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Jesus: the truth that sets us free

February 2, 2023

Daily Scripture

John 8:23-36

23 He said to them, “You are from below; I’m from above. You are from this world; I’m not from this world. 24 This is why I told you that you would die in your sins. If you don’t believe that I Am, you will die in your sins.”
25 “Who are you?” they asked.
Jesus replied, “I’m exactly who I have claimed to be from the beginning. 26 I have many things to say in judgment concerning you. The one who sent me is true, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.” 27 They didn’t know he was speaking about his Father. 28 So Jesus said to them, “When the Human One [or Son of Man] is lifted up [or exalted], then you will know that I Am. Then you will know that I do nothing on my own, but I say just what the Father has taught me. 29 He who sent me is with me. He doesn’t leave me by myself, because I always do what makes him happy.” 30 While Jesus was saying these things, many people came to believe in him.
31 Jesus said to the Jews who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teaching. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 They responded, “We are Abraham’s children; we’ve never been anyone’s slaves. How can you say that we will be set free?”
34 Jesus answered, “I assure you that everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 A slave isn’t a permanent member of the household, but a son is. 36 Therefore, if the Son makes you free, you really will be free.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Scholar N. T. Wright said the flood of false spin tech delivers can be deeply consequential. “Verse 32 rings like a great bell through so much Christian language: free from sin, free from slavery, free from the law, free from death, free from injustice, free from debt, free from tyranny…. The way to freedom is through the truth, and what matters therefore is to know the truth. Tyranny and slavery of every sort thrive on lies, half-truths, evasions and cover-ups. Freedom and truth go hand in hand.” *

  • The “truth” Jesus spoke of was, above all, that he was truly God in human flesh. That truth had more than just “spiritual” effects. “Ideas like individual rights, limited sphere of government, separation of the freedom of worship from the power of the state, and freedom of conscience would all be a part of reflecting on what Jesus meant when he talked about ‘that which belongs to Caesar’ [Matthew 22:16-21].” ** How has Jesus brought you greater inner and outer freedom?
  • “Gaslighting” means trying to rewrite history into a version that favors ideas we like. Jesus’ hearers did that in verse 33: “we’ve never been anyone’s slaves.” In fact, Israel’s faith was defined by having been slaves in Egypt, freed by God’s power (cf. Deuteronomy 5:15; 15:15; 16:12; 24:18, 22). Doctors and business advisors often tell us that “facts are our friends.” What makes accuracy so vital in our use and sharing of free-floating tech information, as well as in our personal life?

Lord Jesus, you were the ‘truth of God” in human flesh. You said “the truth will set you free.” Free me to clearly see truth as you saw it, and to live it out in your spirit and your strength. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Janelle Gregory

Janelle Gregory

Janelle Gregory serves on the Resurrection staff as Human Resources Lead Director. Janelle finds that her heart is constantly wrestling with the truth that she needs a Savior, and the times when she's at her very best are when she's just too tired to put up a fight.

Ooooh! I’m super excited. I recently applied for TSA precheck. Not only will I not have to remove my shoes at the airport, but prechecked passengers often have a much shorter security line. Woohoo! The TSA precheck application asks you all sorts of questions. What is your date of birth? What is your address? How tall are you? What do you weigh? What is your hair color? I was doing pretty well on answering their questions until that last one. What is my hair color? I can ask my hairdresser for the specific name of the dye she uses, but is that what the Transportation Security Administration wants? Are they looking for “cherry brown” or are they wanting to know what’s under that? I’ll be honest. I’m not even sure what is under that. I know it was once a mousy brown before I started coloring my hair over 20 years ago. Since then, it’s been blonde, black, red, sometimes a couple of colors at once. But for the last 16 years or so, it’s landed on cherry brownish. Every once in a while, I get a glimpse of the true color beneath when I see hair growth at the roots. If I had to take a guess, it’s likely mousy brown with a good mix of gray. I’m sure it’s fine, but apparently it’s not fine enough for me to stop regularly coloring it. I think the color I’ve chosen is prettier, but it’s also a lie. Why do I pay for and spend a good chunk of time on creating this lie? Because I think it looks better, and I think you’ll think it looks better. I choose to hide the truth. I choose to hide the mousy brown gray.

I don’t feel that badly when it comes to hiding hair color, but often the lies that we tell are deeper and more detrimental than simply disguising the color of your hair. We’re prone to cover up the parts of us that aren’t as appealing. We don’t want to seem less-than or flawed, so we tend to gloss over those aspects of ourselves when interacting with others. We convince ourselves that who we are on a bare-soul level isn’t good enough. We feel the need to disguise the truth to fit in with society, to be wanted, to be loved. And we might be fooling others. Perhaps they don’t see our failings. Perhaps. My guess is that like my roots, the truth is exposed from time to time.

But when we grow and embrace ourselves as those who are walking in the grace of Christ, we don’t have a need to hide. It’s not like we’re fooling God. He sees through our greatest disguises. God looks at who we are and what we’ve done, and he invites us to live in the freedom of redemption. When we truly grasp that we are deeply accepted and loved, we can let down our guards and allow our true selves to shine through. As Brennan Manning put it in his book Abba’s Child, “Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is illusion.”

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* Wright, N.T., John for Everyone, Part 1: Chapters 1-10 (The New Testament for Everyone) (p. 122). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.

** Ortberg, John, Who Is This Man? (p. 113). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.