“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.’”1  And then “the Jews who had believed him” proceeded to argue with Jesus—even though they “believed him.” In this particular scenario, they argued about . . . you know what? It doesn’t really matter what they argued about. For at this point, we must concede that we are very much like these Jews. When God speaks to us about something, we often have a comeback: Yeah, but . . . or I know, I know. And we proceed to argue our case—as if God does not understand our situation or he does not know the whole truth about it.

     Anyway. Back to the story. These “Jews who had believed him” had a great case to argue. When Jesus told them that the truth would set them free, they promptly told Jesus they did not need to be set free. Their evidence was irrefutable. They were descendants of Abraham and children of God and had “never been enslaved to anyone.”2  I guess they were overlooking the 400 years the Israelites were slaves to the Egyptians! But anyway, they were certainly free now! So, Jesus’ message was irrelevant to them.

     The truth for the Jews was that they believed Abraham and the law was all they needed to live a good and godly life.  They were offended that Jesus questioned them and called them slaves and liars and even murderers! After all, they were good people—really good people! They looked at Jesus and arrogantly asked, “Who do you think you are?”3

     And I think many people today respond in the same way. They believe certain things and consider God as a threat to their freedom to think a different truth. They have countless arguments about why God’s truth is not only irrelevant to them, they consider God and all Christians as an affront, an insult that cuts them to the core, and they defiantly point their fingers at Christians and wave their fists at God and yell out, “Who do you think you are?”

     Many people have a twisted view of God. They think God is trying to take away their freedom. When actually the opposite is true. Jesus came to set us free. But we also have a twisted view of freedom. We think it has to do with our rights to be who we want to be, live how we want to live, and express ourselves in any manner that aligns with our true inner being. Many people are enslaved to their “freedom.” As we all once were. And as we all still are. We battle with our “freedom” all the time!

     Paul explains it so well. “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”4 The freedom that we are all longing for is the freedom and the power to say No to the things that promise freedom, but, instead, enslave us. If we want to be free, however, we must first admit that we are slaves. Paul cried out, “Who will deliver me from this body of death?”5  It is an agonizing state to be in—enslaved to our freedom.

     Jesus knew the struggle for the Jews, that they were enslaved to the law. And he lovingly told them, “The truth will set you free.”6  But they didn’t get it. It didn’t make sense to them. They did not want to give up their truth. They held on to it tightly. They believed they were already free and could not listen to what Jesus was saying. Jesus saw it. He told them, “You cannot bear to hear my word.”7  He even pointed out to them “you seek to kill me.”8 But they kept arguing: “Are we not right?”9

     The story ends quite sadly.  The Jews “picked up stones to throw at him.”10  And proudly stood their ground. And maintained the rights to their freedom because they believed they had “never been enslaved to anyone.” And never would be! And they refused to believe the truth that they were already enslaved, and Jesus really did come to set them free.

1John 8:31   2John 8:33   3John 8:53 NIV   4Romans 7:15   5Romans 7:24   6John 8:32   7John 8:43   8John 8:40   9John 8:48   10John 8:59

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