So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:31-38)
What does it mean to believe in Jesus? Belief is faith. To believe is to have faith. We confess in the third article of the creed that we cannot believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord unless the Holy Spirit calls us by the Gospel. The Holy Spirit had called these Jews by the incarnate Word. What does incarnate mean? [To become flesh.] Our God has taken flesh and blood and become man just like you and me. As the incarnate One, God has come to us where we are. He isn’t only a God who rules from heaven, he is also the God who comes to dwell where we are.
The Second Person of the Trinity comes into the world as the Son of Mary and the Son of God (He is both Man and God at the same time and always will be). This Word made flesh (John 1:14) continues as the one who has joined Man and God together again. In our sin, we have separated ourselves from God. In fact, by our sinful nature, we run from God and do not fear Him, love Him or trust in Him. Jesus comes, incarnate, to serve, and by dying on the cross gathers all to himself, giving them life in His resurrection. Jesus does so by speaking a Word into their ear. He still does that. What was the pastor doing in the pulpit last Sunday morning? He was speaking the Word into your ear. So also, Jesus combines His Word to water in your Baptism and to bread and wine in the Sacrament of the Altar. He speaks his Word into your ear, forgiving your sins in Holy Absolution.
Jesus calls us to abide in His Word and there to experience the truth. The truth will set us free. From what will you be set free? Why did the Jews say they were offspring of Abraham? Weren’t they? Jesus points out their problem, a problem even for Abraham: SIN. We are all slaves of sin. We fall short of God’s glory, but that is why Jesus has come. He came in the flesh of Mary and suffered and died on the cross to free you from that slavery. That is why He has come to you and has sent His Holy Spirit into your heart. In your heart, the Holy Spirit has created faith in Jesus Christ, and believing, you know the truth. It is Christ and His work on the cross that has set you free. That is the truth. It isn’t changeable or fleeting. Your eternal life is certain in Christ. The Son has come to you, and He is your rock and your fortress. You have nothing to fear, for the Son has set you free–free from all your sins and for life eternal.
Why is this day called Reformation Day?
Who is Martin Luther?
What must we do to be saved?
Does God still come to you and dwell with you?
Hymn 656, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
Almighty and gracious Lord, pour out Your Holy Spirit on your faithful people. Keep us steadfast in Your grace and truth, protect and deliver us in times of temptation, defend us against all enemies, and grant to Your Church Your saving peace, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.