We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been in bondage to anyone…(John 8:33).
It is obvious, and yet, is it really? It is obvious that the people who spoke these words had a false sense of…of what? Security? Righteousness? Spirituality? Approbation of God? They trusted in their religious upbringing; or perhaps some of them had been irreligious at one time but then they aligned themselves with a branch of Judaism. In either case, they had never been in bondage to anyone.
We wouldn’t do that. We wouldn’t trust in our religious upbringing, would we? We wouldn’t trust in one of the many expressions of Christendom in which we have found a home. Didn’t these folk have good reasons to think as they did? The pomp and ceremony and tradition of the Temple must have been impressive. The collective memory of hundreds of years, the Law, the Prophets, the Writings, along with rabbinical teaching must have given people good reason to root their identities in a branch of Judaism. Along comes Jesus who speaks of destroying the Temple, of worshipping God in Spirit and truth, claiming to be the Bread of Life, the Light of the World, the Resurrection and the Life, the Good Shepherd – that does seem a bit much.
I can see myself saying, “We’ve never been in bondage!” I can see myself saying this because there have been times, and perhaps still are, when my identity has been more rooted in a movement or doctrine or manner of life than it has been rooted in Jesus Christ. It happens. Maybe it hasn’t happened to you but it sure has happened to me more than once. And during those times the idea that perhaps there is something amiss, either in me or in the movement or doctrine du jour has been an idea that I quickly put out of my mind.
So I look at these people proclaiming that they’ve never been in bondage to anyone and I see this as a warning, a warning to me that Jesus Christ will confront anything in which I attempt to root my identity - He will have none of that – and He will see whether I will admit my need for Him, whether I will lose myself in Him that I might find myself in Him.
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians Chapter One: But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.