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Windows into the Light by Michael Sullivan

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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Wednesday, April 1

Jesus then 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 we have never been in bondage to anyone. How is it that you say, “You will be made free?”
—John 8: 31-33

It always amazes me that so much can be present in just three verses of scripture. Upon first examination, this passage seems pretty straightforward. A group is listening to Jesus, he tells them they will know the truth through him and become free, and they respond out of their own righteousness and question his lesson. We see their mistake and can find freedom. Simple enough, at least on the surface.

But the amazing depth of the lesson comes when we consider what it means to be a descendant of Abraham. The Jewish group that responded was clearly correct; they were not in bondage. But as descendents of Abraham, they were failing to remember their history. They respond only as those emancipated, those freed.

They have forgotten that a wandering Aremean was their grandfather; they have forgotten their identity. By focusing only upon their freedom and forgetting their bondage, they have forgotten the narrative of who they are in God. They have abandoned Abraham, and more importantly, God’s promise to Abraham.

When we are confronted with truth, we usually do the same. Jesus offers the opportunity of real freedom when we accept the truth of our lives. But most of us, stuck in the status quo of whatever we call normal, defend ourselves as if we had nothing to gain.

We like to think of ourselves as entitled, set apart, justified, often forgetting those who went before, those very ancestors that gave of their life so that we could be shaped and formed as the people we are today. Remembering them, remembering their sacrifice, and remembering whose we are helps us see our self-entitled, selfish ways and seek our place among the family of God.

The light of God and Jesus Christ always meets us where we are, in this reality. It illumines those things that enslave us and have enslaved us in the past. It is only in the totality of our experience in God that we are able to experience the true freedom that Christ brings.

Thus let us join those who sat in front of Jesus and  be mindful of the whole story, remembering that a wandering Aremean was our grandfather. And let us become true descendants of Abraham and Sarah once again.

God of light and life, you deliver me from the bondage of all that attempts to enslave me. Help me let go of false security, and embracing my vulnerability, help me to receive your love and compassion. Amen.