Who Do You Believe In?

Who do you believe in? In this passage from John’s Gospel, Jesus is confronting all of us with this question. It is, in the most profound sense, a familial question of infinite importance. It is a question worthy of our deep reflection.

What is the difference between a son and a slave? Jesus has been revealing the truth to the people in his words and deeds for some time. He has been showing them and telling them that he is the Son who has been sent by the Father to reveal the truth to them. “If you hold to my teachings, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (verse 31)

Jesus is addressing those among the Jews who have refused to see who he really is and who are, in fact, trying to kill him. He is challenging them with the fact that they are slaves to their sins. They, of course, are blinded by their pride and will not hear this. Jesus, always trying to give them another chance to see, relates the difference between a slave and a son to them saying, “a slave has no permanent place in a family, but a son belongs to it forever.” (verse 35) A slave cannot set you free, only the Son can do that. Jesus is telling them that he is that Son who has been sent by the Father to set them free. His word was, is, and always will be, the truth that will set us free.

Jesus tells the truth to us when he says. “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” We are being challenged here in the same way as those who Jesus was contending with in this Gospel passage. If we claim to be disciples of Jesus, but do not do all that he has commanded us to do, we are not free. That’s the Christian paradox. Sin is an abuse of freedom that leads to our enslavement. Obedience to the law of love as given to us by God in Jesus Christ, is the true source of our freedom. Because we believe that Jesus really is the Son of God, we know that he is the Way, the Truth and the Life. We know that he is the Son who has set us free indeed. If we really belong to him, we not only hear what he says to us, but we act upon it. If we do not, we can not say that we belong to God.

Dear Lord, it is the deepest, most treasured desire of our hearts to belong to you fully. Help us in every moment of our days to hear what you are saying to us. Give us the grace to be your true children, faithful in all that we say and do, with and for others for your sake, and your sake alone, Lord. You are the Son who has set us free. Walk with us now, Lord, and when our days are done, bring us home to the Father. We pray these things in your most holy name, Jesus. Amen!

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.