By Robert Halsey Pine
“So Jesus said, ‘When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own, but I speak these things as the Father instructed me. And the one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what is pleasing to him…If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.’” (John 8:21-32 NRSV).
The Pharisees challenged Jesus at every turn. He had something that they didn’t understand. He was always breaking their laws and they were jealous of the attention that He was getting from the people. The comments of Jesus about being lifted up are a little confusing. We think of lifting up a brother or sister to the Lord in prayer, but here some say Jesus is referring to being lifted up on the cross. In this sense He was lifted up as a sacrifice for us. Jesus is clear about His source. He says, “I do nothing on my own, but I speak these things as the Father instructed me.”
Jesus is teaching us how we should relate with the Father through Him and how we should live our lives. His example is that we should always do what is pleasing to the Lord. It is in doing this that we will always feel His presence and never feel alone. Jesus brought us God’s Word. It is up to us to continually seek His Word and an understanding of it. And now comes the hard part. If we stay in His word, we will be His disciples. Now the responsibility of it all hits us. We are frightened that we will have to live as disciples of Jesus. We think that we are not worthy. This puts us on the spot. Our little sins that we’ve swept under the carpet pop out and are in broad daylight.
Are we afraid to know the truth? Jesus points to His word as truth in His Father and promises that this truth will make us free. All of a sudden, we are not sure if we want to be set free. Being set free carries a responsibility and duty with it. We feel safe in our worldly prison where we don’t have to stand for anything, and we have no duty to our neighbors. Our only concern is “what’s in it for me?”. But sooner or later loneliness sets in and we see that we have missed the mark.
There is truly no other path for us than to continue in His Word and prayerfully accept His discipleship. He will see that His Father makes best use of our talents when we open ourselves up to Him. This is a lifetime commitment for us. We must work at it every day in order to keep and sustain it. Our reward is His truth that will make us free.
Robert Halsey Pine was born at Newark, Ohio in 1943. He is a graduate of Northeastern University and completed the program of Theological Education by Extension: Education for Ministry, School of Theology, the University of the South.