How many wars have been fought for freedom? History is full of causes and crazes. People died and people gave up normal living all for the truth they perceived to bring them their desired outcome. Many times a whole new era was introduced as we see in the French, American and Russian revolutions (there are many others) and other times the world reacted and defeated what was threatening to their own freedom (Nazi Germany in the twentieth century).
Freedom and truth are both widely debated philosophical prickly pears as both demand extended definition. They are very old concepts that have to be discussed in relation to each other. This has been happening over many centuries. Freedom can only be lived in relationship with the degree of freedom amongst the fellow free. Truth has to be measured and is therefore always relative to a standard.
Freedom is defined as: the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint. It includes improper familiarity and boldness of conception or execution. The state of true freedom can impact the people around the free negatively; therefore freedom is always limited by the freedom of the next person.
Truth is defined as: fidelity to an original or to a standard, sincerity in action, character, and utterance, the body of real things, events, and facts.
There is after all only one who ever, in the history of mankind said: I am the truth. (John 14:6)
Here in the well-known words of Jesus about truth and freedom, the Jews take exception with His implication of bondage. (John 8:31 and onwards)
He says they in slavery to sin. For the Jews, freedom was most important. Now they were oppressed by the Romans exactly like they were oppressed by Egypt, Assyria and Babylon. They knew God’s promise that they would not be slaves (Leviticus 25:39-42). Their efforts to be free resulted in many and bloody revolts.
Jesus was talking about slavery to sin. The Greeks said only the wise man is free, the foolish man is a slave.
Socrates said: How can you call a man free when his pleasures rule over him? Paul thanked God for freedom from the slavery of sin (Romans 6:17-20)
When sin rules, sin decides. We have heard of people who said: I can decide what to do with my own life and then live the promiscuous life they think they want. They do not realize that in the end they do not decide, sin decides and deceives them into thinking it is their own decision. In sin you loose the power to decide. People go on with things they know are destroying their lives.
Every Jew believed he was safe because of direct decadency from Abraham. Obedience to God took second place. Jesus is blunt about this. In the modern life it is possible to live by descendants, name, reputation, wealth, history and tradition, but true life cannot come from the glory of the past.
A real descendent could only be one who acts like Abraham – not flesh and blood but spiritual fidelity. They want to kill Jesus, but when a messenger from God came to Abraham, he extended his best hospitality (Genesis 18:1-8).
He insults them by saying they are doing the works of the devil (8:44). Kinship with God must show in life and conduct.
God cannot be your Father if you do not recognize Jesus and His works. They claim pure birth, not born from adultery. The Old Testament is full of the symbolism of the unfaithful Israel in an adulterous union with pagan gods.
They cannot understand that they are spiritually deaf and blind and intellectually handicapped. They are so ruled by religion that they cannot see God.
The devil is a murderer. He murders truth, knowledge and understanding. This leads to death. The devil is a liar – every lie on earth is inspired by the devil. The maintaining of the false in religion is the work of the devil.
Jesus dares them to point at evil in His life (8:46,47). If they could find no charge, why don’t they believe?
The Spirit reveals truth and enables man to grasp it. When you shut the door to the Spirit, you will not recognize anything of value. One cannot be religious and have the Spirit. When you clung to religious beliefs, you are dead. You can serve God in a godless way and never know Him. If you shut your heart to the Spirit of God, you remain a stranger to God even though you are religious. Religion is human and human ideas about God. It is not true knowledge.
To be told they were strangers to God, was a deep insult.
The Hebrew word for Samaritan is Shomeroni (8:48). It could also mean the prince of the devils. They accused Jesus of being mad, and made mad by the devil. He answered by asking how could a devil honour God. His aim was to honour God. They had the devil not Him – and He said it in so many words.
He was not looking for worldly honour. He knew He would be insulted, rejected and crucified. His supreme faith was in God to lift Him up.
Here in the last verses of the chapter Jesus makes claim after claim, almost as if to annoy them. He appeals to Spirit-insight, which He knew they did not have. How could anyone not die? Abraham and all the prophets were dead. (Zechariah 1:5)
Jesus talks about spiritual things in a physical realm. To us He is saying: see everything spiritually. Every day of your life should be lived with an eye on eternity.
What is death? Physical death is just one more intimate experience with God.
We live in the invisible Kingdom of heaven. We talk the language of heaven where problems are possibilities and we walk in the footsteps of the Almighty God.
All true honour comes from God. Worldly honour means nothing. There is nothing like self-approval – it does not last into eternity.
Jesus claims unique knowledge of God, in contrast to what they claim to know and unique obedience to God, because He knows exactly what God wants Him to be.
Jesus makes another outrages claim (8:56). He said He was before Abraham – it is like a fire-statement.
The Jews believed Abraham was in paradise and could see earth. Jesus implied that because He was born of Abraham, Abraham would rejoice in this day. It was by the birth of the Messiah that all the nations of the earth would be blessed. Abraham was given a vision of the Messiah (Genesis 15:8-21). Abraham laughed the laugh of joy when he heard that he would have a son. The Rabbi’s believed that Abraham rejoiced in the promise of the Messiah and that is why he laughed.
To a Jew it was easy to see that Abraham saw the Messiah. But they could not understand that Jesus said He was before Abraham. Fifty was the age at which the Levites retired from service. Jesus was much too young for the wisdom of age. Jesus said that He is timeless.
By saying that, He claimed to be God. He truly knew the Fathers of Israel, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the faith heroes of old. He became a man to show us what God is like. This is the claim He makes and they want to kill Him for that. He simply walks away, since the time for killing Him was not yet.