Jesus Did Not Say That The Truth Will Set You Free


“O yes He did!” you might vehemently protest, and I will just as vehemently protest that He did not, at least that is not what He meant.

Let’s read what He said, in context, of course.

To the Jews who believed Him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’ (John 8:31-32)

How many times have you heard someone quote Jesus’ words out of context: ‘The truth will set you free’?

The whole truth of what He said hangs on the issue of being His disciple. Unfortunately, even being a disciple of Jesus is misunderstood today. In Jesus’ day, a disciple was a person whom a rabbi (teacher and model) called to follow him. The rabbi had implicit confidence that, after spending time with him day and night, not only learning what he believed and taught, but also learning to imitate him in every possible way, those who followed him would become a replica of him. They, in turn would teach his yoke to others.

A disciple had to learn his rabbi’s yoke – his understanding of Yahweh’s original intention in the Torah – His instructions for living that would guide him on his journey towards his destination which was Zion, the place where He had established His name. Only a rabbi with sh’mikah, the authority recongnised by two witnesses, was permitted to have his own yoke and to teach his yoke to his disciples.

Jesus had sh’mikah, authority from the Father to which both the Father and John the Baptist bore witness at His baptism, to override every other yoke and “bind” His yoke on His followers. Unlike the yoke of rabbis like Hillel and Shammai, who placed heavy burdens on people which the Pharisees and religious leaders slavishly followed, Jesus’ yoke was easy and His burden light.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matt. 11: 28-30)

It was in this context of discipleship, not to the casual observer who had no commitment to follow Jesus as his model and mentor, that Jesus spoke these words. True freedom can only be experienced by those who understand Jesus’ yoke and put it into practice in their everyday lives. The core of His yoke lies in His disposition as the Son of God and His representative on earth. He said, ‘I am gentle and humble in heart.’ Slavishly trying to follow a set of rules can never bring the rest He promised.

What is this rest He promised? It is the rest of soul that has received forgiveness of sin through Jesus and has been reconciled to the Father by faith in Christ. He is no longer obligated to keeping a set of rules to gain favour with God. He has been reinstated into His family as His son or daughter; he has received God’s gift of righteousness through Jesus; he has been redeemed from the slave market of sin and transferred from the dominion of darkness to the kingdom of God. He has a new nature and a new Master.

All this is God’s doing; it cannot be taken from him. He can rest in what God has done for him, and he is free to walk in God’s truth through the power of the Holy Spirit. This is the freedom Jesus offers to those who throw in their lot with Him in loyalty, trust and obedience.

This is a far cry from what some people believe He said, if they even know the source of the statement! There can never be true freedom outside of Jesus and outside of being His disciple by holding to His teaching. It is not the truth that sets us free but the experiential knowledge of the truth when we believe and practise the teachings of Jesus in the disposition of the Master.

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Have you read my new book, Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing)? You’ll love it!

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Watch this space. My second book, Learning to be a Disciple – The Way of the Master (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing), companion volume to Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart, will soon be on the bookshelves.

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Categories: Apologetics Tags: , , ,

Luella Campbell

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