Even though people are bound, they often do not realize their predicament. This is particularly highlighted in Jesus’ confrontation with his fellow Jews: “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teachings, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32).
Like much of God’s Word, these words immediately caused a reaction. “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?’” The fact that Jesus implied that they were bound caused offense; they were of too great a stock to be considered slaves. Immediately they appealed to their ancestry. We do the same when we look for refuge in our parent’s faith or in the church we attend. Confessing that you are bound is a very humbling thing, but it is the beginning of true discipleship. The true disciple says, “I am bound but your words Jesus’ will set me free!”
Jesus elaborates on the meaning of his words regarding freedom. And this shows us that many misunderstand the sayings of Jesus. This misinterpretation of God’s Word is further confirmation of our predicament of being enslaved. If we were free, we could understand, but because we are bound, we fight against truth. “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” (vv. 34-36).
Jesus explains that anyone who sins is a slave to sin. When a human being commits his first act of disobedience to God, whether he realizes it or not, he becomes shackled. No matter how hard he tries, he cannot free himself. He is like a bird caught in a snare––he may wiggle, worm and strain but all of his efforts just plunge him into a far worse situation. His freedom can only come from the outside, from one who is humble enough to bow down and set him free from the snare.