Having pardoned the woman taken in adultery, confronting the Pharisees for their own sin and addressing their unbelief, Jesus then turned His attention to the people that believed on Him. In a word of encouragement, He said, “If ye continue in my word, then ye are my disciples indeed. And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”
How amazing it must be to know the truth and to be set free by it. It seems simple, yet liberating. Easy, yet hopeful.
Then, questions arise in our souls. Questions like the one that plagued Pilate, “What is truth (John 18:38)?” And, “From what are we being set free?”
To answer these questions, lets travel back in time to the days of Christ. Israel was under Roman occupation, and the people faced oppression, not only from the Roman government and military, but from many of their own people.
From the publicans who enriched themselves by extorting tax money from the people, to the religious leaders who enriched themselves by seizing power through the religious institutions. For the people who followed Jesus, there were few points of hope, save for one… that the Messiah would come and set everything straight.
As Jesus walked the earth, the people had become hopeful. The timing of the arrival of the Messiah was nearing as predicted by the Prophet Daniel. John the Baptist fulfilled scriptures in Isaiah concerning the forerunner to the Christ, and John himself pointed out Jesus as being that Christ.
As Jesus taught and ministered, many of the people came to believe that He was, in fact, the Christ that had been promised to deliver Israel. Those who followed found salvation, love, compassion and deliverance in His words.
The people who were constantly being called upon by their own religious leaders to sacrifice more, to suffer more, and to obey more, were being told by Jesus, “Come unto Me, and I shall give you rest.” And, for a time, they accepted that invitation.
Jesus knew that there would be those who would follow for a while, and leave. Indeed, it is a common thing when one is overcome with the struggles of life to cling to religion, or a religious leader, in order to find some sort of answer or resolution. Often, when that resolution is found, or when hope of a resolution is lost, the follower will fall back to their old ways.
It was that pattern that Jesus spoke to when He said, “If ye continue in my word, then ye are my disciples indeed.” The ones who are truly the followers of Christ are those who continue to follow and trust Him regardless of outcome, who continue with Him until the end.
That level of dedication leads one to know the truth.
What is truth?
Truth is objectively true, and which is true under any consideration. Truth is real regardless of how men may perceive it.
Regarding the Lord, truth is the reality of the Gospel, and the blessing of hope that comes through the Gospel.
Jesus told His followers that if they continued in His word, then they would truly be His disciples. They would know the truth of the Gospel, Who He is, and the truth of God’s grace, and thus they would be freed from the oppression of the religious leaders and the anxieties of living under Roman rule.
For us today, continuing in the word means continually learning the truth of the Gospel from the scriptures. The more we do that, the better we know and understand the Gospel, the more we know the truth, and the more we are set free by the truth.
Being set free by the truth means being freed from fear of God’s judgment, from the questions of whether we’re good enough to get into Heaven, and freed from the fears peddled to us by cable news. We have been set free, because we know the One who holds tomorrow, the One who holds us, and we know that our eternal life and deliverance is in His hand, not ours.
And that is liberating.