So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. (Mark 8:36).
Friday week ago, the residents of greater Melbourne celebrated FREEDOM DAY! They celebrated the first day of easing of restrictions that they had been enduring for the past couple of months. Whilst the people of greater Melbourne are enjoying an easing of restrictions, there are still many restrictions limiting their freedom. Just as there are restrictions here in regional Victoria.
In Mark 8, Jesus is talking about true freedom! Jesus is not talking about freedom to travel where we like. Nor is he talking about freedom to do what we like. Jesus is talking about freedom from slavery to sin! Jesus is talking about freedom to be a disciple of Jesus!
Jesus is talking to the Jews who had believed in him. (John 8:31). Jesus is speaking to a group of Jews who had stopped believing the word that he was speaking to them. These Jews believed that because they are descendants of Abraham, that they are not slaves to anyone.
Jesus’ word to these Jews reminds them that they are not free. Jesus says: Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. (John 8:34). There is a slavery that effects everyone. Everyone who continually commits sin is enslaved or bound by sin. Paul reminds us of this harsh reality when he writes: For there is not distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:22-23). Everyone, including the descendants of Abraham have been born into sin. Everyone is a slave to sin. Nobody can free themselves from the bondage of sin.
The only one who can free us is Jesus. As the divine Son of God, Jesus has opened the way for all people to be free from sin and its terrible consequences. Paul reminds us how Jesus did this when he goes onto say: …they are now justified by his grace as a pure gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice for the atonement by his blood effective through faith. (Romans 3: 24-25).
Jesus paid the terrible price for our sins and for the sins of the world. He did this by offering himself as the perfect sacrifice on the cross. Because Jesus did this on behalf of all fallen sinners, the way is now clear for all people to receive the benefits of his death and resurrection. These benefits include the gift of forgiveness. The gift of salvation, where we are set free once and for all from the consequences of sin. These gifts are available to anyone who joins to Jesus in faith. Everyone who is joined to Jesus in faith will be truly free!
Truly free to be a follower of Jesus. To be a disciple of Jesus means to hear his word and believe it. Jesus says: If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth and the truth will make you free (John 8:31). Jesus also says: So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36). True freedom means that we are free to follow Jesus.
On Sunday we Commemorated the Reformation. The Reformation happened because the Roman Catholic Church at that time was in a bad shape. For years it had been plagued by corrupt and inept leaders. It was a time of much ignorance and superstition. Very few church members knew much about the Bible. Teachings by the church, including false teachings were held up by the church leaders as the supreme authority. The Gospel of God’s forgiveness as a free gift, which is given through faith in Jesus Christ was largely forgotten and seldom proclaimed. People were taught to rely on their own good works to be right with God. This meant that many, many people at that time were slaves to sin.
God raised up faithful people (including Martin Luther) who started to question the false teachings and practises of the church at that time. They did this on the basis of scripture. They used the word of God to expose the false teachings and practises that were happening in the church. Slowly but surely, people were brought back to the centrality of the Gospel. Slowly but surely people began to hear the good news that their standing before God is dependant entirely on God’s grace and mercy shown to them through Jesus. People heard once again that by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ, they were truly free!
Today, we need to continue to listen to Jesus’ words, to believe them and follow him alone as our Lord and Saviour. Today, we need to hear that we are truly free by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
Lord God, free your people from their offences.
Through your great goodness
release us all from the net of our sins
which has entangled us because of our frailty.
We ask this through your Son,
Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns
with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever.