Study Series: The Gospel of John
Larger Context: Jesus’ Self-Disclosure in Word and Deed (1:19-10:42)
This Study: The Witness of Jesus’ Testimony at the Feast of Tabernacles (7:1-8:59) (Part Two)
The Witness of Jesus’ Testimony
at the Feast of Tabernacles (7:1-8:59)
An Adulteress meets the Light of the World (8:1-12)
V. 1 But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
While the religious leaders went to their homes (7:53), Jesus departed to the Mount of Olives. He had no place to lay His head. He lived as a pilgrim with eternity in view. Communion with His Father was His necessary delight (Luke 21:37-38; 22:39-46).
V. 2 Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to him and He sat down and taught them.
The outer court served as a venue for many scribes to gather their students around them and expound the law to them. Early the next morning Jesus returned and sat down to teach the people (sitting was the posture of the teacher; Matt. 26:55). Perhaps the early hour, was due to this being a work day, or perhaps to teach people before they left Jerusalem to travel home since the feast had now ended. Either way, the light of the world was dawning and would shine in Jerusalem and from there to the world (8:12).
We also make note of the word “all”. Many are confused by this word and use it in an absolute sense only. Confusion over the proper understanding and use of this word has led to confusion over issues such as the atonement.
V. 3-5 Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?”
Now enter the scribes and Pharisees, hindering the learning of the people with their own agenda. Most of the scribes (lawyers, theologians etc.) were Pharisees by conviction. They address Jesus respectfully as “teacher” when only the night before they called Him a deceiver. Who is really the deceiver here with flattering lips?
In addition, adultery is a sin that is not committed in isolation, so we naturally wonder why the man was not brought in with her. The next verse reveals to us that they are not concerned about justice, but rather their focus is trapping Jesus.
V. 6 This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.
It is commendable to ask questions in sincerity, but to use questions to set up your own agenda is deception. Using the law of Moses as a deceptive means to one’s own end is a misuse of God’s revelation. They refer to texts like Lev. 20:10 and Deut. 22:22-24 to set Jesus up. If He demanded her to be stoned, they could go to the Roman authorities (John 18:31) and this Man who received harlots and tax-collectors would lose face with crowd of sinners flocking to His gracious words. If Jesus did not uphold the law, He would show Himself to be an enemy of Moses and the law of God.
Jesus silently responds in fulfillment of Psalm 38:12-14. “Those also who seek my life lay snares for me; Those who seek my heart speak of destruction, and plan deception all day long. But I, like a deaf man, do not hear; and I am like a mute who does not open his mouth. Thus I am like a man who does not hear, and in whose mouth is no response.” (see also Amos 5:10-13) Oh they had no idea how low Jesus would stoop in the dust to receive sinners in a just forgiveness!
V. 7-8 So when they continued asking Him, He raised himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.
When Jesus responded He did so with a heart-searching reply. Jesus neither spurned the law, nor excused the prisoner’s guilt. He did not say that the woman had not sinned or that her sin was small. But He reminded her accusers that they were not the ones to bring a charge against her. Their own hands were not clean. In the net they spread, their own foot was taken!
Jesus makes reference to the very law they abused which clearly stated: “Whoever is deserving of death shall be put to death on the testimony of two or three witnesses; he shall not be put to death on the testimony of one witness. The hands of the witnesses shall be the first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people. So you shall put away the evil from you.” (Deut. 17:6-7)
Since the Scribes and Pharisees were the witnesses, would they dare to be her executioners? How men are zealous to condemn others for sins which they themselves are guilty. We ought to be more severe against sin in ourselves than others. Sinners are often far too anxious to play the judge. The truth is, we either are, or have been, or may be what he/she is … but for the grace of God! Do we really believe that?
We have no idea what Jesus wrote on the ground. However, in light of the close proximity of Jesus’ declaration of living water the day before, it is hard not to think of Jeremiah’s statement.
“O Lord, the hope of Israel, all who forsake You shall be ashamed. ‘Those who depart from Me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living waters.’” (Jer. 17:13) Let us look to the only One who is without sin. There alone can we find peace and joy and forgiveness. Only He can cleanse our conscience by His own death and condemnation for our sins.
