If one converts spiritually from one lens in seeing the world around them to another it is not an easy step. It is even harder if the person changed in their thinking is surrounded by people with an ideology that is hostile to the new one. Such was the odd thing where a silent minority of the crowd in the temple believed in him with a hostile majority there.
Because he spoke this way, many came to believe in him (John 8:30)
In such a pivotal moment, Jesus wanted to reach out to those that he knew had just had a pivot in their hearts and speak to them of basic principles for spiritual formation. Also, there could be a hope that those who were not taking in what is said would have something to remember Jesus by when the gospel story would later be played out. Even more would one day believe.
Jesus then said to those Jews who believed in him,“If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How can you say, ‘You will become free’?” Jesus answered them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. A slave does not remain in a household forever, but a son always remains. So if a son frees you, then you will truly be free. I know that you are descendants of Abraham. But you are trying to kill me, because my word has no room among you. I tell you what I have seen in the Father’s presence; then do what you have heard from the Father.” (John 8:31-38).
If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples- “If” is a key word. Going forward, his disciples always have free will and God’s will is never imposed but to proposed. Every day a disciples of Jesus has a proposal to take up their own cross, their own experience of humility, and follow him.
and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free- and believing with surrender leads to understanding in a way that illuminates the heart with grace. This is why “grace and truth were realized in Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). With these spiritual elements together in an encounter with Christ there is freedom starting with the acknowledgment that there is such a thing as sin.
We are descendants of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone– And now back to the skeptics. The minimize what Jesus has to say based on an objective fact. A second later Jesus even affirms that they are right about the fact but wrong on the significance they give it. They area each saying they are good with God as a matter of DNA. Jesus brings it back to what they are doing and how that what matters in staying in his word.
everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin– I often repeat story to my clients who are in addiction recovery from Margret Thatcher. She was in the early stages of Alzheimers and was asked how she felt about it. Her response was “Do not ask me about my feelings. Ask me about what I believe and what I do. That is how you will know who I am and what I am about.” These cynics were about feeling righteous but not doing the real works of righteousness let alone discerning it. Furthermore, they believed in the direction away from surrender.
A slave does not remain in a household forever, but a son always remains- The paradox is that this transcendent, celestial word is not flaky but grounding. Jesus had said he does what his Father says. The effects of sin seem stable, but really in the end they are destabilizing to the human person and dignity. One who is in complete sonship to the Father always has a home in the implication of what is said here even if they feel that they started as a slave.
So if a son frees you, then you will truly be free- GK Chesterton had a good point about freedom. “When is a train most free? On it’s tracks”. Sonship in the household of faith is what all of mankind were made for and can go forward according to divine purpose in surrender to the yoke that is anything but slavery. But one must accept the power of the Son.
But you are trying to kill me, because my word has no room among you- And now he lays down the hammer. In this visit to Jerusalem Jesus does not demonstrate the supernatural much but he does here with divine knowledge. He knows their intent with sending the guards. They wanted to do a kangaroo court and get him killed. Jesus was fine with that in the right time. For now, he calls them on their evil without sugarcoating. He said it because they needed it.
I tell you what I have seen in the Father’s presence- Truth has consequences. All the world is ultimately commanded by God to repent. And what we hear from Jesus we hear from the Father just as for those that see Jesus, see the Father (John14:7). All things considered, Jesus is just warming up. Relax cynics. It gets worse!