“Even as He spoke, many put their faith in Him. To the Jews who had believed Him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teachings, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free”.” John 8:30-32
The 8th chapter of John’s Gospel is a very tense chapter. Jesus and the Pharisees are having the debate of all times. Even as I read it I see the politics of that day in full display. And Jesus is not backing down. He is being very candid about His identity and the Pharisees cannot believe their ears. They want Jesus to tell them again and again because they cannot believe someone would be bold enough to claim to be the Christ.
And then these two little verses almost escape the reader.
“Even as He spoke, many put their faith in Him”. Jesus was convincing! We read it and we only see the Pharisees with their hate speech. But people are watching this and believing. Jesus is gaining disciples.
Sometimes we weigh the results of what is happening around us and we think Jesus is losing. But people are still coming to believe in Jesus. We hear accounts of churches closing; people turning to atheism; and Bible burning. But Jesus is still gaining disciples. Could I please get a witness? Anyone?
“To the Jews who had believed…”. As disciples, we take that first initial step of faith. And then something happens; we are challenged to really believe. We are called to believe when things get tough. We are called to believe when we do not understand. We are called to believe when we are looking like fools. But not everyone can believe enough to take the next step. Some stop believing. Some get to a point where they are not ready to believe Jesus that much. The Jews Jesus was talking to here did not make that next leap of faith. They froze. And then they turned back.
How do you get from here to there? How do you move from that initial step of faith to being set free? I want truth, but I want truth that will set me free. I do not simply want head knowledge. I want truth that will change me and propel me forward. Maybe the Jews who were listening did not want that kind of truth. Maybe they did not want truth that would change them. Maybe they liked who they were and wanted to stay that way. Or maybe they just did not understand they were not really free.