As we have read repeatedly in the last two chapters, we see again in John 8:30, 30 Even as he spoke, many believed in him.
Then Jesus shared this powerful truth:
31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
This passage points out that while belief is important, belief alone is insufficient. If I’m completely honest, I don’t like the implications of this passage. I want to just believe and know I’m ok. Unfortunately, I see a similar warning in James 2:19, where we’re told, “Even the demons believe – and shudder.”
Now Jesus has my attention. If belief alone isn’t enough, what does He expect? I interpret these two verses as Jesus giving his followers a series of If .. Then conditions:
- If you hold to my teaching (which I interpret as meaning: you need to live your life like Jesus told you and demonstrated to you).
- Then you are really my disciples (meaning, you’re not really His follower unless you do what He told you to do.)
- If you are really my disciples, then you will know the truth. (This suggests to me that people can’t even understand the truth unless they are really Jesus’ disciples.)
- Finally, when one knows the truth, the truth will set them free.
The believers Jesus was talking to had the same reaction I tend to have. Wait a minute, set me free? I’m not a slave.
Jesus went on to say that anyone who sins is a slave to sin, and Jesus came to set people free from sin.
This is really interesting to me. As members of a denomination that claims to have the faith of Abraham, we may tend to think we have a corner on the market for faith and truth. But how focused are we on the holiness message Jesus is sharing in this passage? This should challenge us.
Verses 35 and 36 go on to say, 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
I don’t know about you, but I want a permanent place in God’s family. But to have that place, I need to be set free – first, from sin, and ultimately from death.
This requires adding to belief:
- Following Jesus’ teaching
- Becoming his disciple
- Knowing the truth
- Having Him set me free.
Sign me up! How about you?