Freedom, but not the cliche kind.
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.”
John 8:31-32 ESV
The book of John is a good one. If you follow me long enough you will come to find that I will probably say that about a lot of books, but for real, John is a good one. The first chapter gets me all kinds of giddy because it talks about how in the beginning there was Jesus,
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” John 1:1-3
I just love a good cross reference and here we have John, the son of Zebedee-Jew/one of the 12/a member of Jesus’s inner circle/the disciple whom Jesus loved/the man in which Jesus trusted his mother to at the cross/Jesus’s all around most likely bff, is discussing Genesis… the beginning. He is making the statement that we might sometimes forget, that Jesus was there, just as he has always been, at the beginning of creation.
If you continue reading in John you will come across the testimony of John the Baptist, the calling of the disciples, the wedding at Cana where Jesus performed his first miracle; and that is all in just chapters one and two! Moving right along there are multiple signs that Jesus is who he says he is, the Messiah, as well as many of his first teachings. Because I am a teacher by nature and can’t help myself, I’m outlining some things for you below:
· Chapter 3
Salvation- you must be born of the Spirit. Here, Jesus tells Nicodemus that in order to enter into the kingdom of God you must be born again. Not rebirthed from your mother’s womb, but born of the Spirit. If you go back to chapter 1 it says, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”
John 1:12-13. It is important to see here that salvation does not come from flesh/blood/man, but from God. That is what Jesus was explaining to Nicodemus, a ruler of Jews, who strictly lived by Mosaic Law, that HE was the sacrifice that was made and the only way to heaven was through faith in him.
If that is not clear enough, we have one of the most famous verses in all of Scripture, John 3:16. John 3:16 is a verse worth memorizing for sure, but so are the ones that follow. It tells us that God sent his Son to save the world, that whoever believes in him will not be condemned but have life everlasting with Him.
John 3 is our assurance that Jesus is who he says he is and that he sacrificed his life so that we might not be condemned for eternity, but spend it with the Lord if we choose to accept him.
· Chapter 4
The story of the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus asked for water to quench his thirst, and he offered her living water to seal her salvation.
Jesus heals the Official’s Son, this was Jesus’s second sign that he was who he said he was—the Truth, the Messiah.
· Chapter 5
Jesus heals on the Sabbath, equates himself to God, and discusses his, the Son’s, authority. These events are important because they are preparing the pathway to his death and resurrection. They are affirming that he is the fulfillment of Old Testament prophesy. He is the metaphorical lamb in the flesh. Throughout Jesus’ teachings he uses “already” and “not yet” to explain prophesies that have “already” been fulfilled, and those that have “not yet” been fulfilled.
§ My ESV Systematic Theology Study Bible has great little nuggets of wisdom called “Theology for Life”. I love the explanation of 5:24-29, “The time between the “already” and the “not yet” is the most exciting time in world history thus far. We already have been “born again to a living hope” through Jesus’ resurrection (1 Peter 1:3), but we will struggle with sin and suffering until his return brings the resurrection and the new earth.
· Chapter 6
Jesus feeds the five thousand. You remember this story: one boy, five loaves of bread, and two fish. Jesus performs another miracle by feeding a lot of people with very little and having food left over.
Jesus walks on water.
Jesus explains that he is the Bread of Life and that he is, “the bread that came down from heaven” John 6:42, bread that when eaten will give eternal life.
· Chapter 7
The Feast of the Booths. Here Jesus goes up to the temple and begins teaching. The Jews are amazed because Jesus has not “formally” studied. Jesus answers their astonishment by telling that what he is teaching isn’t of him, but of God. Again, affirming that he is the Truth, the Son of God.
The remainder of the chapter we have people questioning if he is the Christ, officers sent to arrest Jesus, an invitation to the Living Water, and a division among the people.
Finally, finally we are at chapter 8. A woman is caught in adultery and Jesus says those famous words, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her” John 8:7. Men wanted to stone her and Jesus saved her life all while teaching a lesson. He does not condemn her, but he does tell her to “go and sin no more” v.11. I’m sure you are wondering why I’ve given all the background information if I just want to talk to you about two verses. I wanted to paint a picture and show you the importance of context. If we just scoop these two verses up you miss all the richness of the words. Previously to these verses we have miracles performed, and instances where Jesus is affirming that he is who he says he is. The truth here is Jesus. In all of these stories Jesus isn’t healing and then allowing people to go back to their old ways, no, he is healing and performing these things in order for people to follow HIM. The picture being painted here is that Jesus was here from the beginning. He always was and always will be; he came into the world in human form to then fulfill promises made by God over and over again. To abide in God’s Word means to believe what it says is true and then to walk in obedience to him. The truth John is talking about is
continuing to believe and obey God’s Word and then you can be free from the enslaving power of sin. It is not saying that we are free to live anyway we want to, but free of the bindings of sin once we accept Jesus and walk in his truths. I really want to drive in the point that in all of these stories, people believed and then they walked in that belief. We are free once we have believed in the saving power of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, but it is vital that we continue to obey and walk in his light and truth. The world wants us to believe that we are free when we get to a point of self-love or self-acceptance, but that is not the Gospel. Our freedom is in Christ. We are free once we surrender to His will for our lives. I know it is a strange concept, surrender = freedom, but it is true. Surrender to the truth of Jesus and walk in obedience to him, and you will experience a freedom you did not know was possible. Praying that you can know this type of freedom today. If you want to chat more, shoot me a message!