12.5 John – Real Freedom

John closes chapter 8 with Jesus’ words to us, a new audience of believers. While our reading on the back page starts with John 8:31, I think it should have started with 8:30. “Even as he spoke, many believed in him.” To those who believed him he said…”

What follows are the keys to freedom and a glimpse of the true freedom even as the prisoners all around him continued to argue that their beautifully decorated prison cells were what freedom looked like.

Jesus provides the 3 steps to true freedom in verses 31,32:

  1. Be my disciples. For clarity, he even helps distinguish here between real disciples and false/not-real disciples. Being a disciple of Jesus is not a matter of saying some words or trying really hard to do good or being born a certain way or anything like that. Being a real disciple is letting go of everything else we think we know and holding on to his teaching. That means putting faith completely in Him.
  2. Know the truth. The only path to knowing the truth is to become a disciple. Faith leads to knowledge, not the other way around. Believing is seeing. The truth is the core message of the gospel, the truly good news, that God loves us so much that the Father sent Jesus to become a man and die, even though he had no sin, to pay the price to redeem us from our sin and adopt us to be His children for all eternity.
  3. The truth will set you free.

But what does it mean to be free? We get a small glimpse of it in verses 56 and 58.

“V 56. Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.” The word translated as rejoiced is the Hebrew word agalliaō. This word, in turn, is a combination of two words, agan and hallomai. Agan mean much or very much. Hallomai means to leap, to spring up or gush up like a geyser of water.

Jesus tells us that Abraham was “leaping very much” at the very thought of seeing Jesus’ coming. This reminds me of the description Elizabeth gave for the reaction of John the Baptist in her whom when she said he skipped at the presence of Jesus in Mary’s womb.

Jesus goes on to say that in faith Abraham experienced (saw it) the promise of Jesus coming to earth and was glad. The word for glad is chairō, which is more commonly translated as rejoiced (42x vs 14x as glad).

One of the few other places in the bible these two words are together is Revelation 19:7, where the great multitude of heaven in a voice that roared like rushing waters cries out “Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready”

As Jesus further states in v58, the prompting for both of these events, past and future, was believers standing in the presence of God, the I am. And, yet, on that day, in that temple in Judea, the people stood in the presence of the I am, they did not rejoice and they were not glad. They were dead on the insides and rejected true freedom found only in Jesus.

But I say, not me. I’m looking forward to some leaping. I’m looking forward to rejoicing and joining the multitude in breaking some decibel level records! I’m looking forward to experiencing fully the marriage of Jesus with the church.

My Answers:

11.
a.

physical death is not victorious over those who follow the word of Jesus to believe in Him

b.

Abraham rejoiced in his faith in God and the promises/covenants of God. He saw this day through the eyes of faith.

12.
a.

It is the name of God given to Moses at the burning bush. It means that Jesus is calling himself God

b.

It is all the difference. Jesus was a real man. He either said these things or he didn’t. The argument cannot be made that he was a good teacher or prophet. Teachers and prophets do not claim to be God. He either was God or wasn’t. If he was, then God came to this earth and shed his own blood for the redemption of my sin. That is what makes real life.

 

12.4 John – Freedom from Sin

Where does sin originate? It is everywhere in the world. It is in every person. It is in the messages we communicate in every forum. It is in music and art. It is in pollution and poison. It is in every person and every person practices in it. It was in our fathers and mothers, grandparents and great grandparents.

But that had not always been the way. Adam and Eve were made in God’s own image. Upon creation of man, God said it was “very good” (Gen 1:31) and afterwards He rested. Adam and Eve walked daily with God and there was no sin. But they made a choice. They chose disobedience. They chose to bring sin into the world. It has been passed down ever sense.

The Jews that Jesus spoke with took great pride in their ancestry. Through birthright, they inherited all the promises and covenants that God gave to Abraham. They were the children of Abraham and he was their father. Their god was the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. Their holy scripture was written by Moses.

