  So, Jesus is the Son who sets people free…  and they are free indeed.  But didn’t Jesus also just say that the “truth will set us free?”  Which is it?  Jesus will make it plain in a few chapters when he says:
•“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  -John 14:6
So, Jesus is the Truth and Jesus is the Son who sets those who are enslaved to sin free.  And those who are freed from slavery to sin by Jesus are free indeed.  This is a profound thing for Jesus to say about himself… and us!  And so, the question arises:  Is Jesus who he says he is?  It is a “yes” or “no” question and we have to answer it for ourselves… and then live accordingly.  Jesus is challenging his current audience to do the same, and the conversation is about to take a nasty turn because of it.  Keep in mind, Jesus is talking to a large crowd of people, many of whom “believed in him” because of what he said (John 8:30) yet they thought that because they were Jews –descended biologically from Abraham—they were automatically “children of God.”  Not so, according to Jesus.  Here’s where this conversation gets ugly:
Jesus makes it plain that things like upbringing, religious activity, race, or social rank mean nothing eternally.  What matters is whether Jesus’ word finds a place in us.  Look what he says:
•I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you.
Once again, Jesus calls out the murderous intent of the crowd…  including many of those who superficially claimed to “believe in him.”  Were there true believers among them?  Probably.  We read later (in Acts and elsewhere) about hundreds of true believers in Jesus who joined the early church shortly after his death and resurrection.  But the major portion of this crowd is hostile, and Jesus knows it.  He says:
• I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.”-John 8:38
Next week, we’ll see how the crowd reacts to this dire indictment from Jesus.  We love you!

Dean A.

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