Friday, April 9th John 8:31-33

“Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” 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’?” John 8:31-33

When you fully engage in the disciplines of Lent – or when Lenten disciplines become integrated into our living spirituality – again and again we will find ourselves struck by the depth and power of confession.

Confession is simply getting honest. With yourself. With God. With others.

Radical honesty is a hallmark of Lent. Lent is not a time for pretending, posturing or spin control. Lent is a time for honest reflection, repentance and rebirth. Incorporating this aspect of Lent into our daily lives means making a radical commitment to honesty.

Jesus tells those listening to him in the 8th chapter of John that if they continue to ground themselves in the word – that is, the truth of the scriptures revealed in the teaching of Jesus – they would know the truth and the truth would set them free.

Jesus is speaking here to people who already believed in him. He is talking to folks who claim to be on his side. But watch their reaction!

They immediately get defensive: “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, ‘You will be made free’?”

Sometimes we mindlessly get defensive at the slightest suggestion we have done something wrong. Harboring an inner suspicion of our own lack of value or worth, we bristle when anyone points out a real or perceived error on our part. Sometimes we get defensive because we feel the need to defend ourselves from attack. And sometimes we get defensive because we have something to hide. Which is it here?

Clearly they are being dishonest with themselves. They claim they are already free. What could possibly be further from the truth? Politically, they are vassals of an occupying Roman army. Socially, they are subject to the intense rules and regulations about dietary customs and social interactions of the Mosaic law. Their religious devotion binds them, it doesn’t free them.

If you skip ahead to verse 59 you will see their ultimate reaction to having heard Jesus expose the truth about their lives – they pick up stones to throw at him but he escapes and leaves the temple!

There’s an old line – “The truth will make you free but first it will make you miserable.”

How true it is! Yet if we try to escape the hard work of radical truthfulness, we miss the joy of real freedom.

Dishonesty takes many forms. Little white lies… spinning the truth around a little… shading what we say to protect ourselves, to make ourselves look better, to hide parts of our being or behaviors… stealing… ignoring that which our heart tells us is true – all of these are aspects of dishonesty. It is insidious. It sucks the integrity from our lives. It hollows out our souls.

When we realize the hole that dishonesty has dug in our lives we might need help to get honest again. We could very well need a circle of people who hold us accountable for truth seeking and truth speaking. Those people might be those closest to us. They certainly need to be people we trust.

Together with those we trust and our own radical commitment to be completely, ruthlessly and utterly honest, we can move into a new way of being.

We CAN know the truth and that truth CAN set us free.

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, throughout this week we’ve been talking about ways that the spiritual disciplines of Lent can become a part of our daily lives – and each part has been about what makes our relationship with you work and grow. Listening to you in prayer and scripture reading, modeling ourselves after you in self giving actions, and seeking to be honest with you and in all areas of our lives….we can see how all of these hold the promise of a greater intimacy with you. And we can see how hard they are for us to do. So we ask for your help to encourage us on the way. Don’t let us settle for anything less than all that which you would have us know as your children. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

One Response to “Friday, April 9th John 8:31-33”

  1. mark Says:

    There would be a really useful book in extending this weeks devotions.

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