Jesus is saying that if His followers abide in His Word (the Bible) they are truly His disciples. Nonetheless they are not saved by abiding in His Word, but they abide in His Word because they are saved.[i] Do you have a high view of Scripture or is it just a great story and of the same place and value as Aesop’s fables; interesting and thought provoking though they might be? Our Lord is stressing the importance of the teachings of the Bible which point us to Him who is the only One who can give us real freedom.
A Rabbi would have followers that would stay close to them so that they could learn all that they could from the teacher and put the things they learnt into practise. Jesus was pointing them back to the Old Testament which spoke and taught so clearly of Him. This book would point them to the truth which would set them free. He is the way, the truth, and the life. If you want to hear from God, then it is necessary to read the Bible and to pray that He will help you to understand it.
We live in a day and age that questions whether it is possible to know the truth or even establish whether absolute truth exists. The Lord Jesus was definite in that it is possible to know the truth and the Bible is truth and that the truth cleanses us (John 17:17). But not only does the Lord reveal truth to us; He also sets us free with His truth.
Jesus spoke to his countrymen who were descendants of Abraham and they claimed that they had never been enslaved. If they were not enslaved, then surely, they had no need to be made ‘free’. Ironically, Abraham’s descendants would be enslaved for 400 years (Genesis 15:13) and this begs the question, is it possible to think you are free when in reality you are actually enslaved?
The Bible affirms that that is the case. How did the Lord Jesus respond to the above question? “Most assuredly”, (Truly, Truly), “I say to you” (Jesus spoke with authority), “Whoever commits sin is a slave to sin.” How do we know if we have sinned? We know that we have sinned because we have broken God’s law and though we try as hard as we can, we still fail to keep it. You say “I have never committed murder or adultery”, though Jesus explained that whoever lusts after someone has already committed adultery with them in their heart and whoever is angry with another without cause is in danger of judgement.
Only Jesus consistently kept all the commandments. The apostle Paul expressed his anguish in that which he wants to do he does not do and that which he does not want to do, he does! That is why he writes, “O wretched man that I am! .Who will deliver me from this body of death? He knew that keeping the law could not save him from sin (Romans 7:13-25). Only the Lord Jesus who died in our place can save us from sin and reconcile us with God.
What do you consider constitutes real freedom? Do you seek absolute freedom or real freedom, and is there a difference, and if so, what would it look like? Imagine jumping out of a plane without a parachute. By doing that you would undoubtedly experience a high degree of freedom though it would not end well for you, those who care for you, or those who found you. A parachute may be uncomfortable, cumbersome and give you less manoeuvrability, but if you are about to exit a plane, it is your best friend. The parachute illustrates why we need laws but also something to save us and give us real freedom-the gospel. The Bible speaks of a day of judgement, so things need to be put right before we jump and exit this life.
A slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever and there is a great difference in the quality of that relationship. The Bible affirms that we can know God, be freed from sin and be free. We cannot free ourselves since no one other than the Lord Jesus was sinless and kept all the commandments all the time. The way then to be genuinely free is to trust in the God of the Bible and to become His disciple.
How can we become His disciple? We need to believe in Him and His Word. Because we are enslaved in sin, we need to go to Him to make us free. How so? By turning from our sin and trusting in Him, believing in His Word, and following Him. If we love Him, we will obey His commandments which are for our good (like a parachute), which are necessary and not a hindrance.
Only the Lord Jesus can make us free. He has paid the redemption price (the amount required to set someone free) Our Lord died in our place so that we could be free, enjoy peace with God and be delivered from our sin. If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.
Jon Taylor May 2021
[i] William MacDonald Believer’s Bible Commentary (Thomas Nelson, 1995; USA), P31