31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
33 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?”
34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word. 38 I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father.”
39 “Abraham is our father,” they answered.
“If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do what Abraham did. 40 As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. 41 You are doing the works of your own father.”
(You will know the truth and the truth will set you free)
Thoughts: "Hold to my teaching" has been traditionally translated "continue in my word." It is not enough to believe in the beginning. To be a real disciple we must continue to hold onto the teaching of Christ. Not just the meat of His teaching (like love and kindness), but also the specifics of His teaching.
If we lose his teaching, we become slaves to sin. There are many who are so enslaved of sin, they seek justification for it rather than give it up. We would rather be told that we shouldn't feel guilty than be told that our behavior is wrong and we need to change our behavior. Abraham, by contrast, would do anything God said- even if it didn't make sense. He would move to a new land; fight outnumbered against trained soldiers; and even be willing to sacrifice his only son. His desire was to do God's will. As His children of faith- we are called to not follow sin, but listen to Jesus teaching- hold to it, and follow God.
Prayer: Help me to hold, Lord, to your whole teaching.
John Calvin Abridged: Though the Jews at that time resembled barren soil, the Lord did not permit the seed of His Word to be entirely lost. Christ warns that it is not enough to begin well if we don't persevere. The knowledge of the Gospel restores freedom. Nothing is more valuable or blessed than the Gospel which delivers us from slavery.