Reformed and Free

Reformed and Free is how we like to see ourselves.  When Jesus spoke to God’s Old Testament people some two thousand years ago not all of them liked what Jesus had to say.

That is why Jesus says, 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.  Jesus, who can read the heart, knew exactly what to say.  One way to tell whom Jesus was speaking is to look at the response.  33 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”  Does it strike you as terribly naive to think that your ancestry, your job, your gifts and abilities – that all these things give you freedom?  The Jews had a very noble ancestry.  They were descendents of kings.  They were God’s chosen people.  They worshiped at God’s temple.  They were to receive the messiah.  Their Father was Abraham – they’ve never been slaves.  What could they be freed from?

We don’t have to think too long to remember a time when the Jews were enslaved, held captive, and oppressed.  Does Egypt, Moses and the parting of the red sea jog the memory?  Does 70 years in Babylon ring a bell?  How about the hated Roman legion overlooking the temple mount?  The children of Israel have a humbling history of oppression and slavery.  How could they be so blind, we wonder?

Jesus’ response to their puzzling claim shows that he is more concerned with a different kind of captivity.  It was time for the Jew to hear the truth and it would hurt.  34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you Anytime you see the phrase, Verily, verily or I tell you the truth, what come next is very important.  everyone who sins is a slave to sin.  The statement is so simple we might miss the scope of Jesus words.  Jesus is condemning the whole human race.  Earlier in chapter 3, just before Jesus tells Nicodemus John 3:16 – God so loved the world – he said the flesh gives birth to flesh.  Back in Genesis God created Adam in his own image – that is Adam was perfect, but after he fell into sin, he had children in his own sinful image.  Every child born since that time has been born sinful.  Everyone is a slave to sin.  A Roman philosopher Seneca challenged people like these Jews Show me anyone who is not a slave.  One is a slave to lust, another to greed, a third to violence, all alike to fear. 

If you don’t see yourself in the shoes of the oblivious Jews covered under Jesus’ blanket slavery statement, consider a troubled lawyer turned monk in a small German town.  Martin Luther was the opposite of the Jews.  Martin Luther knew that it was time to hear the truth.  To hear more about how and why Luther hated God watch this week’s message taken from John 8 – Reformed and Free.