V. 9-11 Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”
Before being shamed publicly, they withdrew (like Judah in Gen. 38:23-26). Fallen as human nature is, God has taken care to leave within every man a witness that will be heard (Rom. 2:15). Happy is the one who never quiets his conscience, but rather strives to keep it tender. Still happier is the one who prays to have it enlightened by the Holy Spirit and sprinkled with Christ’s blood. [See further notes on conscience in 2 Cor. messages #5 and #6.]
With the accusers gone, we have a sinner left alone at the bar with Jesus. With wonder we gaze upon His compassion and grace. How can He do this? This is unjust, is it not? No, for Christ will satisfy justice! Jesus did not say that she did not deserve to be condemned. Grace appears to make light of sin God’s grace does not. Behold the cross – behold the Lamb of God. Christ has come to silence the law’s demand for judgment. For this purpose He came, that He might save His people from their sins (John 3:17; 12:47). He Himself would be condemned for her. There is forgiveness and a place in the kingdom for adulterers and adulteresses who leave off their sin.
Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? What sweet words – “I do not condemn you!” Acquitted in the high court of heaven. We are not free to sin, but to go and sin no more (Psalm 85:8). Forsaking sin is the essence of repentance.
V. 12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
What an episode John gives to us in the life and testimony of Jesus! Indeed, this early morning (see v. 2), the true light was dawning! Jesus shines so pure and genuine in contrast to the darkness – the cloaked deception of the religious leaders. Christ is the light of the world. Thus He is expressing what He is in Himself – most excellent and glorious; and what He is to the world – the source of light. Since this was said in the treasury, where the golden lampstands would give their light, Jesus unveils His supremacy to the old pictures and types. He who follows Jesus, as the Israelites followed the pillar of bright cloud in the wilderness (as remembered in the symbolism of torch lights etc. in the feast of tabernacles), would have the light that brings and produces life (1 Peter 2:9). In fact, in the next chapter, Jesus will illustrate this truth by causing the blind man to see. Pluck out a man’s eyes who has this light (Jesus) and he will still see!
Light in John’s Gospel: John 1:4-9; 3:19; 9:5; 12:35,46.
The light metaphor is steeped in Old Testament allusions: Ex. 13:21-22; 14:19-25; Psalm 27:1; 36:9; 44:3; 90:8; 119:105; Prov. 6:23; Isa. 9:2; 42:6-7; 49:6; 60:1-3, 19-22; Hab. 3:3-4; Zech. 14:5b-7 gives the promise of continual light following the flow of living waters from Jerusalem. (See also Luke 2:29-32; Acts 13:47; 26:22-23).
As I reflect upon this whole episode, I find myself in wonder, for I recognize that I was a spiritual adulterer. I, too, had an accuser who caught me in the very act. But the Judge of all, the One who was without sin, who had every right to condemn me in my guilt, did not heed my accuser. Instead He stooped to the dust of this earth, even to the grave, that I would not be condemned. Oh may such grace move us to go and sin no more.
The Authority of Jesus’ Testimony (8:13-30)
V. 13-18 The Pharisees therefore said to Him, “You bear witness of Yourself; Your witness is not true.” Jesus answered and said to them, “Even if I bear witness of Myself, My witness is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from and where I am going. You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. And yet if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone, but I am with the Father who sent Me. It is also written in your law that the testimony of two men is true. I am the One who bears witness of Myself, and the Father who sent Me bears witness of Me.”
Light bears witness of itself – by its very presence. Thus, Jesus does bear true testimony of Himself. His opponents speak without knowing where He is from or where He is going. They lack the necessary knowledge to judge, yet they are constantly judging Christ, but according to fleshly standards (i.e. merely a countryman from Galilee – the son of Joseph). They lived according to their physical senses, and thus they wanted a carnal or fleshly Messiah and Deliverer and King. In verse 15, Jesus is saying that He does not judge anyone they way they do. He does not appeal to superficial, fleshly criteria, and mark people “up” or “down”. Jesus is not saying He does not judge in any sense. For in v. 16, He says when He judges, His judgment is true (see also John 5:22,27). Therefore any assessment Jesus gives now is and will prove right, for He stands with and judges only as He hears from the Father (see v. 26). Jesus has an inseparable union with the Father.
