Jesus will make you free! When you’re in the midst of slavery, freedom seems like an impossible dream. But Jesus tells us that the means of our liberation is at hand. We don’t have to be slaves anymore. We can be freed from our oppression. Do you want to be made free?
You might think, “We are Americans and we are free. We declared independence from Britain on July 4th, 1776. For 241 years we have been living as free country. For over two centuries we have been having the freedoms of speech, assembly, religion, the press and others. So, freedom is very much a part of who we are as a nation.”
Well, that is exactly what the people said to Jesus in our lesson today. They were celebrating the Exodus. God had led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. And the Israelites had been free from that slavery for over 1,300 years. They were remembering how God led the Israelites through the desert and to the Promised Land. They were celebrating the manna that God gave from heaven and the water from the rock. They were camping out in booths and having BBQ and setting off fireworks.
Actually, they were lighting torches to symbolize the pillar of fire. Fireworks had not been invented yet. But they were feasting on roasted meat, just pork meat I think.
In this celebration, Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” You can understand their confusion. Hadn’t God already set them free? How could this truth set them free - again?
Jesus was not talking about freedom from the Egyptians or the Persians or the Greeks or the Romans or the British. Ooops! I am getting a little ahead of myself again. Jesus was talking about freedom from sin.
Jesus said, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.” A slave has no permanent place in the household. A slave can be sold or sent away at any time. But if the heir sets the slave free - then the slave is truly free. Jesus came as the Truth of God in the flesh to set them free if they will only believe.
The problem is that people don’t really know they are slaves. We Americans, like the disciples back then, actually think we are free. We have the freedom to live: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, freedom of the press. We also have the freedom to abandon our responsibilities to our children and family.
We are free to have premarital and extramarital relations. We are free to use drugs or engage in other addictive or dangerous behavior. We are free to ignore the needy and think only of ourselves. We are free to consume as much of the energy and material wealth as we are capable of - and then to throw away anything we don’t like.
Is that freedom? A lot of Americans think it is! But it is slavery! It is enslavement to sin. It is imprisonment in ones’ own desires and selfishness.
You can see why it is so hard to tell people that they can be free. But Jesus came so that people could be free from those things. They could be free to know God and have a loving relationship with him. They could be free to know and love their neighbor. They could be free to do wonderful things in their life to give of themselves to transform other people’s lives.
You can be free! The means of our liberation is at hand. That means of liberation is the Truth of God. And Jesus Christ is that Truth in the flesh. Jesus is here today to make you free!
Declare your independence from sin and death. Put yourself on a personal constitution of love for God and neighbor. Cast of the chains of oppression of sin of selfishness. Pledge your allegiance to Jesus and you can truly and finally be free! That is not a decision that someone else can make for you, you have to make this declaration of freedom for yourself.
It is my hope that most of you have already pledged your allegiance to Jesus. He died to make you truly free. He gave his body to be broken and his blood to be shed so you can have freedom! If you have been set free and live free. Leave behind the things that enslaved you. Go forth to glorify God in your life and to bring that truth to others.
Start at the altar today. Come for prayer and communion. This bread and this grape juice symbolize the sacrifice that sets you free. It embodies the Truth of God. And Jesus will make you free! Shalom and Amen!
Scripture: John 8:31-36