Jesus, Truth and Freedom: A Contextualization from John 8:30-37

Jesus found himself in a debate with religious and political leaders after standing with a woman whose life was being used to prove a political point. We often call her “the woman caught in adultery.” I won’t get into whether or not that is fair description, but here is how the debate eventually plays out for Jesus in John 8:30-37.

30 As he was saying these things, many believed in him.
31 Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you continue in my word, you really are my disciples. 32 You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
33 “We are descendants of Abraham,” they answered him, “and we have never been enslaved to anyone. How can you say, ‘You will become free’?”
34 Jesus responded, “Truly I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. 35 A slave does not remain in the household forever, but a son does remain forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you really will be free. 37 I know you are descendants of Abraham, but you are trying to kill me because my word has no place among you.

The religious and political leaders (it was one and the same for them) we caught up in the ideology of their theology. We aren’t always much different from them. So sometimes we need a different reading of the text. I wrote this back in 2016 so to be read often during a series we called, “The Politics of Truth.” It was a series the shepherds requested I preach. Here is the contextualization of John 8:30-37 I wrote in order that we might here like they would have heard it, but in our time and place.

Here is a contextualization I wrote back in 2016 to be read often during a series with WCC.

“As He was saying these things, many believed in Him. So Jesus said to the Christians living in the USA who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, you really are My disciples. You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

“As He was saying these things, many believed in Him. So Jesus said to the Christians living in the USA who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, you really are My disciples. You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

“We are descendants of democracy,” they answered Him, “and we live in the land of the free and the home of the brave. We aren’t enslaved to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will become free’?”

Jesus responded, “I assure you: Everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. A slave does not remain in the household forever, but a son does remain forever. Therefore, if the Son sets you free, you really will be free.

“I know you are descendants of democracy, but you are trying to explain my teachings away because My word is not welcome among you.”

We have to do our best to resist our tendencies to get our theology confused with our ideology. It is hard for all of us. It is hard for me. But one of the best ways we resist this tendency is to submit our ideology to the greatest command and choose to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, and treat them as we want to be treated.

But we have to do this in concrete particular ways. Loving our neighbor has to be practical and specific, and do whatever it requires to be faithful, by the Spirit of the Spirit working in us.

About Fred

Fred came to serve greater Williamsburg and WCC as lead pastor in October of 2010 and is grateful to be a part of the family. He is a husband, father, certified trauma professional, S.T.A.R. (strategies for trauma awareness & resilience) practitioner, community organizer, TEDx alum, founder of 3e Restoration, Inc. and co-owner of Philoxenia Culture LLC. He received his B.S. in Ministry/Bible at Amridge University and his Master’s of Religious Education in Missional Leadership from Rochester University. Currently he is a candidate for a Doctorate of Ministry in Contextual Theology in at Northern Seminary in Chicago. Fred has also served as an adjunct professor for Rochester University and Regent University where taught courses in philosophy, ethics, leadership, pastoral care, intro to Christianity, and ethnography. He has also served as a guest lecturer on the subjects of racialized cultural systems, poverty, and missiology at various universities, such as William & Mary and Oklahoma Christian University. Fred has authored on book (Racialized Cultural Systems, Social Displacement and Christian Hospitality) and several curriculum offerings, including The FloorPlan: Living Toward Restoration & Resilience. Fred enjoys hanging out with his family anytime, anywhere. He is deeply grateful for how God graciously works through the Church in all her various forms, despite our brokenness. He is passionate about seeing the last, least, and lonely of every neighborhood, city and nation experience God’s in-breaking kingdom, and come to know Jesus as King. Oh, and his favorite season is Advent and Christmas. Fred is a founding member of the board of directors for Virginia Racial Healing Institute, a member of the leadership team for Williamsburg's local chapter of Coming to the Table, and a member of Greater Williamsburg Trauma-Informed Community Network's Racial Trauma Committee and Training Committee.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Jesus, Truth and Freedom: A Contextualization from John 8:30-37

  1. Steve Koziol says:

    That is a refreshing application of the passage, and a very bracing mirror to ourselves. Thank you, Fred. Is your series available on-line?

    Like

  2. Pingback: To Those “Born Again” in the USA | GRACE & PEACE

Join the conversation, but please be gracious.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s