Please pardon the break in devotional continuity. Last week was a little crazy what with ending a call, getting ready to start a new call and moving all of the truckworthy items into storage or my soon-to-be new home. I am now getting settled into my new office and will be preaching regularly from the lectionary—woo hoo!!!
31 Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
33 They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, ‘You will be made free’?”
34 Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. 36 So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”
One of the powers of music is in its ability to come flooding back into one’s mind with tune, lyrics and associated memories with the smallest of provocations. Whenever I hear the words of Jesus in this Sunday’s appointed gospel text I am drawn to the song by Stephen Curtis Chapman: Free. And obviously whenever I hear the song I am drawn back to this gospel text.
(live concert song clip, Detroit, 9-19-10)
Jesus came into the world to rescue us. Jesus came to speak a word into our lives. Jesus came to be the Word in our world and in our lives. He invites us to follow after him as disciples. As we grow into the words and ways of Jesus we are made free.
Our human reaction is so often one of disdain: I’m not a prisoner! I’m not a slave! I don’t need your stinking freedom.
Jesus speaks truth saying that everyone who commits a sin (that would be everyone) is a slave to sin (or “in bondage to sin” as we used to so regularly confess). And we cannot free ourselves. So Jesus comes into our world and into our lives bearing freedom. Jesus makes us free indeed.
It may be the case that we still must dwell in prisons of our own making or our own deserving. The prisoner in the song doesn’t walk out with Stephen Curtis Chapman. Some of our tragic choices and irrevocable failures will have some sway on us until we die. Jesus’ gift of freedom is not some sort of magical “Get out of jail free” card that wipes away all pain, suffering and consequence. But our hearts and lives are shaped so that we can sing of freedom while we wait for Jesus’ promises to bring their full and glorious consequence.
At the tail end of the video Stephen Curtis Chapman asks if there is anyone who can say that Jesus has set them free. Can you say that? I can. I hope and pray you can too—all to God’s glory.
God, as we gather for worship this Sunday for Reformation Sunday help us rest in the glorious freedom that you have won for us. Re-form our hearts, minds and souls that we might truly live into the freedom only you can give us. And give us songs to sing that all who might need to hear (that would be everyone) would. Amen.