The centerpiece of the University of Texas campus is the architecturally beautiful UT Tower. Inscribed on the tower are the words, “Ye will know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” These words are quoted in so many contexts that many people do not realize they come from the Bible. But context is everything, and this often-quoted verse from John 8 illustrates that well.
- How do you think truth and freedom might be defined in the context of a university setting?
- How do you think truth and freedom would be defined in the context of the Bible?
READ THE WORD: JOHN 8:31-38 (ESV)
31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 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’?”
34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. 38 I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.”
English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
- What condition is necessary to know truth and freedom (vs. 31-32)?
- In what context did the Jews interpret the word “free” (vs. 33)?
- How did Jesus change the context of freedom? To what did Jesus say they were slaves (vs. 34)?
- Are there any areas in your life where you are enslaved? What is the only way to become truly free (vs. 36)?
RESPOND TO GOD
The Jews were deceiving themselves when they quickly said they had never been slaves. Israel had been subject to at least six nations in the past. We also often convince ourselves that we are free. But if we think carefully, we begin to realize that we can be slaves to things like prejudice, lust, control, perfectionism, even a false idea of truth. The freedom in these verses is an inner freedom from the guilt of sin and pressures of culture and to a relationship with the son of God. It is freedom from a long list of do’s and don’ts and to a life filled with purpose and faith. It is freedom to follow and abide with Christ, the only one who can lead us to real truth.
- Thank God for the freedom that comes from knowing and abiding in Jesus.