This week we will study John 8:31-37. Let’s read the passage, “So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you.””
Abiding in His Word
In John 8:31-37, we see that Jesus was still talking to the Jews in the treasury of the temple. But, unlike the last passage we covered, Jesus was talking to the Jews who believed in Him, instead of engaging with the unbelievers. He said to them, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”. Jesus is telling them that one characteristic of a true disciple is to abide in His Word. I think there are two meanings to this, He may have been referring to His words that He was speaking to them, would speak to them, and that this was a call to follow Him. But, when looking at the passages around this passage, Jesus has been talking about how He and the Father are One. So, I think another meaning is that Jesus meant that a true disciple dwells in the Word of God, which would be the Old Testament, because at this time none of the New Testament had been written. Because this is what I think Jesus meant, we need to be extremely careful with any pastor or church who claims that the Old Testament is no longer necessary or is obsolete. For us today the implications are the same, because we need to abide in His Word, which is both the Old and New Testament. To abide, does not just mean that we read it and think about it for a few minutes, no it means that you meditate on it and ponder its implications in your life, in the Church, and in the world. It is similar to what Joshua and David both said, that they meditate on His Word day and night (Joshua 1:8, Psalms 1:2). I think that this is a lifelong pursuit, because we are all constantly changing and are in different places in our lives. His Words that did not stand out to us last week, may be exactly what we need this week. We can all draw closer to Him by abiding in His Word.
Jesus then said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Jesus also said in another passage that He was the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6). The whole Bible points to Jesus and He calls us to start a relationship with Him. When you abide in His Word then you will know Jesus, because Jesus is the Truth and He is the One that can set you free. Well the logical question is from what, what is He setting us free from? But, instead of asking the logical question, the Jews take offense to this and say that they had never been enslaved and are the offspring of Abraham. The Jews being the offspring of Abraham was correct, but them being enslaved to no one was a lie. They were in a continual pattern of sin and serving other gods, because of this they were enslaved to neighboring countries, then they would cry out for God to save them. They were currently enslaved to the Romans and had been crying out for God to save them. In fact, many thought that Jesus would be the one to overthrow Rome, but Jesus had told them many times, that was not His purpose. We know that Jesus’ purpose was not to set us free from physical bondage, but from spiritual bondage.
Slaves to Sin
Now Jesus answered the logical question by saying that anyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. Jesus then told them, that the slave does not stay in the house forever, but the son remains forever. See unlike the slavery of the 1800s, slavery in Jesus’ time was not something that last for a lifetime and was not something that was restricted to any race or group of people. Instead, it was economically based, because you worked to pay off your debt. Once the debt was paid they went back to their own households. This is what Jesus was saying, that slaves were temporary members of the household to which they owed the debt, whereas the son remains forever. That is what Jesus is offering each and every one of us sonship and debt forgiveness (John 1:12). We are enslaved to sin and it’s punishment is death (Romans 6:23). But God, rich in mercy, sent Jesus to die in our place, so we could live forever in His presence. When Jesus sets you free then you will be free indeed, and Jesus tells us exactly how we can be set free. To live forever in His presence, all you have to do is to admit that you are a sinner, repent of your sins (repent means turn away), and believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sins and God raised Him from the dead, then confess Him as Lord and Savior of your life (Romans 10:9).
We see that Jesus addresses the offense that the Jews took to Him saying, they could be set free. Then He tells them, that He knows they are Abraham’s offspring, yet they still seek to kill Him. Jesus is telling them, that they are not acting as Abraham did and if they acted like him, then they would accept Jesus and His Words would find a place in them. This offends them even more, but we will study that next week. So, this week abide in God’s Word, that does not mean just reading, but dwelling on what you read and pondering its implications in your life, in the Church, and in the world. Also, remember that the whole Bible points to Jesus and He calls us into a closer relationship with Him. All people that do not know Jesus are enslaved to sin and to its punishment. So, this week share the gospel, because Jesus is the only One that can set them free, and He is the only Way to live forever.