But all of those ancestors were sinners, just like they were and just like you and I are today. If sin is inherited, then how can one prisoner to sin (one sinner) ever set another prisoner free?

Again, in our passage today, Jesus provides the answer to this problem. He is not of this world. Jesus is from Heaven. His Father is God in heaven. He is not born in to sin, He is free. He is outside of the prison. He, and he alone can set us free.

He offers us freedom through adoption. He offers to make us His brothers, children of the Father God. V35. A slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever.

In v 25., the people around him asked the question, “Who are you?”. While it is right to seek to grow in an understanding of God, something we do every week through bible study, this was the wrong question then and it is the wrong question now. The question is not, Who are you, God?, but Who am I? Am I standing on the foundation of sinful men or am I standing on the righteousness of Jesus? Am I defined by my sin or by the holy spirit that resides in me? Am I a body with a soul or a soul with a body? Do I want to be set free or do I want to decorate my prison cell and lie to myself and others that this is what freedom looks like?

My Answers:

9.
a.

freedom from sin. The only way to receive it is to hold to Jesus teachings, to believe in Him. In his teaching is truth and the truth is what sets us free (not our works)

b.

Freedom from daily worry. This is not to say I do not have concerns and compassion for others challenges, but I firmly know that God has a plan and I trust that plan is for the best.

10.
a.

Abraham. God. Gen 2:24, leave father and mother. They cleaved to a human ancestor, rather than to God. They took the promises of God to Abraham as their own because they were descendants of Abraham, not because of their commitment to God

b.

When the serpent tempted Adam and Eve in the garden and sin entered the world

c.

Freedom of the darkness comes through being in the light. Walking in the light every day, in prayer and faith and study is the way to avoid the path of darkness and being tempted by lies.

 

12.3 John – Light

In John 6 Jesus gave an “I am” statement. I am the bread of life.

In John 8 Jesus gives another “I am” statement: I am the light of the world.

First, what does that even mean? Bread we pretty easily understand. We touch bread, we taste bread, we smell bread, we hear the crunch of breaking bread, we are nourished by bread. It is part of all of our senses. But what about light? It is just, well, kind of “out there”.

Light is the first noun we have recorded to come from God. Genesis 3:1, God said, “Let there be light.” Light provides heat and time, it gives the ability to see. It is complex, both wave and particle. It is constant. It bends. It is a spectrum. It is both visible and invisible. It provides beauty and comfort. It is throughout the universe.

John also begins his gospel with an equation of Jesus and light. John 1:4, “in Him (the word who was the creator) was life and that life was the light of all mankind.” Whether acknowledged or not by man, everything about their life, whether physical, moral, mental, or spiritual, at every level of their life and death, is tied to and comes from Jesus.

But Jesus, in John 8:12, doesn’t just claim this as a description of himself. He offers it as a gift to us. “Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” We don’t need to search. We don’t need to work. We don’t need to worry or fear or anything else. All we need to do to be free of all darkness (insert all the things that darkness is a stand-in for here), is to follow him. When we do that one thing, then He gives us for our own, the “light of life.” He gives us himself. He gives us the sacrifice of himself as our own sacrifice and payment of our sins. He gives us creation. He gives us new birth.

But all the Pharisees heard were the words, “I am”. There was a precaution built into the law of that time (and still very relevant today), that someone can’t just announce that they are something and that makes them that thing. If I were to say I was an accountant or a lawyer, you might want the testimony of another, such as a school or testing board, to accept my statement.

But Jesus had just announced that He is God. He just offered something that no one other than the creator has the authority to offer. What man could testify that he had that authority. The answer is simple, no one other than God could, and that is exactly what Jesus tells them. The Father speaks for me. The scriptures speak of Jesus time and time again.

Jesus closes with them with the same admonition we need to hear today. This offer that he has made is a limited time offer. You only have one lifetime to accept it. What path are you following today? There is only one path of the light of life.