Jesus does bear witness of Himself, yet His witness is not alone standing against all other witnesses. Rather, His witness and words are in perfect conformity with the Father’s will (John 16:28), and certainly with the Father’s witness in the Scriptures.
When Jesus refers to it being “your law,” He is emphasizing that it is the very law they appeal to (i.e. Deut. 17:6; 19:15). The Father bears witness of Jesus in that very law!
In the Greek, “men” in verse 17 is emphatic. That may be promoting the idea, that if the testimony of two men is solid enough (i.e. totally reliable and trustworthy) to put someone to death, what about the testimony of the Son of God and the Father who completely agree? (See 1 John 5:9)
V. 19 Then they said to Him, “Where is Your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither Me nor My Father. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also.”
Once again Jesus testifies of His unique relationship with His heavenly Father. How often in John does Jesus say something, only to have it misinterpreted by others? Despite all their pretended wisdom, these “scholars” are ignorant of God. Their question reveals they neither know Jesus nor the Father. In and through Christ is the only way to draw near to so high and holy a Being as the true God. Christ is the way by which we must come to the knowledge of God. In Him, through Him, and by Him, we may come boldly into the Father’s presence and behold His high attributes without fear of being consumed. In and through Christ, the lowliest, humble sinner shall find out enough about God to make him happy forever!
V. 20 These words Jesus spoke in the treasury, as He taught in the temple, as he taught in the temple; and no one laid hands on Him, for His hour had not yet come.
The treasury was a very public place (Mark 12:41). The right hour would be determined by God Himself. They had the will to hurt, but not the power. When the time expired our Lord said, “But this is your hour and the hour of darkness” (Luke 22:53). What comfort for us as believers in Christ; to have a Father who is truly over all!
In this next section, Jesus will pick up on what He said in the previous verses and speak of:
- Where He comes from
- Where He is going
- Who His Father is
- Who Jesus is.
In speaking of who He is, He is going to show the great contrast between Himself and them:
- He is from above; they are from below
- They are from this world; He is not from this world
- Where He goes, they cannot come
- God is His Father; theirs is the devil.
Who then is the true Israel – the true son of God?
V. 21 Then Jesus said to them again, “I am going away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin. Where I go you cannot come.”
Christ warns them of His departure – as the glory departed from Israel in the days of Ezekiel. By “going away” Jesus is referring to His death, which is the means through which He will go to His Father.
When Jesus says, “you will seek Me,” He is not likely referring to Himself personally, but rather, the Messiah. However, they will not find Him, for they have rejected the only Messiah there is. Thus, they cannot come to enjoy the eternal happiness at His Father’s right hand.
In fact, they will die in their sin. The term here is singular, referring to the sin of unbelief; the sin of rejecting Jesus and the revelation that He is. Therefore they cannot come into the Father’s presence and be accepted. To reject the Son is to reject the Father (Jn. 5:23). Therefore they cannot come, for they have no right to come.
V. 22 So the Jews said, “Will He kill Himself, because He says, ‘Where I go you cannot come’?”
Of course, they are thinking of Him committing suicide. However, the irony is that there is a sense in which truth is being communicated once again unwittingly, as we have seen so often in John’s gospel. Jesus would indeed “go away” by voluntarily laying down His life – not in suicide, but in submission to the Father’s will – in a violent death meted out by His enemies.
V. 23-24 And He said to them, “You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”
The terms “beneath” and “of this world” refer to the fallen moral order in conscious rebellion against the Creator. Jesus is contrasting the realm of God and the realm of His fallen and rebellious creation. If they die in the kingdom below, that is, of this world, they will die in their sins. Here “sins” is plural referring to all the diverse and ugly forms of corruption that sprouts forth from the one sin of unbelief.
To die in one’s sins … horror of horrors. It causes us to shudder as we reflect on a sinner dying unpardoned, unforgiven, and unfit to meet God. His sins will not be left behind and forgotten, but the sins of the unbeliever will go to the grave with him. If you die in your sins, you will be cast before the righteous judge of all the earth, whose eyes are a flame of fire, with all your sins upon you.
