True Freedom

Sunday, October 30, 2022
Pastor Deb Kielsmeier 

John 8:31-36

Happy Reformation Sunday everyone!

Today we look back to remember and celebrate the great Re-formation of the Christian Church. And we give thanks for and those who boldly went before us to proclaim the good news that It is by grace that we have been saved through faith. It is not by our works, but it is a gift of God through Jesus Christ. Thanks be to God.

We don’t only look back however, for the Spirit is still on the move today, renewing and reforming our…. both as individuals and as the church.

Today’s scripture speaks about truth and our freedom in Christ. Themes at the heart of the Reformation. Martin Luther’s own spiritual journey brought him into a place of deep freedom as he encountered truth – both the truth of the Gospel and the one who claimed to be the truth – Jesus Christ. And that living truth not only transformed his life, but all of history.

In our passage for today Jesus is talking to people who had already expressed belief in him. He tells them:

If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” 


I have a question for you.

Last week. Jason talked about Fred Rogers – Mister Rogers – the children’s television host.

I would like a show of hands.

How many of you know about Fred Rogers?

Okay, a lot of us.

You may know his song – It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood – or that he taught children that they are special – valued – and loved – just the way they are.

Some of you may have seen the movie about him starring Tom Hanks or watched his TV show. I still remember my children being so engaged by him that they would answer his questions out loud and talk to him on the T.V.

But now, here is another question. How many of you know Mr. Rogers? In other words, you have personally met him, talked with him, or shared some experience?

There is a difference between knowing about someone – and knowing someone personally.   

We may know a fair amount about Jesus. We may know when and where he was born, what he taught, and the miracles he performed.

But knowing Jesus personally? That is a different kind of knowing.

One of the amazing things about our faith, is that we proclaim that Jesus is still alive. He died, but death could not hold him. He is still here we can meet him. Walk with him, talk with him, and know him personally

One caveat.

In body, Jesus is with the Father. We can’t physically see Jesus in the flesh.  BUT we can come to know him through the power of the Holy Spirit.

How do we do that?

Well, if you wanted to meet and get to know someone, what would you do?  You would spend time with them, right? You would visit them or go for coffee or maybe work on a project together.

Why? Because spending time with them, talking and listening, is how we get to know someone better.

This is exactly how we come to know Jesus.

Jesus says in today’s passage that If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, 

That word translated “continue” here is Meno in the Greek. Meno.

It means to continue, to remain, to abide, to stay, to dwell.

Dwelling in Jesus’ word, involves listening to Jesus, reflecting on what he says to you and holding fast to his teaching.

When we dwell with Jesus and his message, we are true disciples. Disciples are not like today’s students who sit in a few lectures each week to learn from a teacher.

No. Disciples lived with their rabbi. They lived and ate with him, walked, and talked with him, listened to him, imitated him, followed him everywhere – that they might become like him. It was personal, deep, and experiential. They KNEW their rabbi. And so too, we can know Jesus as we abide with him


If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” 


The phrase You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free is often chiseled in stone above the entrance of university buildings. Often in Latin.

But by itself, taken out of its context – it is something of a philosophical platitude that completely misses Jesus’ point.

In this Gospel, “truth” is not some philosophical ideal or the opposite of falsehood; it is Jesus.

Jesus said, I am the Truth. It is me. A person.


Jesus is not insisting that they subscribe to a new doctrine or confession. This isn’t about head knowledge so much as relational knowledge. Knowing the truth is knowing Jesus in a deeply personal way as we live with him and remain connected to him and his word.

…and this truth will make you free.” 


Well – When Jesus says this, he totally offends his hearers.

“We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, ‘You will be made free’?”

As Americans I think we would have a similar reaction.

After all, we live in the “land of the free and home of the brave.”

We love our freedoms and strive to be independent and self-sufficient.

Of course, we are free!

But are we?

We may think freedom is about personal liberties – being able to do whatever we want, whenever we want and with whomever we want.

But when we insist on going our own way – we end up in bondage to sin.

You may think you are free. But we all end up serving something. It may be your ego, your finances, your career, your reputation…  it may be the approval of others, a certain identity, or a dream. But in the words of Bob Dylan’s song: You gotta serve somebody.

Listen to these lyrics:

You may be an ambassador to England or France
You may like to gamble, You might like to dance

You may be the heavyweight champion of the world
You might be a socialite with a long string of pearls

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody
Yes indeed, you’re gonna have to serve somebody
Well it may be the devil, or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody

Friends, you can live for yourself.

And you can place your hope and trust in something other than God.

But you will not be free.


Because only the son of God brings true freedom.

Freedom from enslavement to sin.

Freedom to truly live.

Freedom to abide forever in the father’s house.

This freedom is our salvation.

Here is an interesting fact. Martin Luther was born Martin Luder. L-U-D-E-R.

Not a bad name. But he changed his last name from “Luder” to “Luther” because it sounded like the Greek word for freedom eleutheria.

El – loo- ther- ee-ah.  El – loo – ther -ee- ah.

Say that with me, will you? El – loo – ther -ee- ah.


Elutheria in the New Testament is used synonymously with salvation. It is true freedom.  Freedom from the bondage of sin. Freedom to be and do all that God has created you to be. Freedom to follow the one who gives life and gives it abundantly. Freedom to dwell in the father’s house, now and forever.

For if the son makes you free, you will be free indeed.


Let us pray:

Lord God – we cannot free ourselves. We cannot save ourselves. Only your Son can set us truly free. Forgive our wayward hearts.

Come and dwell with and in us, reforming and renewing us each day as we walk with you.

In Jesus Name, we pray. Amen.

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