My Answers:

6.
a.
There is an alternative to walking in the darkness of this world, to becoming truly alive and a light in this world. Jesus alone is the Son of God, it is impossible to know God the Father without knowing Jesus

b.
He had 2 witnesses, himself and the Father. He actually had a third, the scriptures themselves, since He was written into every part and parcel.

7.
a.
You are from below, I am from above. You are of the world, I am not of this world. Without him they’re only future is death. With Him is life/

b.
Jesus is the Son of the Father. Jesus came to earth to be a perfect man to redeem us from sin at the cost of his own life. He defeated death and has risen to heaven. Jesus and the Father and Holy Spirit are one and through Jesus, I am invited to join.

8.
two things, lifted up on the cross and lifted up to heaven after he rose from the grave and ascended. Jesus came to earth to die and be raised from the dead, to pay the price of sin and to be the first reborn

 

12.2 John – Freedom

What does it mean to be free? What does it mean to have freedom?

When we invest time to really think about this, it is difficult to positively define freedom. We relent to describing the absences, the things it is not. It is not imprisonment. It is not slavery. It is not bondage. It is not subjugation. But those are like saying peace is the absence of war or light is the absence of darkness. They are accurate but insufficient.

I believe Freedom is the central theme of John 8 and the words of Jesus open our eyes to a glimpse of what it means to be free.

In our first day, we study the story of the trap the Pharisees attempted to force Jesus into with the conundrum of the adulterous woman. It is a trap because they saw no legal way out of the question. In their way of thinking, Jesus must either endorse adherence to the law of the Torah, which would be a violation of the Roman law under which the Jews were ruled in that day. While they had the authority to hold court and had minor enforcement authority, they did not have the authority to put someone to death (something we see when they had to take Jesus to the Roman courts for an execution of the death penalty). The Romans weren’t against killing people. They just didn’t want their subjects taking matters into their own hands. If, however, Jesus enforced the Roman law, then He, defacto, stood against the law of Moses and the scriptures.

But, Jesus was free of their bondage and of sin. He adhered to both laws and turned the situation back to them. The first person to cast a stone would be saying, through their action, they had not sinned. Of course, the very act of throwing the stone was a violation of the law and, thus, a sin. The older men recognized this, and their own sin, first, and walked away. Soon to be followed by all else, leaving only Jesus and the woman.

But Jesus final words to the woman are just as telling about freedom as everything else. Jesus forgives the woman, he says, “then neither do I condemn you.” This brings to mind John 3:17, “For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

Jesus final comment to her is the probably the most important for understanding the freedom Jesus offers. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” While no one else would execute the law to kill the woman, Jesus tells her to do it herself. Not to commit suicide, but to kill the life of sin that she had lived. The freedom of forgiveness is not a fresh coat of paint on the walls of rotted framework. It is transformation. It is tearing out the old and building on a solid foundation. It is not procrastinating. Jesus tells her “NOW”. And it is not staying in the same spot. As a dear friend and amazing woman of God says to the addicts she works with, if you stay in the same playground with the same playmates, you play the same games. To be free, we need to move OUT of the jail. We need to “Go” as Jesus commanded her. Sometimes this is spiritually going, but other times it is a literal, physical, get up and go. Even if the doors are unlocked in forgiveness, continuing to live in a jail cell is not the freedom Jesus has in store for us.

My Answers:

4.

My response often reflects their attitude instead of paying attention to the words of Jesus. If they are combative or obstinate, then my response is to walk away instead of show compassion. If they are seeking answers to the pain and suffering in their life, then I have compassion and paitience.

5.

Be cautious in the condemnation of sinners, since we are all sinners.

Do not mistake forgiveness for acceptance or rationalization of approval of sin – “go now and leave your life of sin”. We should each day put our own sinful life to death and live in the holiness of the spirit of God