Jesus therefore said to those Jews that had believed him, “If ye abide in my word, then are ye truly my disciples; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32).
The cry for freedom is one of the strongest, most resounding cries of history. People appreciate the opportunity to make their own decisions and live without being in perpetual fear of the authorities. In the United States of America, few things are valued more highly than the freedoms we enjoy.
The opposites of freedom–slavery and oppression–represent the tools of tyrants, dictators, and thugs. Such tyranny might provide benefits to a few but lead to despair and misery for many. Little wonder, then, how so many desire or appreciate freedom.
The God of the Bible is a God of freedom and liberation. When the Israelites cried out under the heavy yoke of Pharaoh’s slavery, God delivered them with a strong hand out of Egypt (cf. Exodus 3:1-14:31). When foreign enemies oppressed Israel, God would deliver them (cf. Judges 2:18).
Despite their deliverance from foreign oppression and slavery, the Israelites continued to be in bondage to the spiritual forces of darkness. They served other gods other than YHWH, the One True God (2 Kings 17:7-23). They took great pride in their ancestry, and felt superior to other people; they felt as if their lineage guaranteed them a place in Heaven (Romans 2:1-29). Thus, the Israelites were not truly free, but neither was anyone else; all have sinned, and all have fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
Therefore, in order to accomplish man’s ultimate liberation, God sent His Son Jesus into the world. As part of His preaching to Israel, Jesus declared that all those who maintained His word would be His disciples, and they would know the truth, and the truth would make them free (John 8:31-32).
The Jews to whom Jesus said this found it offensive and insulting; they felt as if they were free since they were children of Abraham and not in physical bondage to any man (John 8:33). They proved blind to the Evil One who truly oppressed them and rejected the Deliverer sent by God (John 12:36-43).
Nevertheless, many from Israel and other nations have taken great comfort from Jesus’ words and the freedom He offers. The truth regarding man’s condition before God, Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and Lordship, allows all men to come to faith in Jesus as Lord and Christ and through Him to overcome sin and death (Romans 5:6-11, 8:1-8, 1 Corinthians 15:1-58). Through Jesus, God has provided everyone the opportunity to be rescued from the oppression of sin and the misery, pain, suffering, and death flowing from it. Let us be strengthened by Jesus’ words, abide in His Word, know the truth, and be set free!