They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word. I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father.”
Jesus has just made a profound statement: "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." The Jews, perhaps feeling a mix of resentment and pride, respond, "We are Abraham's descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?"
This claim is laughable. The Israelites had been enslaved multiple times throughout their history. They were enslaved in Egypt for 400 years! The Exodus, their liberation from Egyptian bondage, is one of the most celebrated events in Jewish history. Later, they were subjugated by the Babylonians, Persians, and Greeks, and at the time of this dialogue, they were under Roman occupation. How could they claim they had never been slaves?
So, why this claim of never having been enslaved? Perhaps it was a matter of pride, a refusal to acknowledge their subjugation. Or maybe it was selective amnesia, where they preferred not to remember the pains of the past.
Jesus redirects the conversation from physical to spiritual bondage: "Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin." The implication is that true bondage is not political or social but spiritual. While they might pride themselves on their Abrahamic lineage, Jesus points out their actions and unbelief betray them. If they were truly Abraham's children in spirit and truth, they would recognize and accept him.
It is ironic how the very people who prided themselves on their spiritual roots were blind to the spiritual realities Jesus was revealing. They were in bondage to their traditions, pride, and sins, yet they couldn't recognize the one person who could truly set them free.
This is a warning to us. It's easy to become ensnared by our own narratives. It is easy to become trapped by traditions or pride. Consequently, we miss seeing deeper spiritual truths. True freedom doesn't come from lineage, status, or self-righteousness but from a genuine relationship with Jesus, who liberates us from the chains we often don't even realize we're wearing.
Let us develop such a relationship with Jesus. Then, as he said, we will know the truth, and the truth will set us free.
God bless you.