SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSONS
Commentary by Walter Albritton
Only Our Blessed Savior Jesus Christ Can Give Us Freedom
Key Verse: If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. – John 8:31-32
There is an innate yearning in the human heart to be free. Surely that desire comes from God who created us in his own image. So our eternal destiny is to enjoy the freedom to live life to the fullest or what Jesus calls “abundant life.”
Yet we are not free – until the Christ sets us free. We are bound in sin, “in nature’s night,” until Christ releases us from the power of guilt and sin. Our sinful nature has the power to control us until we choose to the greater power that is “in the blood” of the Lamb.
Our predicament is described
perfectly in that plaintive question in the song, “Would you be free from your
burden of sin?” There is no genuine freedom to be found anywhere until we
answer that song’s invitation to “come for a cleansing to
In this passage Jesus addresses angry Jews who wish to kill him. Jesus speaks the truth bluntly but with compassion. He confronts with the plain truth that they are slaves to sin. But their self-righteousness has made them blind. They cannot see “the Truth” who stands before them nor can they see the truth of his words.
When we speak of truth we cannot help but recall the words of our Lord: “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6). Not only does Jesus speak the absolute truth of God, he is the Truth.
In a very real sense Jesus is speaking of himself when he tells the Jews, “the truth will make you free.” The freedom we seek from sin is not found so much in “words” as it is found in “the Word,” Jesus Christ, who was “made flesh” to save us from our sins. Our freedom is wrapped up in Jesus and we become free only by falling at his feet and embracing him as our liberating Savior.
Look carefully at what Jesus tells the Jews. He says their problem is that “there is no place in you for my word.” We need to examine our hearts at this point. To be fully free we must choose to give Christ more than “a place” in our hearts; we must give him “first place.”
Giving Christ first place means to embrace the truth that when Jesus speaks, it is God the Father who is speaking. John wants us to understand that Jesus was not merely a good man, or a wise man; he was God. This is made perfectly clear by the profound statement Jesus makes to the Jews: “Very truly, I tell you, before Abraham was, I am”! He was much more than a great teacher of truth; he was truth. He was the great I AM.
To their credit the Jews to whom Jesus spoke had believed in him but only to a point. They balked at Jesus’ idea that they were slaves to sin. In their minds they had no need for help from anyone, much less Jesus.
When Jesus told them they could be his disciples “if you continue in my word,” they had no further use for him. They had no place at all for Jesus. To them Jesus was demon-possessed and a liar. Grabbing up stones, they would have stoned Jesus to death on the spot had he not slipped away from them.
The lesson for us is that our freedom also depends upon our staying with Jesus. Release comes from staying the course with him. There is no real freedom apart from Jesus. None of us can expect to be free or remain free unless we stay on with Jesus through thick and thin.
We are truly his disciples only when Jesus is the Center of our lives and nothing matters more than knowing, loving, and serving him. This is true because the very nature of true Christianity is a personal relationship with Jesus. Until we have that we have nothing but “religion” and there is no freedom or salvation in religion.
What the Jews had was religion or knowledge about God, a God Jesus said they did not even know. Knowing God was their need but they were too blind to see that the God they needed to know was standing in front of them!
I have known a few people for whom Jesus was everything. To be in their presence made me aware of the presence of Christ. They were in Christ and Christ was in them. They were living and speaking in a contagious harmony with Christ. The more I observed their lives, the more I wanted to model mine after theirs so that I might experience the intimacy they seemed to have with Jesus.
All of this reminds me of life’s two great questions: !) Do you know him? and 2) Are you sharing him with others? Christ sets us free from slavery to sin not simply so we can go to heaven but so we can truly know him, and knowing him so intimately that we are compelled to introduce him to others. The two words that best describe this kind of living are joyful obedience – an attitude of heart characteristic of people Christ has set free. May the Lord hear and answer our prayers for such a heart!
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