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Abide in My Word

Lent 2022

Read John 8:31-59

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. 37 I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. 38 I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.

“Abide in my word.” God commands us to gladly hear his word, eagerly learn it, and fervently follow it. Yet our fallen human nature always receives these words as a burden of responsibility. But if we perceived reality with God’s wisdom, we would more readily see his word as the gracious invitation to life which Jesus gives.

Bo Giertz, a Swedish pastor and author, once wrote, “People often think they are free when they put themselves above God’s commands and don’t do what He wants. Actually, they only stop serving one power and begin serving another.”1 This is what Jesus explains in our reading today. The “father of lies,” the devil, “was a murderer from the very beginning… There is no truth in him.” Putting ourselves above God’s commands is sin. Sin does not free us from God’s holy commands; it only makes us a slave to itself. When we are slaves to sin our father is the devil, and if the devil is our father, than there is no chance of life, for he was (to come full circle) a murderer from the beginning.

But Christ gives life. Being God, his word has the power to set us free and bring us to eternal life. This is why he so passionately commands us to hear his word. “Abide in my word… and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.… If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” True freedom is found only in remaining in his word. That is the reason for his command to us. The word itself makes us receptive as God’s new creation (John 3), so that our ears, minds, and hearts are opened to cheerfully hear God’s consolation, diligently study its truth, gladly receive its reproof, willingly invite its correction, and eagerly welcome its instruction.

Prayer: My dear Father, give me your grace, that by your Holy Spirit I firmly believe your word and cling to it each day as my armor and protection in this life, that through your Son Jesus, you would bring me faithfully into life everlasting. Amen.

1 Bo Giertz, To Live with Christ, CPH, 2008 p. 224

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