Sometimes we get to the teaching of Jesus and wonder what he was saying to us. What is he wanting us to learn? In this
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
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’?”
Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.”
They answered him, “Abraham is our father.”
Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did.You are doing the works your father did.”
They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father — even God.”
Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”
The Jews answered him, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?”
Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge. Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.”
The Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.’ Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?”
Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.”
So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?”
Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”
So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.
John 8:31–59 (ESV)
Truth and Freedom
Jesus made this strong point: everyone who sins is a slave to sin. It is a subtle lie that tells us that when we sin, we are ‘doing what we want to.’ Sin is a deadly habit, not an innocent blunder.
We are free from sin when Jesus sets us free. When you hold to Jesus’ teaching — abide in his word — then you are free from sin. It is the truth of God’s Word that sets you free. And you can read more about this truth right here.
Faith, Privilege and Promises
When we follow Jesus, we are living in the faith of Abraham. Abraham is the most frequently cited example of faith in the New Testament. Abraham heard God’s word and believed.
He held to that belief over time, despite difficult and even impossible circumstances and through extreme testing. That belief defined righteousness.
He was also given great promises!
Notice what God told him:
Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.
Genesis 12:1–2 (ESV)
There was a great demand upon him to get up and leave his home but an equally great promise for blessing.
When we live by the faith of Abraham we recognize the truth of the words of Jesus and then live in the privilege of Abraham. We are tuned into God’s voice and have a simple and comprehensive faith that realizes the promises of God.
Jesus is the ‘I am’! His statement refers to Moses encounter with God at the burning bush recorded in Exodus 3.
While the words are simple, this is a complex etymology that ends up being commonly rendered Yahweh. It means he is the self-existent one. Jesus’ claim here is a clear self-declaration of divinity.
When we accept this, we begin to comprehend the nature of God (the Trinity) and elevate the words of Jesus to a special place in God’s Word. It allows us to see a powerful consistency in scripture and understand all New Testament writers in complete harmony with the words of Jesus.
The aftermath of this statement reveals the power of God’s sovereignty. Jesus simply hid himself from a very hostile crowd. They would have spontaneously stoned him as they did Steven a few years later. But it was not God’s time nor was it the method by which he was to die.
We are called to live by faith in the privileges and promises issued to God’s people, like Abraham. Failure to do so can only be attributed to our unwillingness to believe. God is always good on his promises.