Today’s chapter (John 8) is really challenging. Jesus said, “Whoever is of God knows the words of God, the reason you do not hear them is that you are not of God” (verse 47). Of course they were hearing what he said; the point was that they could not make sense of his words, they could not see what he meant because their minds were so fixed.
The same problem exists today! There are some listening to Jesus who want to believe and understand, and to them Jesus says, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (verse 32). This confuses them! Free from what? As descendants of Abraham, they say, we are not “enslaved to anyone, how is it that you say, ‘you will become free?’” (verse 33).
Jesus then makes the point, “everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin … if the Son sets you free you will be free indeed” (verse 36). Most of his listeners fail to get the point. In the end the key questions is whether they are “of God” or not. If they are “of God” they will continue to listen and develop an understanding.
It is likely that many of these listeners would later hear Peter’s message on the day of Pentecost and “were cut to the heart” (Acts 2:37). They were then ready to receive and understand the true meaning of Christ’s words and be made free. This freedom was accomplished through the sacrifice on the cross, it brought to a completion the purpose of the Law, the ‘letter’ of which had enslaved them (see 2 Corinthians 3:6-16). Paul, the converted Pharisee puts it succinctly, “the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ” (Romans 8:2).
On the day of Pentecost the freedom of the hearers was completed the moment they accepted the true meaning of Peter’s message – and they were baptised! As a result “when Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3:4).
They had heard Peter quote from the Psalms, “You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence” (verse 28). We can link this with the words of Solomon during his dedication of the Temple, his awareness of the all-seeing God. Let us invite the words of Jesus and his Father to abide in us and direct our lives – then we will be set free indeed!