John 8.31-36 Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, ‘You will be made free’?” Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.
Get ready for a reality check
This might sound like a Public Service Announcement, but it is actually a real story from my teens. I had a friend in the neighborhood, Matt. Matt lived a few streets away from me and we had been friends for years having nearly every class together in elementary school up to middle school. When we got into middle school everyone in the neighborhood noticed a change in Matt. He began really acting strangely all the time, and it turned out that Matt had started using drugs. Matt’s homelife was not easy and I suppose he did it to escape the pain. Matt really got into the drug scene very quickly and attempted to include all of us in the neighborhood, but most of us resisted. I remember one day we were playing basketball next to my house and Matt came by out of his mind on some drug. He proceeded to climb a 12 ft ladder and proclaimed he could fly, he couldn’t and fell to break his leg. All of the neighborhood crew together and separately talked to Matt about his problem, we encouraged him to quit. He didn’t think he had a problem. I told Matt one day that he had dug a grave for himself and willingly laid down alive in it. He literally punched me and told me that I knew nothing, and he was in control. We drifted apart from there and a few years later I heard that Matt had gotten so high that he stopped on a train track in his car and was killed by a train.
Jesus is talking very plainly to people who had believed in him. Jesus is offering some raw truth to them and they were struggling to receive it. Maybe it was pride, or confusion but they just couldn’t wrap their heads around what Jesus was telling them. They even had the guts to look Jesus in the eye and tell him a complete lie, especially since every Jew knew the truth. They told Jesus that they had never been slaved when in reality the entire history of the Jewish people was marked by massive periods of horrible slavery in foreign lands after they were repeatedly conquered. They proclaimed proudly that they were free because of their heritage, they didn’t have a problem that needed solving. Jesus lovingly explains the insidious trap to them. Each of them was an unwitting slave to sin. It means that they were not in control of their sin, but sin was in control of them. It was a cage without bars, and a trap that would surely take their lives eternally if they could not get free. The truth is that Jesus offered them the freedom that they really needed but the first step for them was to admit they had a problem in the first place. How sneaky the chains of sin are that we don’t even know they are there, but without Jesus we are wrapped up tightly and unable to do anything about it, but thankfully they weren’t alone, they were standing by the one holding the keys, the Son of God.
On today’s road: My friend Matt could not admit that he was a slave to the drugs, and it cost him his life, and the ripple through friends and family cannot be calculated. Jesus loves each of us enough that he tells us the hard truth, we are all slaves to sin and there is nothing we can do about it, but he can. Jesus is not willing to sit idly by and watch us sink to our deaths but extends a hand holding the keys to our freedom. Do you want to be free? Are you tired of feeling out of control with no hope of escape? Take a moment to stop on the road and listen to the voice of Jesus.