We are still in the treasury with Jesus as He addresses those who actually believed what He was saying. His first words to them are comforting, but they don’t see it that way. By the end I want to tell Him that that’s no way to “win friends and influence people.” We will be stopping short of His real bombshell today.
Jesus is never afraid to speak the truth. But He also always starts by wrapping it in love. Only when the intended message doesn’t really sink in does He have to make it a little sharper. Today is a prime example of that.
Jesus wants these “new believers” to become rooted and grounded. To become true believers and disciples. So He tells them how to get there; “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (verses 31-32). What a gift He is offering! Truth and freedom! I know I could use more of both of these in my life.
But this didn’t set well with Jesus’ new converts. Why not? What is so bad about His offer? Why did they immediately refuse it?
I believe Jesus touched on one of their “hot button” issues. The Jews were a proud people. They were slaves to no one. They owned slaves, but were not slaves themselves. They thought of themselves as free men.
Just my curiosity here, but weren’t they subject to the Romans? One step out of line and they were beat or killed in an instant. I personally don’t consider that freedom, but then that’s me; someone who lives in the United States of America.
Jesus was using analogies to help the people understand His offer to them. He used the analogy of a slave owner’s household. The son of the slave owner never loses his standing in the home. But the slave is freely bought, sold, traded, or whatever else the master desires to do with him; including setting him free. The slave has no rights or say about what becomes of him. He does whatever he is told and takes whatever punishment or treatment is meted out to him without recourse.
This crowd did not see themselves in this role! They knew it well though from the other side. I’m not implying that they were all slave owners, but they were familiar enough with the rights of a slave to be offended at the suggestion. They were after all “Children of Abraham.” A very proud people.
But Jesus knew that they were not really free, even if they weren’t physically enslaved to a master. They were spiritually enslaved to sin. This is the freedom Jesus was offering them. The same freedom He offers to each of us.
YES, we are slaves to sin without Him. He sets us free by offering us adoption. No longer do we have Satan as our father, but God adopts us as His sons and daughters, because His Son asked Him to. Only through Him can we receive adoption and kinship with God.
Those listening to Jesus that day hadn’t made that commitment of believing Jesus was Who He said He was. They were still blinded by their pride and their father. They were rejecting Jesus as God’s Son. They were not understanding His message. “Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word” (verse 43), so He took the gloves off! “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires” (verse 44). OUCH! That one stung!
Jesus called them straight up on their desire to kill Him for His words and works. He was holding nothing back by this point. He told them that they were NOT children of God, even though they claimed to be. “Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God” (verse 47). Again, OUCH! Not how to generate followers Jesus.
But Jesus never worried about the numbers. He concerned Himself with the quality of devotion to His message that His followers would display. I’m guessing the majority of those who were convinced earlier in His argument were having second thoughts about now. I wonder how many of them kept believing. How many joined His group?
Lord Jesus, You do love us into Your Kingdom. But then You work with us little by little, exposing the truth to us. Sometimes it stings. Sometimes if feels like a HUGE step forward (or backwards) that You have us take. But everything You do is designed to help us grow to be more like You every day. You offer us true freedom. Freedom from the bondage of sin. Adoption into Your family. Everlasting love. Sometimes love and the truth hurts. But you are not afraid to go where we need the most work. Thank You for Your willingness to walk with me through the hard places. Thank You that, I too, am never alone. I want to abide in You and Your word. To find more truth every day.