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Believing and the Word

by | Nov 8, 2023 | Believe, Faith, Word of God

“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 8:31-36 ESV)

It’s a strange thing that’s happening here in this story. Jesus is talking to the Pharisees in the temple, and as He is talking, the Bible tells us, “many believed in Him” (John 8:30 ESV).

That’s a good thing, right? And yet, right away those new believers get into an argument with Jesus. He says to them, If you abide in My Word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” But they’re offended by His Word. “What do you mean, we need to be set free?” they complain. They get even more offended as the argument goes on, and finally pick up stones to kill Him. And why? “Because My Word finds no place in you,” is what Jesus says (John 8:37b ESV).

Whatever the Bible means when it first says they believed in Him, clearly it’s not the kind of faith they ought to have—the kind that trusts Jesus’ Word, the kind that abides in Jesus’ message and treasures His Gospel. We can’t separate Jesus from His Word. It is not possible to love and obey Jesus faithfully and at the same time to reject His Word. As Peter puts it, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the Words of eternal life” (John 6:68b ESV).

Instead of arguing and rejecting, Jesus calls us to abide in His Word—to make our home in it, to love it and treasure it. That is what the Greek word we translate as “keep” means—to guard something carefully, to protect it and watch over it. If we love Jesus, we will love His Word. It will become our lasting home—like light to our eyes, like honey to our lips.

After all, what does Jesus’ Word tell us? It tells us that He has come to be our Savior and to set us free from sin. Jesus’ Word tells us, “I am the good Shepherd. I know My own and My own know Me, just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep” (John 10:14-15 ESV). His Word tells us, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live. … Do you believe this?” (John 11:25b, 26b ESV)

Yes. This is the Word we believe and abide in. We belong to Jesus forever.

Prayer: Lord, show me how to abide in Your Word. Amen.

This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
Originally published in The Lutheran Hour on October 27, 2022
Used by permission from International Lutheran Laymen’s League, all rights reserved

Reflection Questions:
1. What does it mean to abide in a home?
2. How is that different from a temporary stay?
3. How do you abide in Jesus’ Word, and He in you?