It is not harsh to humbly and graciously warn of hell (Ezek. 3:19; 33:9). In fact, it is our Lord Jesus Christ, the loving, gracious, merciful, compassionate friend of sinners, who leads the way. To ignore the truth of coming judgment is a false love and a deception. There is a hell. It is the highest love to warn men plainly of danger and to beseech them to flee to the refuge from the wrath to come. Flee into the arms of Jesus, the only refuge for sinners. It was Satan, the deceiver, who declared to Eve, “You shall not surely die.” Was he just being loving; trying to look only to the positive side of things? Jesus is love. He speaks these words to warn, not to condemn. Someone has estimated that about one hundred people a minute die in their sins and go to hell. God, in Christ, has condescended to warn us.
The only possibility of escape lies in genuine belief. What is it they are to believe? Jesus says they must believe “that I am He.” (“ego eimi” – literally, “I am”) In hearing this we are reminded of the scene where Moses is confronted by God in the burning bush (Ex. 3:13-14). Jesus is greater than Moses. He is the one who sent Moses!
There is also a close parallel phrase found in Isaiah 43:10 (see context Isa. 43:8-11).
V. 25-26 Then they said to Him, “Who are You?” And Jesus said to them, “Just what I have been saying to you from the beginning. I have many things to say and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I heard from Him.”
Jesus responds to their question saying that the answer is the same as what He has communicated from the beginning. He has been consistent. His statements concerning Himself have always been the same. He is the very Word of the Father!
V. 27 They did not understand that He spoke to them of the Father.
Here John makes sure that we don’t misunderstand what they misunderstood.
V. 28-29 Then Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself, but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things. And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.”
When will the full disclosure of who Jesus is take place? When will His glory be most fully revealed? The answer is: when the Son of Man is lifted up – lifted up on the cross and lifted up to His Father’s presence (John 12:32- 34). As the serpent was lifted up on the pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:14-15).
Notice too, how this will be achieved through His enemies … “when you lift up the Son of Man.” There should never be any doubt as to who reigns in this universe. The Son of Man is a reference to Dan. 7:13-14 – the one who receives the everlasting kingdom from the Father.
What is meant by the phrase, “then you will know that I am He” (or “I am”)?
Different suggestions have been put forth. Some think that is referring to the fact that even those who do not believe will stand at the last day, condemned by Him whom they lifted up on the cross. That day when Jesus was hanging on the cross, they were blind to the glory that shone around them, yet the day would come when they would bow down and confess that Jesus is Lord. Others think Jesus is referring to the signs accompanying the crucifixion through which the Father would testify concerning His Son (i.e. darkness, temple veil torn, earthquake, resurrection etc.).
A third suggestion is that they will know once He has risen, ascended, and destroyed the temple and Jerusalem as He said would come upon that generation (Ezek. 33:33; Mark 14:61-62; Matt. 26:63-64). Another possibility given by some is that He is referring to their death. Then the reality of who He is would come crushing down on them. One thing that Jesus is making very clear, is that both His teaching and His going to the cross are nothing less than the Father’s will (John 16:32). In His Son, God is well-pleased (Isa. 42:1). It is most wonderful to ponder that Jesus never once looked back upon a day with regret. He always did those things that pleased His Father.
Now, fellow believers, because the Son of Man was lifted up, we too, are from above, and no longer below! We are no longer of this world (John 15:19) or of the devil (John 8:44)! Where Jesus has gone, we will come! O blessed thought; the best is yet to come!
V. 30 As He spoke these words, many believed in Him.
Many believed (for the Scriptures says that they did), but Jesus does not treat their belief as true belief, as we shall see. There is “belief” and then there is belief in John’s gospel. There is a belief which Jesus views as enduring and persevering and genuine, and there is a belief which Jesus views as spurious – which is interested in superficial things.
So many people were fascinated by Jesus’ power. They were fascinated by the miracles; by the signs; but they did not come to grips with a suffering servant who would be destroyed. They did not have a faith which took them to the cross – which they take up, dying daily. Jesus calls for disciples to follow Him – outside the camp! This is the kind of faith that embraces the fellowship of His sufferings – living as one not of this world.
The Children of Abraham (8:31-59)
John has already introduced the theme of “fickle faith” (2:23-25; 6:66). Now Jesus lays down exactly what it is that separates spurious faith from true faith – false disciples from genuine ones.
