Occasionally, we will reprint prior devotions that now reflect on the coming lectionary texts. This is a reprint from a devotion originally published on October 20, 2014.
Prayer: Most merciful God, we confess that we are captive to sin and cannot free ourselves. Amen.
Reading: John 8:31-38 (Click to read text)
Stop and GROW: After reading the text, discuss/ponder the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's Book of Faith questions, which are part of Camp Mount Luther's GROW Time with campers.
QUESTION 1: What scares, confuses, challenges, or doesn’t make sense to me in this text?
QUESTION 2: What delights me in this text or is my favorite part of the story?
QUESTION 3: What stories or memories does this text stir in me?
QUESTION 4: What is God up to in this text?
Reflection: Even the Jews who believed in Jesus were confused when he spoke to them about freedom. They understood that their Jewishness meant that they were always free. (Somehow they must have forgotten about their ancestor’s long sojourn in Egypt.) So what did Jesus mean when he speaks to them about freedom?
We, too, are probably a bit confused by this conversation about freedom. What does Jesus mean? We may first think of freedom in the political realm. We in the the United States enjoy many freedoms that some in other places do not. We often see and hear, “This is a free country.” So there is that.
There is also economic freedom. We also hear about “free market economy.” That is the basis of our economic system. And whatever else that does for us, it makes it possible for us to have a large range of choice in supermarkets. Lots of stuff to choose from and the economic freedom to choose.
Confused about what Jesus meant about freedom?
I was, too, until I looked at the whole thing in context. Jesus talks about sin, truth and then freedom. If we know the truth we will be free. Free from what? The truth about what? Free from sin and the truth about ourselves. See, at times we convince ourselves that we are o.k. That somehow we free ourselves from sin. Actually that is not the truth. Our liturgy has it right: “Most merciful God, we confess that we are captive to sin and cannot free ourselves.” There it is. That’s the truth. Now what? “So if (read ‘since’) the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” What a nice place to be led by the truth. We can’t free ourselves from sin. Jesus can. Jesus does.
Now, that’s independence day!! --Jim Bricker, Chaplain to Camp Mount Luther’s Summer Staff
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