We have been going through the Gospel of John picking out the passages with “verily, verily” (also rendered “truly, truly” or “I tell you the truth”, etc., in other versions) that John recorded Jesus saying. I am searching out the truths that Jesus taught and practically applying these principles and lessons to my own life where I can and with His help.
This next “Verily, verily” statement is found within the passage of chapter 8, verses 33 through 38. It reads:
33 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’?” 34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave [servant] to sin. 35 The slave [servant] does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. 38 I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.” (ESV)
This portion of text can be further brought into context by reading all of the passage surrounding it in John 8:31-47. This was a genuine conversation between Jesus and the Jews that believed on Jesus. These particular Jews were engaging in a student-teacher dialogue in a way that reveals that they believe what Jesus says is the truth, but they haven’t fully committed to that truth. They seem to be caught between the natural ways of thinking and the spiritual. Naturally, they were descendants of Abraham. However, spiritually, they were not living the example Abraham lived, the principles he taught to his children and children’s children, nor observing the commands of his God (YHWH).
Jesus was revealing the profound truth that if you sin, you will have to live through the consequences. Also, if you sin, you are already being coerced by sin. We are trapped by sin, beaten down by past mistakes, and choked by desires we know are wrong. Sin has a way of enslaving us, controlling us, dominating us, and dictating our actions. However, Jesus can free us from this slavery that keeps us from becoming the person God created us to be.
Now, the word ‘sin’ can be used in two ways: as a noun and as a verb. As a noun, “Thomas Nelson” defines it as, “an offense or revolt against God (as Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden); deliberate defiance; wickedness;iniquity; ungodliness.” Similarly, as a verb, “Thomas Nelson” says, “to commit an offense against God; to be wicked.” The words that stand out to me in these definitions are “against God“. Going against His commands, principles and precepts are egregious and costly.
Jesus gives an example through Abraham’s first two sons, Ishmael and Isaac. Ishmael was the son of Hagar, the servant that birthed Abraham’s first son. However, Isaac was the son of Abraham’s wife, and she gave birth to the heir of Abraham, Isaac. Genesis 21:8-12 recalls the details. Jesus is hearkening back to the son of the slave/servant was sent out of the house, and the son that was the legal heir (being the son of the legal wife) was kept in the house. This was an example in the natural that Jesus was teaching to the Jews to help them understand a spiritual lesson.
Here Jesus is, standing before them teaching them the truth in its fullness everywhere He goes and to whomever He speaks. He is the true Son and heir. He is truly the Son of God as well as the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He is the long awaited Messiah that they all have been waiting for. However, they still doubted. They were still of the unsure mindset. So, Jesus continued to teach, but the Jews still kept getting hung up on the their natural lineage coming from Abraham yet missing the point. They were not doing what Abraham did and that is to believe and obey God [YHWH].
We make choices nearly all of the time, whether big or small. We can choose to believe in the Son of God, Jesus, and live out His example and truths. Later on, Paul writes to the Galatians, and he uses this same example of son-ship in verse 26 of Galatians 3 to explain that we are sons of God “through faith”. Galatians 3:21-29 reiterates that the law is the line in the sand so to speak. The law shows us where we should be spiritually and the principles we should follow. Like a billboard, it informs us, but the sign itself does not save us. The principle being taught – faith in Jesus – is what saves and frees us. And it does not matter where you descended from naturally. What matters is our relationship with Jesus. Is our relationship with Him strong? Or is our relationship merely for show (as in we tell others that we have a relationship with Him yet we don’t fully believe that we are forgiven)? Or do we reject Him completely?
Christians are those who believe inwardly and outwardly that Jesus’ death has allowed God to offer them forgiveness and eternal life as a gift. They have accepted that gift through faith and are seeking to live a life of obedient gratitude for what God has done for them. Jesus frees those that were slaves to sin.
Gotta go fill up my cup…..