So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in 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’?” (John 8: 31-33)
This post will be more of a cursory glance over the remainder of the chapter, in my series I’ve attempted on the Gospel of John. Continuing where we left off in the previous post, we begin today at verse 31. You may have noticed that I’ve done three posts now on just this chapter, and it’s because I felt there was such depth of material that I had some thoughts to share on just these portions and needed to give attention to each one.
We reach an interesting interaction between Jesus and the religious leaders. When Jesus told the Pharisees here to abide in His Word, He was not talking about reading a book (see previous post What Is The Word of God? for more on my thoughts). Christ was speaking of feeding on Him, continually, not just reading words on a parchment or in a leather bound book. Doing so not only results in a spring of living water that comes out from within us and feeds and refreshes others, but it also sets us free. The strength of this nourishment results in bondages being broken and deception being counter-acted. The truth destroys all pretenses and deceptions, and sets one free.
The context Jesus was speaking of here was freedom specifically from sin. Light (fire) casts out all darkness. The fact that Jesus rightly points out to them that his Word, whether in seed form or in full fruition, doesn’t abide in them, is because the opposite abides instead; sin. If His Word did have a place in them, then the fire shut up in their bones it would produce, would do nothing other than consume that which cannot abide in His holy fire, for His presence is an all consuming fire (Deut 4:24). His fiery truth burns up the dross of deception, and therefore the sin, lies, and murderous intentions were evidence that His Word–His fire–had no place in them, the very ones who gave themselves to study of God’s written law! Merely studying the Bible alone does not make one free.
Since the alternative, the darkness, abided in them instead, this is why they were even merely capable of seeking to kill him, let alone seeking and plotting to actually go through with their evil intentions. Those thorn seeds had grown to enough fruition in their hearts, that they were able to plot such against a pure and spotless man, and yet believed they were doing something honorable and noble in the name of their faith.
The seed of their father, the tare, had sufficiently grown in close proximity to the wheat, that on the surface they may have looked identical, but the presence of the Light of the World brought to the surface the dross, and demonstrated what manner they were really from–their father the wicked one.
Reader, remember with me, that according to verses 12, and 21, Jesus was still speaking publicly in the same location and timeframe as when the woman caught in adultery had been brought before him. Tension was probably still already high.
They said to him therefore, “Where is your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” (v. 19)
Who are they of?
He said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.” (v. 23-24)
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. (v.39-40)
If you want to drive people from merely contemplating killing you to actually plotting to do it, just tell them they are from Satan!
Abiding in the Word of God is clearly then not just about studying a book, the Bible, because these men did just that, and were the devout radical religious men of their time and they sought to kill the man Jesus. I am not as well versed in the Torah as others may be, but I’m pretty sure killing Jesus, the Son of God was in violation of their own laws, but I could just be interpreting it wrong. These men sought to kill and destroy, which resembles nothing of the spirit of God, but more that which is from below (James 3:13-18). The spirit of religion, the law, kills but the Spirit gives life.
That which is religion cannot provide life because it is by default in contradiction to the Spirit of Life. I submit to you for consideration that religion can read The Book but not necessarily walk in His presence, since it’s void of the life and can masquerade in the absence of true presence. You can’t hide dross when the fire touches it. It’s dissolved by then. You cannot hide lies in the midst of The man who is Truth.
Lies are always threatened by the truth and will always use their best weapon — lies– in order to try stopping Him.
But the truth will set you free!