Gospel: John 8:31–36
31Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; 32and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." 33They 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'?"
34Jesus answered them, "Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. 36So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.
Greetings to you in the name of Jesus Christ,
This morning we hear in our gospel text, “The truth will make you free”. As we read this, did you hear this statement, and think, hmm, so that’s where that saying comes from, Jesus said it. In my life, I have heard this statement used in varying contexts, someone trying to argue this or that point, or even trying to sell something, yet rarely, has the light bulb flashed and reminded me that Jesus said this first.
And, now that we have been reminded of the origin of this statement, some advice; if anyone says “the truth will set you free” and adds to it, “for the low, low price only $9.99” do not buy whatever they are selling.
So, what is the truth that sets us free? First, what is the truth? We could simply say Jesus, which would be right, but that doesn’t tell us a lot.
And then there’s freedom, the idea of being free, an idea that is one of the most used, and least articulated concepts in our society.
So how about this for a description of this statement in one word. Baptism. It is the gift of Baptism that gives us the best, the only articulation of what Jesus is saying to us in this statement. And you can get baptized here at Christ the King Lutheran church for the low low price of only $9.99.
Baptism both clearly speaks the truth to us, and guides us into the way of freedom.
The truth of Baptism, the truth that is professed in this great gift is that God loves each and every one of us, indeed, each and every human being that has ever been created, more than we can fathom. This truth of this love, is of course shown to us in the death of Jesus for all of creation, and, the truth of this love for us is an indelible mark given to us when we are marked with this cross in our Baptism.
And the freedom this truth gives is a freedom that our world, enslaved to sin, cannot give. For example, think of a person who has been “set free” from their incarceration. They are not really freed from it, but marked by it throughout their lives; be it in job applications or future relationships, the mark of ex-con will make a person a little less free than those who haven’t served time.
From another perspective, think of the “freedom” that comes when we turn 18, or leave our parent’s house. When we grow up, we may be able to live a little more by our own rules, but we aren’t free from the person our environments like home, school, and peer groups have formed us to be. We hopefully carry many marks of love and joy from our early years, we probably carry some marks of expectations that push us in certain directions, and we all carry marks of hurt and pain that have been inflicted upon us, and the painful marks that we have left upon others.
And what is freedom from the perspective of people who are residing in the Land of the Free? Here in this country, we have our own history of slavery to deal with, and today, we most certainly still wrestle with a society marked by the scourge of slavery, that has varying levels of freedom now built into our collective DNA.
Regardless of who we are, or where we live; whether we are the oppressors or the oppressed, we cannot make ourselves free. We are all slaves to sin, and there is no law, no edict, no technology, or medication that can free us from it. Ultimately, we are slaves to hurting each other, hurting ourselves, and hurting the creation that has been given to us.
But we are Baptized. We are loved even though we are in bondage to sin, and not because of anything we have done, but simply out of God’s grace. In our baptism, this love sets us free, not to do whatever we want, but to love each other. In our baptism, we are freed to set others free. In our baptism we are able to see the person who has served time as just another person to love. In our baptism we are freed to create a loving refuge for the child who doesn’t find love at home. In our baptism, we are freed to break the racist laws that lie and tell us not all people are created equally by our creator, knowing the truth that the loving waters of baptism tell us. And in our baptism, we are even free to love the person who made those laws too. And, lest we forget, the poor wretch looking at us in the mirror, the one that we are so quick to criticize, and denigrate, as the water runs into the sink, we are free to remember that Jesus thought that this person was so valuable that he died for them too.
We are baptized. We are freed by the truth of God’s unending love given to us in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We are freed by the Holy Spirit sharing that life through the lives of generations of disciples, with us today. We are freed to be those disciples, those followers of Christ, who are called to share this truth, this life of freedom, this life of unending grace, peace, justice, and love, this baptized life, with all of creation.
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,