31 Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you continue in my word, you really are my disciples. 32 You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 “We are descendants of Abraham,” they answered him, “and we have never been enslaved to anyone. How can you say, ‘You will become free’?” 34 Jesus responded, “Truly I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. 35 A slave does not remain in the household forever, but a son does remain forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you really will be free. — John 8:31-36
The Promise of Truth
by Michael Card
Throughout John chapter 8, Jesus is confronted with a mixed crowd. There are the Pharisees who challenge Him in verse 13. There are the “Jews,” presumably a crowd of curiosity seekers. Curiously in verse 22 they wonder if Jesus might become the victim of suicide. Later they accuse Him of demon possession. By the end of the chapter they will try to kill Jesus by stoning, but He will slip away to safety. Presumably the twelve are present throughout the chapter as well, although they remain silent.
Then there is a small group of new followers who have just “put their faith in Him” (v.30). To this group of new followers Jesus makes four significant promises:
- Those who follow Him will never walk in darkness. (v.12)
- The Truth will set them free. (v.31)
- If the Son sets them free, they will be truly free. (v.36)
- Whoever keeps His word will not see death. (v.51)
The second promise is the most fundamental. All the others orbit around it.
Jesus promises this tiny clutch of newborn followers that if they hold to His teaching, they will know the Truth and the Truth will set them free. This is not some abstract philosophical proposition, but rather the Truth of who Jesus is: the Truth Incarnate. It is a promise first hinted at in the prologue, where John twice says Jesus is full of “grace and truth.” (1:14, 17)
In a remarkable twist, these new Jewish believers are offended by Jesus’ words. If you listen closely, He said nothing about slavery, nor even hinted they were slaves. He only promised them freedom. But somehow, they were insulted, thinking Jesus was somehow insinuating they were slaves by offering them freedom. Josephus said the Jews had an “inviolable attachment to liberty.” (Antiquities of the Jews, 18:1:6)
As important, or perhaps more so, than the content of the promise is the character of the One who makes the promise. Often those who are untrustworthy make promises to us that we are wise to disbelieve. In this case, however, the One who promised freedom by the truth is the Truth Himself. How much more reliable could any promise ever be?
- What lie have you been listening to and believing?
- What sin do you need to release and be free of?
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.