31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 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’?”
Bad news: you are a slave to sin. Good news: you can be set free.
The Jews in this passage do not receive this amazing gift of freedom. Why?
- pride - They don’t want to admit that they are slaves. They can't admit they are wrong. Are you able to admit your sin? Are you able to acknowledge your weakness?
- reaction to God's word - v37, 43, 47, v51 They looked respectable but because they did not hear God’s word they were looking to kill Jesus instead of receiving his gift of freedom. What is your attitude to the Bible? Do you put yourself in authority over it?
- ancestry/heritage (v33,39) - They were proud to be sons of abraham and so couldn't possibly be slaves to sin. Your religious heritage does not set you free, your parent’s faith does not set you free, time served in church does not set you free. You can have all that but ignore the truth, and still be enslaved to sin.
- moral superiority - with a sly reference to Jesus parentage in v41, they reveal their confidence in their own moral behaviour. Do we look on our behaviour as a stamp of approval? Or proof that we are not enslaved? Can you bear the idea of admitting you are morally bankrupt?
The idea of being slaves to sin is so terrible to them that they are resorting to saying Jesus is demon-possessed even though none of them can convict him of sin!
In v58, Jesus says I AM. He reveals his divinity which should result in rejoicing in their new-found freedom. Instead, they try to kill him. They were happy with a Jesus who gave them stuff, healed them, did what they liked. They were not happy with the holy God-man who shone a light on the darkness that is inside them.
You are a slave. You can be free. Don’t miss the freedom because you can’t bear to admit that you are enslaved.