A Passage and A Prayer


“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”  34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”  John 8:31-36

Slavery is an ugly thing to look at.

When we lived in Ghana in the late 1990’s, we visited Elmina Castle on a number of occasions.  Elmina was one of the largest stops for the Atlantic slave trade, operated first by the Portuguese and then by the Dutch. To listen to the stories of how Africans were herded like cattle, died of dysentery and cholera, and were physically and sexually abused and exploited was difficult. 

Slavery is an ugly thing to look at.

The response of the Jews in our text above is amazing.  Of course the Israelites had been enslaved.  They had been enslaved for 400 years by the Egyptians, and as they spoke to Jesus, it was the Romans who ultimately were in control.

Slavery is an ugly thing to look at.

But there is something worse, much worse.  And that’s spiritual slavery.  Spiritual slavery is an ugly thing to look at!  Because slavery to sin has eternal consequences.  And Jesus came to break the spiritual chains they bind all who sin – all of us.

By that ugliest of all punishments, reserved for the worst kind of criminal, Jesus turned the ugliness of slavery to sin to the beauty of true freedom. 

Some might say the crucifix – Jesus hanging on the cross – is an ugly thing to look at.  I say that it’s the most beautiful of all artwork, because it shows the lengths to which our Savior went to break our bondage to sin.

Freedom in Christ is a beautiful thing to look at. 

Gracious Father in Heaven, slavery to sin is ugly.  And we’re all sinners, so we’re all slaves to sin.  Yet by Your grace we know what Jesus did for us.  We know that our slavery to sin has been broken by His death for us.  We know that we are truly free.  Accept our thanks and praise for sending Jesus, and strengthen us to share what He has done for us with more and more people.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.