“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed Him, If you abide in My Word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’ They answered Him, ‘We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that You say, “You will become free”?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.'” (John 8:31-36 ESV)
This passage bugs me a bit. Jesus is talking to the Jews who had believed in Him—and yet, He has to say, “If you abide in My Word, you are truly My disciples”—as if there was some doubt about their faith. And sure enough, at the end of the conversation, they are picking up stones to kill Him.
It looks like “abiding” is the test of a disciple. It’s easy to be all for Jesus for a moment—a wonderful day, a peak spiritual experience. But what about when things get hard? What about when He starts saying things we don’t like—pointing out our sin and casting doubt on our respectability? What about when He says things that offend us—claiming to be the one and only way to the Father, the One who gives life and raises the dead—with complete authority over us? What about when He discusses His suffering and death—and makes it clear that He’s going to do things God’s way, no matter how foolish or useless it may look to the world?
Then it gets harder. Then we find out if we really are His—or if we just went along for the ride for a little while. Real faith comes from the Holy Spirit. Nobody else can take self-righteous rebels like us and make us into beloved children of God. Nobody else can keep us as Jesus’ disciples—people who know that He has saved us at the cost of His life, and who love Him back wholeheartedly. As Peter said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that You are the Holy One of God” (John 6:68b-69 ESV).
Prayer: Lord Holy Spirit, give me this true, abiding faith. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
Used by permission from International Lutheran Laymen’s League, all rights reserved
1. What do you find most difficult about Jesus, personally?
2. What do you think He finds most difficult about you?
3. How has the Holy Spirit worked in your life to keep you with Jesus?