Whose Child Are You?
Loving Lord, open my eyes to see, my lips to praise, my hands to serve, and my feet to obey.
Read JOHN 8:31-41
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
A disciple is a Christian who is involved with the Word on an ongoing basis. That does not lead to bondage. Rather, continual application of the truth of Scripture leads to freedom (32).
Despite the interest shown in Jesus (31), it becomes clear as our reading progresses that these Jews are unwilling to accept the deeper truths about Jesus. The division and tension continue to mount.
Jesus begins by informing the “believing Jews” that true discipleship means holding to his teaching and that, in so doing, they will know the truth and they will be free (31,32). They are offended and respond by claiming that descent from Abraham means that they have never been slaves. Of course, on a literal level, this was not true. Political subjection was a fact of Jewish history, and even as they spoke, the Jews were subject to the power of Rome. But in this verse Jesus challenges a widely held assumption of Jewish privilege and security. Their slavery was of a different order altogether: it was a slavery to sin (Rom. 6:16-18; 8:2). Freedom was possible, however, because the Son of the house had the right to declare a slave to be free (35,36). Jesus does not deny their physical descent, but their desire to kill him and their refusal to listen to his words mean that their true spiritual father is not who they proudly claimed (38-41). The offense and the tension are heightening as they understand perfectly well what Jesus is saying (41). If Abraham is not their father, then they cannot belong to God’s people.
Jesus bravely speaks out against their confidence that their religious heritage guarantees their status as children of God. As Paul will go on to argue, true lineage from Abraham is a matter of faith and any claim to heritage or spiritual privilege is always open to question (Gal. 3:7-9; Rom. 9:6-8). We need another spiritual health check. Any claim to spiritual heritage is irrelevant if we are not listening to Jesus and holding to his teaching.
“Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother” (Matt. 12:50). Can this always be said of you? Obedience is a sign of true discipleship.
Father, words from an old hymn ring in my ears, “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey” (John H. Sammis, 1846-1919). I want to trust and obey!
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