Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, ‘You will become free’?”
Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are Abraham’s descendants; yet you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. I speak the things which I have seen with My Father; therefore you also do the things which you heard from your father.”
They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.”
Jesus said to them, “If you are Abraham’s children, do the deeds of Abraham. But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do. You are doing the deeds of your father.”
They said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father: God.” (John 8:31-41)
What we think we already know often blinds us to the truth. When a teacher teaches, three things can happen to his words. First, and most commonly, his words get tucked into an already existing box where they can be safely ignored. Second, the words may just go in one ear and out the other. Third, and most rarely, the words are really heard for the new and radical thing they are and a life is forever changed.
Jesus’ audience was made up of those who had accepted his teaching. But they were missing his point to such an extent that he had to tell them that rather than acting like the children of Abraham, they were acting like the children of the Devil.
When Jesus told them that the truth could set them free, they thought he was talking about slavery. Since they were not slaves, Jesus’ words seemed pointless. But Jesus meant that the truth could set them free from sin. How so? Sin comes from believing lies: like the lie that God doesn’t want what is best for us, or the lie that makes us believe today’s pleasure matters more than tomorrow’s consequence.
The truth can free us from all the lies that bind us to misery.