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31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never 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 practices sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Jesus says, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (Jn. 8:31-32). And the people respond to Jesus, “We are Abraham’s offspring, and we have never been in bondage to anyone.”
Really? What about all those years in Egypt when Pharaoh forced you to make bricks driving you with his whips? What about all those times you cried out to God for deliverance? You’ve never been in bondage to anyone?
What about the seventy years of exile in Babylon? And what about now? What about the Roman soldiers who are patrolling the streets of Jerusalem to make sure Caesar keeps you under his heavy thumb? You’ve never been enslaved to anyone?
Yet, they insist, “We have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘We will become free’?”
Imagine that an evil man came and kidnapped your children when they were very young. He made your children his slaves. He treated them wickedly and cruelly. But you never give up trying to find your children and bring them home.
After many painful years, you finally track the kidnapper down. There are your children bound in chains at the kidnapper’s feet. Even though they don’t recognize you, you stand before them and say, “I am your father. Come home with me, and I will never put you in shackles. Come home, and I will never stop loving you unconditionally.”
But the kidnapper stands up and says to your children, “No, I am your father. Stay here with me. Be my slaves forever. And if you want my love, you will have to earn it because I will never give you anything for free.”
Imagine your children look at you, and they look back at the kidnapper, and they look back at you and say, “We are going to stay here. This is where we want to be.” Pointing at the kidnapper, your children say, “He is our father.”
It is bad enough when you are deceived by a lie, but it is even worse when the lie that fools you is more appealing than the truth.
You here, brothers and sisters, you are not free. Sure, you live in the “land of the free and the home of the brave.” You live in a country with rulers and judges who recognize (at least for now) that you have “certain unalienable rights.” And in this land, you have neighbors who are willing to die to protect the freedoms you enjoy.
But you are not free. You are a slave. The cemetery is proof of your bondage.
“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Ro. 3:23). “Everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin” (Jn. 8:34). But, my fellow sinners, we say, “We have never been in bondage to anyone.”
Your sin has blinded you. You have been in its clutches for so long that you have become accustomed to it. In fact, you enjoy it. You prefer the shackles of anger, lust, greed, and covetousness over the freedom that Christ has come to give freely.
The next time you are tempted by the devil and fall into sin, your preference will be exposed. You would rather sit in those chains of sin and earn the love of your father the devil.
Repent. The truth will, as Jesus says, set you free. And the truth is this:
Though you are a slave to sin, Jesus has come. He has done what the Law could not do. He has justified you by His grace as a gift. Christ has shed His holy and precious blood as a propitiation. And through God-given faith, you are made alive. You are declared righteous. You are forgiven. You are set free, and if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
On January 25, 1546, just twenty-four days before he died, Luther was in Halle. He had preached and was administering the Lord’s Supper. Luther’s health at this time was terribly poor. As he was administering the Blood of Christ, his hand quivered and some of the contents of the chalice spilled on the floor. Luther fell to his old, failing knees and sucked up the wine with his mouth so that it would not be stepped on.
The congregation looked on in astonishment, and it was recorded that not only could you hear a pin drop you could hear the tears hitting the floor.
Some might say that was a slavish thing to do. And yet, I think not. That very blood of Jesus sets you free from the shackles of sin, death, and the devil. Through the Body and Blood of Jesus, you who hunger and thirst for righteousness are satisfied.
My fellow sinners, hear the voice of Jesus. He is here to speak to you, to put the memory of His face back into your mind so that you can be His own, live under Him in His kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness. Jesus says to you again today, “I am here to set you free, and you will be free indeed” (Jn. 8:36). Amen.
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
 I am thankful for a sermon by Pr. Hans Fiene for this analogy.