The Truth Shall Set You Free
John 8:27-36 MKJV They did not understand that He spoke to them of the Father. (28) Then Jesus said to them, When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you shall know that I AM, and that I do nothing of Myself, but as My Father has taught Me, I speak these things. (29) And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things which please Him. (30) As He spoke these words, many believed upon Him. (31) Then Jesus said to the Jews who believed on Him, If you continue in My Word, you are My disciples indeed. (32) And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (33) They answered Him, We are Abraham's seed and were never in bondage to anyone. How do you say, You will be made free? (34) Jesus answered them, Truly, truly, I say to you, Whoever practices sin is the slave of sin. (35) And the slave does not abide in the house forever, but the Son abides forever. (36) Therefore if the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.
Interestingly the CIA’s motto is John 8:32 – “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Which in the spy world probably means something like “knowing the truth about the enemy helps to maintain freedom and democracy.” Everyone wants to know the truth, for all sorts of reasons, even jealous husbands to UFO chasers! But the truth these people are talking about is very different from the kind of spiritual and existential truth that Jesus is talking about.
The “facts” are what most of these people mean, but facts come and go. The truth Jesus speaks of is abiding and eternal – it is the truth of God, known and lived by that brings true inner freedom. The CIA agents are not “free” in the sense that Jesus talks about freedom and especially those involved in rather dubious activities: “Truly, truly, I say to you, Whoever practices sin is the slave of sin.”
So we need to redefine truth and freedom here to mean non-political truth and non-political freedom. We are looking at the inner human person, the eternal self, the truest part of ourselves, that can be liberated by Christ, and which is compromised and bound up by sin.
It is a deep part of Jewish identity to be a liberated people, the spiritual themes of liberation and bondage date back to Exodus and more recently to the Holocaust. So when Jesus talks about needing to be free they are indignant: “They answered Him, We are Abraham's seed and were never in bondage to anyone. How do you say, You will be made free?”
The Jews simply did not grasp inner freedom, which is freedom from neurotic self-centeredness, freedom from obsessions, and compulsions, from lusts and fears and from sin. There is an inner prison that we must all be liberated from - and Christ holds the Key. The key to freedom is to know the truth about us and about the forging grace of God in Christ. Knowing the truth about us alone will only lead to despair. Salvation is a two-fold movement of repentance and faith!
The truth that Jesus brings is grounded in His relationship with the Father: “Then Jesus said to them, When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you shall know that I AM, and that I do nothing of Myself, but as My Father has taught Me, I speak these things. (29) And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things which please Him. (30) As He spoke these words, many believed upon Him.”
Jesus speaks His truth from a listening ear “as My father has taught Me”, and an obedient life “for I always do those things which please Him.” Thus it is a truth, which Jesus has heard first and obeyed first before He has ever asked us to live by it.
Jesus lived in close communion with God the Father and did not indulge in idiosyncratic philosophizing; “The Father has not left Me alone” – thus the Word came out of divine fellowship, not from a wild notion or emotion.
“ When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you shall know that I AM, and that I do nothing of Myself” The cross, resurrection and ascension were conformations of Jesus’ claims about Himself. If these claims were just self-promotion then Jesus would stay in the grave along with all the rest of the world’s philosophers, but if God was really with Him , He would rise from the dead. And this is indeed what happened!
When Jesus says something radical such as “I do nothing of Myself” then it is worth probing deeply as to what He really means – for Jesus was certainly not a passive person! The key is ‘of Myself” - that is without consulting the Father. God is a Trinity and to put it very simplistically the Trinity is an extremely close team! The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are perpetually in communion over what shall be done. So every step of the way Jesus was consulting the Father and was empowered by the Holy Ghost.
So the Truth that Jesus speaks is an eternal truth that emerges out of communion with the Father and which sets us spiritually free – from sin and other inner afflictions. This is extremely important for the success of inner healing ministries. God can set us free the way no amount of medication or advice can. Deep inside every person is an eternal realm that is the key to the whole personality and when this is strengthened and healed the whole person experiences freedom, wholeness, joy and love.
Paul writes of this glorious inner transformational work of the Holy Spirit:
Ephesians 3:16-19 MKJV That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man; (17) that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, (18) may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth and length and depth and height, (19) and to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge, that you might be filled with all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 5:18-20 MKJV And do not be drunk with wine, in which is excess, but be filled with the Spirit, (19) speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; (20) always giving thanks for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
2 Corinthians 3:17-18 MKJV (17) And the Lord is that Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. (18) But we all, with our face having been unveiled, having beheld the glory of the Lord as in a mirror, are being changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Lord Spirit.
Thus the truth that Jesus brings us is not mere political factuality but an inner existential and spiritual liberation through the knowledge of God and the power of the Holy Spirit!