John 8:31-36 Truth for eternal life can only be acquired by walking and talking with Jesus unceasingly

John 8:31-36 Truth for eternal life can only be acquired by walking and talking with Jesus unceasingly

31 So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” 33 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’?” 34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. 36 So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.

Background

The Jews supposed by virtue of their heritage as Abraham’s descendants have obtained eternal life. But Jesus said that the truth that brings eternal life comes only to those who walk and talk with Jesus unceasingly. Indeed, eternal life brings prosperity not only for the present but unspeakable glory in heaven. Truth is not obtained through much study but through intimate fellowship with the risen Christ. Jesus taught that all men were fleshly and by nature opposed the truth. However, whenever a man walks and talks with Jesus, Christ’s Spirit regenerates him towards eternal life. Today’s passage teaches us: Truth for eternal life can only be acquired by walking and talking with Jesus unceasingly.

Observation

If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine…

Jesus was addressing a group of Jews who believed Him. Here, He gave the condition of becoming a true disciple: “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine.” “My word” refers to Jesus’s teachings and the values He stands for. To “continue in My word” is to remember His teachings and more importantly to live them out. In essence, a true disciple of Jesus carries His distinctive lifestyle and mode of living. That said, to “continue in My word” is more than just aligning one’s lifestyle to Jesus’s. A true disciple must continue to walk and talk with Jesus on a daily basis. He must endeavour to draw near in fellowship with Jesus.

…and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.

The “truth” differs from “My word” in that it refers to the core revelation that sets men free to live like Jesus. To put it plainly, to be free or to live the eternal life is to live like gods: to be all virtuous, all wise and all powerful. Thus, it is through continuous conversation with Jesus that believers acquire divine truths that set them free. That said, in what way was humanity under bondage? Humanity is imprisoned by sin and the devil’s lies that prevent him from living out the god-like life he is created for. The truth is the life of the risen Christ that regenerates sinners and empowers them to live like Him. The figure below illustrates the characteristics of a slave of sin and the son of freedom.

The slave of sin is beset with fear, sorrow, anger, self-blame, bitterness, lust, unbelief and confusion making him a prison of hell. The son of freedom is constantly filled with divine peace, joy, love, confidence, contentment, purity, faith and wisdom. The Spirit empowers him to exhibit the divine virtues, wisdom and authority of God.

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.

However, it is possible to keep listening to Jesus’s words and yet remain oblivious to the truth. The Jews insisted that they as Abraham’s descendants were never enslaved and did not require anyone to set them free. They supposed that if one possessed the right ancestry or affiliated with the right religion or doctrine, one is considered as free. But Jesus was not talking about ancestry or religious affiliation but about the essence of one’s life. In other words, if one does not possess divine virtues, wisdom and exercise divine authority over all things, he is not free. Jesus had in the course of discipling the apostles showed them how they could walk on water, feed the 5000 and raise the dead like He did and to carry the cross. And that is eternal life. He told them plainly,

Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. – John 14:12-13

Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.

Jesus taught the true reason humanity is enslaved and prevented from living the divine life of freedom is sin. To “commit sin”, or to be a “slave of sin” is to be imprisoned by fear, despair, selfishness, worldliness, hatred, covetousness, anger, deceit, lust and all kinds of darkness. Jesus went a step further by saying that only those who are free (from sin’s bondage) are considered as sons or descendants of Abraham. Against mainstream Jewish traditions and institutionalised tenets, Jesus defined freedom as living in divine love, wisdom and authority. One can possess wealth, power and an appearance of godliness in the eyes of the world but remain a slave in the eyes of God.

So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.

Because humanity is hopelessly imprisoned in darkness, nothing can turn him around apart from the power of the risen Christ. Jesus alone possesses the power to regenerate humanity, freeing them to live like God. Having ascended to God’s right hand, Jesus sends His Spirit into every believer freeing them to live the divine life, the eternal life.

Truth

Truth for eternal life can only be acquired by walking and talking with Jesus unceasingly

The Jews sought to live the eternal life by studying the scriptures but failed. They have erroneously supposed that eternal life comes from religion and scholarship. Jesus said concerning them,

You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life. – John 5:39

The Jews seek knowledge but not fellowship with Jesus: “for they are unwilling to come to Me.” Indeed, eternal life does not come from knowledge but from walking and talking with Jesus unceasingly. Scriptural knowledge functions only as a bridge to Jesus, who alone is the source of eternal life. But many choose to stay on the bridge and revel on it, never crossing over to Christ. There is a stark difference between seeking knowledge and seeking His fellowship in trust and obedience. One who seeks knowledge is independent of God. But one who seeks fellowship depends on Him for all aspects of life.

Modern day Christians are likened to the Jews who “had believed Him”. They study the scriptures religiously but find no need to converse with Jesus and depend on Him in the mundane decisions of life. They have already made up their minds as to what they should do the moment they wake up. Instead of following Jesus, many expect Him to follow in their footsteps. One thing for certain, Christ will not have a direct conversation with one who look to Him to endorse his preferences. For such, Christ will use another person to speak to them.

Concerning knowledge, most do not study the scriptures for themselves while depending on the Spirit to reveal the truth to them. Instead, they depend on their denominational teachings to tell them what they should believe or not believe. Much like the Jews of Jesus’s days, they had no eternal life despite their knowledge and religious obsessions. Only when one walks and talks unceasingly with the risen Christ can the scriptures come alive with truth for eternal life.

What hinders believers from walking and talking with Jesus?

Eternal life comes by way of conversations with Christ. However, the flesh is that which hinders believers from drawing near to God and converse with Him. Jesus said,

What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. – John 6:63

In the diagram below we see the flesh comprising differing interests, ways, level of maturity and trust. The flesh hinders intimacy between God and men.

It is hard for two people of interest to converse deeply. Likewise, people of differing ways often rub against each other. There is also the element of maturity and trust that determines the depth of the conversation.

Application

Are your life goals and interests aligned with Jesus’s? Do you set career direction according to your desires and preferences? Many could not converse with God because their interests differ from God’s. It is rather painful to invest one’s heart into things without first consulting with God.

Are your ways aligned with God’s ways. One may possess the right motives, but his ways differ from God’s. For a start, endeavour to seek God’s counsel for all things great and small. And discover for yourself what God has to say regarding the things you deemed as insignificant and no-brainers.

Do you often perceive things from your point of view or from God’s? God speaks from a higher perspective and uses vocabularies differently. For example, Jesus spoke of Lazarus as having fallen asleep when he was in fact dead.

Do you have a tendency to immediately draw back when people did not fulfil their end of the bargain? People of low trusts level tend to exhibit this pattern. Keep conversing with God when things did not go the way you think. And you will learn wisdom and build trust with God.

Dear Lord, I desire to know and experience eternal life in greater measure. Help me remove the fleshly things that push you away. Help me make the necessary changes so that I may walk and talk with you intimately. Cause me to experience the fruit of eternal life and accomplish your will on earth. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.


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