A daily devotion for January 24th
Dispute Over Whose Children Jesus’ Opponents Are
31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
33 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”
34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word. 38 I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father.”
39 “Abraham is our father,” they answered.
“If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do what Abraham did. 40 As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. 41 You are doing the works of your own father.”
“We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.”
42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. 43 Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! 46 Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47 Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”
Jesus’ Claims About Himself
48 The Jews answered him, “Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?”
49 “I am not possessed by a demon,” said Jesus, “but I honor my Father and you dishonor me. 50 I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. 51 Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.”
52 At this they exclaimed, “Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that whoever obeys your word will never taste death. 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?”
54 Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. 55 Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and obey his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”
57 “You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!”
58 “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” 59 At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said,If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.(John 8:31-32)
What a wonderful word! It constitutes a short course in discipleship. But it is more than that. It is a declaration that discipleship is the only true path to freedom, to being all that you were meant to be. If you want that, then Jesus says the way is to become his disciple. This is the path to freedom. It is the only way to be all that you want to be.
Here Jesus tells us in precise detail how to be free. It begins with belief:
Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him. They had not yet trusted him, but they had believed him. They had been intellectually grasped by his arguments and his words, but they had not yet committed themselves to him. Discipleship begins with belief; even intellectual belief; they were there at the door, at the first step.
Then, he says,
if you continue in my word. Listen to Jesus. Compare what he says with your own experience. Does what he says agree with what you have found to be true in living life? The test of any religion is not whether it is pleasing, or whether you enjoy it. The test is:
Is it true? Does it accord with life? Does it fit what is happening? Does it explain what is going on? That is the test, and that you can only establish as you continue in his word, as you think long and deeply, read fully and frequently. Jesus suggests here that when you do that something will happen to you:
If you continue in my word, you will truly be my disciple. If you read his word and you continue in it, somewhere along the line a crisis will occur. You will find that his words have grabbed you, and you will commit yourself to him, and then you are really a disciple.
Then, he says,
You will know the truth. What an objective! Everybody wants to know the truth. Nobody likes to be taken in by a con artist. What then is the truth? Again I come back to what underlies all of life: Truth is the nature of things as they really are. Truth is seeing through all the illusions, the dreams and the wishful thinking, all the facades and the unreal images, and getting down to the heart, the core, the reality—that which really is. That is the truth.
Finally, Jesus promises that when you launch into this program, when you follow him, hear his word, and continue in it, a wonderful thing will happen—
the truth will set you free. The truth will deliver you, permit you to be all that you were meant to be. What does it free us from? When we put it into practical terms, it frees us from all our hang-ups that keep us from being all that we were meant to be. To be hung up means you cannot move, that you are bound and limited by something, unable to free yourself. Hang-ups are the same for everybody, everywhere. Fear is probably the biggest one. Being afraid, worried, anxious, insecure, timid, constantly threatened by anxiety. Then there is anger or hostility, a hatred, aggressiveness and rage that keeps you striking out at everybody. Then there is guilt. Millions of people suffer inwardly from a terrible sense of failure, of shame about things in their past. Pride is another hang-up; a proud, aggressive, arrogant spirit that indulges in rank prejudice and bigotry; an aloofness and withdrawing from others, with its accompanying loneliness. Do you see how practical all these things are? This is what Jesus is talking about.
His wonderful promise is that there is a way out.
Bring them to me, he tells us.
Bring them to me. Listen to my words. Look at life as I see it and a wonderful thing will happen: there will be a change in you. You will be given a life that you never had before, and you will begin to be freed from your hang-ups. That is the promise of Jesus.
Lord, I want to experience the freedom you promise. Help me to continue in your word and learn your truth so that can be a reality in my life.
Life Application: Do we passively accept worldly media's definition of 'freedom'? Do we seek first the Kingdom of God where we learn the Truth about who we are that sets us free?
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