Freedom

The Truth shall make you free…Whoseoever commiteth sin, is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house forever; but the Son abideth ever. If the son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

— John 8: 32, 34-36

As the passage from John stands, I have not been able to make sense of it. No man could be in the house of the Father in virtue of being the servant of sin; yet this man is in the house as a servant, and the house in which he serves is not the house of sin, but the house of the Father. The utterance is confused at best, and the reasoning faulty. He must be in the house of the Father on some other ground than sin. Most difficulties of similar nature, where the words of the Lord may have been misrepresented, likely originated with some scribe who, desiring to explain what he did not understand, wrote his worthless gloss on the margin: the next copier took the words for an omission that ought to be replaced in the body of the text. What do we not owe to the critics who have searched the scriptures, and found what really was written! In the present case, Dr. Wescott’s notation gives a reading with a difference indeed small to the eye, but great enough to give us fine gold. What I take for the true reading in English, then, is: “Everyone committing sin is a slave. But the slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remaineth forever. If then the son shall make you free, you shall in reality be free.” The words of the Lord here are not that he who sins is the slave of sin, true utterly as that is; but that he is a slave, and the argument shows that he means a slave to God. The two are perfectly consistent. No amount of slavery to sin can keep a man from being as much the slave of God as God chooses in his mercy to make him. It is his sin makes him a slave instead of a child. His slavery to sin is his ruin; his slavery to God is his only hope.

Commentary

by Leah Bond

"The words of the Lord here are not that he who sins is the slave of sin, true utterly as that is, but that he is a slave, and the argument shows that he means a slave to God...Its his sin makes him a slave instead of a child."

 Jesus is speaking the Father's language of life to a religious group, descendants of Abraham, and he tells them"The Truth shall make you free..." In their religious and political and very worldly, societal, and cultural paradigm, Jesus invitation into life and love and relationship with the Father is offensive. They reason they already have a seat at the table, they have a room in the house! How can they be slaves in the seats of privilege? What can Christ offer them that they do not already have?  To understand freedom, we must have knowledge of our slavery, 

Jesus is telling them, they are not truly free!  Jesus is shining the light on to the chains hidden under their robes and behind their backs and around the doors of their hearts. 

Lets take, for example, the moment the prodigal son ran home to his father, longing for even the lowliest slave's place in his father's house, longing to be near the father. The older son recoiled from the father and the father's embrace of the lost son.  The older son was the true slave to sin at that very moment. The younger son, begging a slaves place, left a slave to sin and returned the child of the father. 

The religious among us, indeed many of us would do this, stood atop the riches of the father's home, an open seat beside his father's table. Yet his slavery to duty, and his cold and bitter assessment of the intimacy of the Father with the true son were his chains.

Jesus is telling them to seek freedom, to see their slavery to sin, their great distance from the Father and son, so that they may come running to him and believe Jesus when he spoke "if the son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed."