Freedom in the Father’s House

Daily Devotion | Day 320

“Jesus answered them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed’” (John 8:34-36, NKJV).

In John 8:31-59, Jesus had a tense exchange with certain Jews who believed in Him. The debate centered mainly around freedom, slavery and sonship. Jesus opened the conversation by stating that if they wanted to be His disciples, they had to abide in His word (v. 31). At this point everything was fine. Then Jesus dropped a bombshell when He said: “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (v. 32). The Jews were startled and took exception to Jesus’ statement (v. 33).

On the surface, there seems to be nothing offensive about what Jesus said. But the Jews did not see it that way. Jesus’ words implied that they were in bondage. In other words, He meant that they were not royals, but slaves. The Jews understood the implication of what the Lord said. This explains their reply in v. 33: “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never being in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?” The Jews were right. Technically, they were ‘free’ people, because they were the ethnic descendants of Abraham. This could not be debated.

However, they missed Jesus’ point. He was describing their spiritual condition. And as the conversation progressed, He shed more light on the issue. The first clarification of His statement is found in today’s opening passage (John 8:34-36). In the passage, Jesus explains what He means by “slavery” as well as the difference between a son and a slave. Let us examine the passage.

Jesus said, “whoever commits sin is a slave of sin” (v. 34). In making this statement, He defined the meaning of spiritual bondage. Earlier, the Jews challenged Jesus when He suggested that they were slaves. But now He clarifies Himself by stating that in His eyes a slave is anyone who commits sin. Jesus implied that the Jews He spoke to were in sin, and therefore they were in bondage.

Contrary to what they thought, they were not royals. Therefore, when Jesus said, “the truth shall make you free,” He meant, “the truth shall make you free from committing sin. And when you are free from committing sin, then you are no longer a slave but a royal indeed.”  It is the same thing He meant when He said, “if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (v. 36). The Son is the truth which makes us free, because He is truth personified (John 14:6).

Next, Jesus explains that he who is made free from sin is a son (a royal) as opposed to the one who is not free from sin (a slave). Then He tells us the ‘residential status’ of the son and the slave with respect to the Father’s house: “A slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever.” This means the one who is made free from sin (the royal) has a permanent place in the Father’s house. But a slave’s status is temporary, at best. Sooner or later, he would be asked to leave.

We will conclude today’s message by applying it to The Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32).

The prodigal son relinquished his position as a son when he left the house for a life of sin (the life of a slave). When he came to his senses, he knew (rightly so) that he had lost his place as a son (15:18-19). But when he returned, the father had compassion on him and reinstated him to the position of a son. The change in status is evident from the father’s own words: “this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found” (15:24).

Notice that the younger son used to be alive (while still in his father’s house). But when he left the father’s house, he died (spiritual death). When he returned, he found life again. In contrast, listen to what the father told the older son who did not leave the house, “Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours” (15:31). 

Jesus came to redeem us from sin that we might live as royal priests. The Father wants us to be always with him. Let us therefore remain in His house, for in His presence is fullness of joy and liberty. Amen.

For further studyRomans 6:8-23; 8:1-11

The Kingdom Power Within Us

Daily Devotional: Day 199

“Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20-21).

For several centuries, the Israelites were expecting the Messiah’s arrival. However, they didn’t have the same kind of expectations. Many, especially the religious leadership, expected the Messiah to be a political leader who would establish a physical kingdom and redeem Israel from their political enemies. This will explain why when Herod heard about the birth of Jesus, he panicked – supposing that Jesus would come for his throne (cf. Matthew 2:1-3). Others, however, had more spiritual and religious expectations.

In today’s Bible passage, the Pharisees ask Jesus when the kingdom of God would come. He responds by stating that the kingdom of God does not come with observation. It’s not ‘here!’ or ‘there!’ In other words, God’s kingdom has no geographical parameters. You will see the effects of the kingdom, but the kingdom has no physical structures. It cannot be identified with any nation, kingdom or system in the world.

The kingdom of God spreads its influence through righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (cf. Romans 14:17) manifested by believers – children of the kingdom. When Jesus stood before Pilate, He minced no words about the nature of His kingdom, “My kingdom is not of this world” (cf. Matthew 18:36), He declared. Speaking to the Pharisees, Jesus added, “the kingdom of God is within you.” To most Israelites of His day, Jesus’ definition of the kingdom was disappointing and unsatisfactory. They expected a Messiah who would give them something more than an invisible kingdom. The kind of ‘kingdom’ Jesus offered wasn’t good enough. No wonder the majority rejected Him.

For us today, Jesus’ message about the kingdom is no different. He wants us to have the right expectations and knowledge about how the kingdom of God works. Jesus says that the kingdom of God is within us. That makes us special people endowed with supernatural and royal power. It would, therefore, be a mistake for Christians to seek God’s kingdom in the physical world and its systems.

It would further be erroneous to look for God’s kingdom in a physical location, including even the church building. God does not dwell in a temple made with human hands (cf. Acts 7:47-50). Jesus is not in a room, box or tabernacle made with human hands. Rather, He lives in us. His presence, His power and His Kingdom, is within us who make up the Body of Christ. We don’t need to look far for deliverance. Let’s learn – through faith – to recognize Jesus’ power, grace and deliverance at work within us. And let’s spread the influence of His kingdom wherever we go. 

God bless you!

For further study: 1 Peter 2:1-10