V. 31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
The term “abide” (Gr, “meno”) means “to stay” (i.e. in a given place, state, or relation). It can carry the idea of continuing, dwelling, enduring, remaining etc. (i.e. to make your home or rest or refuge here). Therefore, a genuine believer “holds fast” to Jesus’ teaching (2 John 9). He obeys it and finds it precious (John 15:4-10). It is not beginning, but continuing in one’s profession that is the test of true grace (Acts 13:43, 14:22; Rom. 11:22; Col. 1:23; Heb. 3:14, 10:38-39). The same word is found in 2 Tim. 3:14 and 1 John 2:19 and 24.
When Jesus says, “My disciples indeed”, He used the Greek word “alethos” which means “truly” or “of a truth” or “in reality.” (i.e. My real or true disciples). Jesus is never interested in numbers, but genuine believers. Therefore He insists that would-be disciples count the cost (Luke 9:59-62, 14:25-33). Up to this point it is unclear to the reader whether these “believers” will prove true or false. (Verse 33 makes it clear they do not receive His teaching. They cannot believe He is necessary for true freedom. They will not recognize their own slavery to sin.)
Perseverance is a mark of true faith – of real disciples – and it has some glorious consequences (such as v. 32)!
The Privilege of a True Disciple:
- You shall know the truth!
- The truth shall make you free!
Jesus is the truth (John 14:6)! The Spirit guides us into truth (John 16:13; 17:17; Isa 54:13; 61:1; Luke 4:18). Justification makes us free from the guilt of sin by which we were bound over to the judgment of God. Sanctification makes us free from the bondage of corruption by which we are enslaved.
To free is to set at liberty from dominion of sin – for that is the context of the nature of the slavery. The nature of the freedom correlates to the nature of the slavery (Rom. 6:14-18,22; 8:2; 2 Cor. 3:17; Gal. 5:13).
V. 33 They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, “You will be made free’?”
The people who answer Jesus here are the same people in verse 30. Here their attitude changes. The word of Jesus, implying that spiritually they were not free men but slaves, has shocked and angered them. Their pride resents such a remark. If Jesus offers them freedom, then the assumption is that the Jews are currently slaves. It seems to me that they are referring to their standing before God as sons of Abraham. They saw themselves as sons of Abraham who was a prince and a great man. Thus they were not descended as servants or slaves, but they saw themselves as “free-born” citizens of the kingdom of God. It does not seem likely that the Jews meant they had never been in political subjection to anyone. That would be absurd, for there was scarcely a major power whom the Jews had not served! Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Greece, and Rome had all held the Jews in political captivity. Thus it is more probable the Jews were referring to their spiritual and inward freedom and privilege with God. The Jews saw themselves as sons of the kingdom. Therefore they viewed themselves “whole” and in no need of a physician. They are convinced they are free and therefore need no deliverance but political. Here these “believers” are already demonstrating their unwillingness to hold to Jesus’ teaching.
V. 34 Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.
Ultimate bondage is not political or economic enslavement, but spiritual bondage to sin. While the Jews thought of themselves as free sons of Abraham, in reality, they were slaves of sin. The reigning dictator that they needed to be concerned about was not Caesar, but sinful self and its shameful, evil, and enslaving devotion to created things at the expense of the Creator. In fact, Caesar Himself is a slave. In His use of “whoever” Jesus wipes out the distinction between Jew and Gentile, to which they clung.
The one who “lives” in sin reveals he is enslaved. He is chained and cannot break the chain. Sin is a hard taskmaster – misery and disappointment along the way and despair and hell in the end. These are the ultimate wages that sin pays to its servants!
V. 35 And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever.
Now the thread goes on to the status of slaves. Their allegiance to the law of Moses as the source of their “freedom” is misguided. Moses is a servant. Jesus is the Son! (Heb. 3:5-6). [Compare Gen. 21:10 with Gal. 4:30-31; Rom. 8:15-17; Gal. 4:4-7]
The application is clear. The Jews think of themselves as sons (of Abraham) but in reality they are slaves. To be told they are slaves is to strike at the heart of their assurance, for a slave has no permanent place in the family. In the context (i.e. v. 36) the true son is Jesus Himself. Through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, believers are not just liberated and sent on their way, but the Judge adopts the freed individual as His own son. Only the true children will remain in the house.
