5th Week of Lent
Daniel 3:14-20, 91-92, 95; (Psalm) Daniel 3:52-56;John 8:31-42
The truth will set you free. (John 8:32)
Shin Dong-hyuk was a prisoner in a North Korean prison camp for twenty-three years before he escaped. But for most of that time, he thought that his life was normal. You see, he was born there. “I just thought that those people who carry guns were born to carry guns,” he said. It took him so long to entertain the thought of escaping because he thought that everyone lived in a camp like his. During his incarceration, if you had asked him the meaning of the word “freedom,” he wouldn’t have known how to answer!
You can hear similarities to Shin’s story in what Jewish leaders say to Jesus in today’s Gospel: “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone” (John 8:33). Jesus is trying to tell them that they are slaves—slaves to sin. But they can’t understand what he means. They are observing the Law to the best of their ability; what could possibly be wrong with that? Nothing at all. But Jesus wanted to give them something more.
Jesus wanted his listeners to remain free to obey the Law, but he also wanted them to know the freedom of the Holy Spirit: the freedom to hear the Spirit speak words of wisdom, love, and guidance; the freedom from self-centered concerns and anxieties; the freedom to do the very things that Jesus was doing—a freedom based on the power of God living and active in their hearts.
Freedom in Christ is something we never stop needing, even if we’ve been walking with the Lord for a long time. As Easter draws near, consider what freedom looks like for you. You may find that, like Shin Dong-hyuk, you have been imprisoned for quite a while without even knowing it. Do you need the freedom to become the person you want to be—more patient, more considerate, more open to the Holy Spirit? The freedom to go out and build the kingdom of God with confidence and grace? Freedom from a longstanding resentment or past hurt? Jesus wants to set you free. So let his truth settle deep into your heart so that you can step into the freedom he has prepared for you this Lent.
“Lord, send me your light and your grace—the light to see where I need to change and the grace to make those changes! Jesus, I want to be set free!”~WAU