John 8:21-28-Jesus is speaking of His resurrection and tells them that He will go away and they will not be able to find Him. He has said this before and they always get confused (cf. 7:35-going to the Gentiles?). They are so confused that they wonder if He is talking about committing suicide (:22). Jesus responds to their line of thinking and, in a sense, tells them not that He is going to commit suicide, but that if they do not believe in Him they are committing spiritual suicide (:24). One thing for sure…this verse rules out universalism…that ultimately, everyone will go to Heaven. Jesus makes it perfectly clear that there are those who will not go to Heaven. And, that the only way for someone to go to Heaven is to believe in Him (:24). Shortly before, the Pharisees had told Jesus that He could not bear witness of Himself. So, Jesus told them that there was another Who bore witness of Him, His Father (:18). Now, the Pharisees ask that He bear witness of Himself by asking Him, “Who are You?” (:25). However, Jesus does not respond by telling them Who He says He is; but, He responds by telling them where He is from (:23-“above”, Heaven), Who has sent Him (:26-27-“Father”), and what He will do (:28-29-crucifixion). Those are the identifiers, the witnesses of Who He is.
John 8:28-29-Jesus tells them that (1) He says nothing, nor does anything other than what the Father directs Him...(2) that the Father is with Him...and, that (3) the Father is pleased with Him. He then directs the disciples to do the same thing in regards to Him. He is the pattern for them. Notice that Jesus tells those who "believe in Him" (:30)..."if you abide in My word...you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free" (:31-32). The order is: (1) obedience through faith (abide in His word), (2) will lead to spiritual understanding of the truth, (3) which will result in freedom from the power of sin (:34). The Jewish leaders thought He was speaking to them…not realizing that He was speaking of the life set free from sin that His followers would have. They were saying that they were not slaves to "anyone" (:33)...but did not realize that He was speaking of slavery to sin. They could not follow the line of thought of His teachings because they had no depth of spiritual discernment…being limited by their own human rationale and not having the Holy Spirit to disclose true wisdom to them.
Freedom from sin comes through a developing relationship with Jesus...not through self-discipline. Jesus does teach self-discipline. But, that discipline is not an end in and of itself...but it is a means to an end...that being, a stronger relationship with Jesus. Self-discipline for its own sake leads to legalism…another form of slavery.
Prayer: Father, help me to follow the pattern that Jesus gave us. Help me to abide in Your Word, to know Your truth, and to be free from the sin that would control me.