V. 36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.
We live in a land of freedom; but are we ourselves free? There is a freedom that few ever think of – a freedom independent of all political changes. It is this freedom to which Christ refers – the glorious liberty of the sons of God!
- The only party I care for is the Lord’s side.
- The only election I’m anxious about is the election of grace.
- The government I care to support is the government which is on the shoulder of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; and before Christ, I want every knee to bow and every tongue to confess that He is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
If you are not free, I want to guide you unto true liberty. If you are free, I want you to know the full value of your freedom.
Even in political freedom, many Canadians do not know the value of freedom. They were born into the blessings of which they enjoy and they really have not idea of the state of things in other countries – ignorant of the cruel tyranny in many lands. We have personal freedom, civil freedom, religious freedom, and national freedom. Many nations have historically known the miseries of slavery (i.e. Israel, blacks etc.). However, temporal slavery is not the only slavery and temporal freedom is not the only freedom. There is a freedom held out to every child of Adam willing to have it. It is the freedom which Christ bestows without money and without price on all true Christians.
As the Son of God, with full rights, Jesus exercises full authority invested in Him by the Father (Jn. 3:35) to liberate slaves. If you see your chains, know of a surety that Christ came forth to deliver! Since God has taken it upon Himself the salvation of sinners, there is great hope! Death and hell are already conquered. The Redeemer has already taken possession of glory and will bestow it on all who come to Him. If you perish now, the blame lies wholly at your own feet. It is because you are not willing to come to Christ that you might have life.
Christ’s freemen are free from the guilt and consequences of sin by the blood of Christ.
Thus, they are forgiven, pardoned, reconciled, justified, and accepted in God’s sight. They can look back on their old sins – however black and however many – and say, “You cannot condemn me.” They can look back on years of carelessness and worldliness and say, “Who shall lay anything to my charge?” This is liberty indeed!
Christ’s freemen are free from the power of sin by the grace of God’s Spirit.
Through the power of Christ’s Spirit, they mortify the deeds of the body with its affections and lusts. They are tempted and tried, but not overcome. They are more than conquerors through Him who loved them. This is freedom indeed!
Christ’s freemen are free from the fear of man.
They are no longer afraid of man’s opinions. The fear of man was once a snare to them. They trembled at the thought of what man would say or think or do. They shrank back from the idea of standing alone. But that snare is now broken and they are delivered!
Christ’s freemen are free from the fear of death.
No longer is it that horrible thing which they do not care to think about. Through Christ, they can look this last enemy in the face and say, “You cannot harm me.” They can stand by the side of an open grace and say, “O, death, where is your sting? O, grave, where is your victory?” “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You, My Shepherd-Lord, are with me.” This is true freedom!
Christ’s freemen are free forever.
The freest citizen on earth will at length die and lose his privileges forever. But not so with Christ’s people. They will rise again with it at the last day and enjoy the privileges of it forevermore. This is to be free indeed!
How has Christ obtained these mighty privileges for His people?
How has He obtained such freedom for ones who were once enslaved? The freedom which Christ’s people enjoy has been accomplished like all other freedom; at a great cost and by a mighty sacrifice. Great was the bondage and therefore, great was the price necessary to be paid to set them free. Mighty was the enemy who claimed them as his captives, and it needed mighty power to release them from his grip.
Blessed be God! Is there not grace enough and power enough in Jesus Christ? He provided to the uttermost everything that was required to set His people free. The price was His own life-blood. He became their Substitute and paid all their debt by allowing the chastisement for their peace to be laid on Him (Isa. 53:5). He cleared them from every imputation of sin, by becoming sin for them (2 Cor. 5:21). As their Champion, He triumphed over the devil and disarmed principalities and powers, making a public spectacle of them – triumphing over them in the cross. Christ, having given Himself for us, has purchased the full right of redemption for us.
Christ is every way fit to be a Savior of sinners – and He alone. He has power sufficient; wisdom sufficient; merit sufficient; and love sufficient for completing the work of freeing us from the tyranny of sin, and into the happiness of true liberty (in fact, a greater happiness experienced than had we never known bondage).
You can never value this freedom too highly. For the rest of our days let us use every effort to promote spiritual emancipation. If we have tasted the blessings of freedom, let us spare no pains to spread the truth by which men are set free.