31 ¶ Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. 33 They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? 34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. 35 And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. 36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. 37 I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you.
Jesus states that if these new believers are truly His disciples they will be faithful to His words. A disciple is someone who is willing to give up everything to follow Jesus.
Luke 14:33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
The disciples were first called Christians at Antioch (Acts 11:26). Many of those today who call themselves Christians are not His, “disciples indeed.” They have elected to follow men, not God, and have substituted political dogma, cultural beliefs, and personal bigotry for the doctrine that came from Christ and His Apostles. They have replaced Christ’s doctrine with their own convictions and a self-righteous elitism that places themselves on the throne or an apathy that regards God as a mere idea in their mind and not a person worthy of their worship.
Do we continue in His word? How many of you have even read the Bible from cover to cover or listened to it read one time? How many of you regard God’s words of grace as being important enough to occupy a considerable part of your day? Jesus refers to the Scriptures, says, “it is written,” referring to the written, word many times, and refers to His spoken words which He will have disciples put to writing. If the written word is important to Christ, why is it not important to you? Can you truly be His disciple if you don’t regard as important what He regards as important? You say, “but, I am doing things for God. I belong to the right political party. I believe the right things about right and wrong. I do many acts of service for God. I faithfully listen to people talk about His word.” These Jews would have made the same profession, I assure you.
Christ is the truth as He will say Himself very soon, in chapter 14. If you continue in His word you will know the truth and the truth shall make you free according to that knowledge.
One likely explanation of these passages following is that the ones who said they had never been anything other than free were Jews and Pharisees of verses 13 and 22 but I am going to take a different tack than that just by the literal structure of the sentences.
The Jews, and these are the new believers amazingly, respond by making the absurd claim that, by virtue of their heritage in Abraham, they have never been in bondage to any man. Of course, we know that they had been in bondage to many nations from Egypt to Rome. But, Jesus isn’t talking about politics. He is talking about their bondage to sin, sin against God. The only freedom that they can possibly have from that is through Him, regardless of their heritage.
People often, but not always, tend to wear their personal sins on their bodies as they get older. The bowling ball beer paunch of the late middle-aged man, the dried-out tanned-too-much lizard look of the late middle-aged woman are examples of man and woman’s love of the flesh and pride of vanity. But, there are many more sins that don’t show an outward appearance necessarily on one’s face or belly such as bitterness, envy, hatred, sloth, apathy and contempt for God.
The Jews had created their own religion which was far from what God had originally intended for them. It was a system of rules and regulations that not only did not bring them closer to God but created themselves as a type of their own gods. Like many American Christians in history and now they spent too much time patting themselves on the back to have their hands together in prayer.
Jesus casts doubt on these new believers’ sincerity and accuses them of trying to kill Him. This seems a strange way to talk to people who appear to want to follow you now but as He talks to them it becomes more clear that their faith is a shallow one and does not bear close examination like many a modern Christian in America who, like Peter will do, proclaims their belief in Christ but denies Him at a crucial moment. So, this passage began with, “if ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed,” and ends with, “my word hath no place in you.”