Reformation Observed 2018 (Jn 8:31–36)

Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

“The slave does not remain in the house forever. The Son remains forever. Therefore, if the Son sets you free, you’re really free.” (35–36)


Jesus sets you free. It’s why He came. It’s why He died for you, rose for you, too. It’s why He baptized you. It’s why He delivered the Absolution today. It’s why He gives His body and blood to eat and to drink. Jesus wants you to be free, and so He sets you free. And WHEN JESUS SETS YOU FREE, HE REALLY SETS YOU FREE.

((I. He sets you free from sin and death.))

JESUS REALLY SETS YOU FREE—free from sin, and, because of that, also free from death. You need to be set free from sin because “anyone who commits sin is a slave of sin.” When it comes to sin, we can’t possibly free ourselves. Of ourselves, we’re slaves of sin. Sadly, most of the time you sin and don’t even realize it. Sometimes you do. You feel bad sometimes, when you should all the time. And sometimes—it’s terrible!—you don’t even care, when you should—care enough to actually stop. All this confesses that in and of yourself you’re a slave of sin.

And “the slave does not remain in the house forever.” This means that when you’ve got sins, you’re going to die, and when it comes to death, you can’t possibly keep yourself alive. But what’s worse than dying because of sin is that unfreed from sins you don’t remain “in the house forever.” Oh, there is an eternal existence for those unfreed from sin, but it’s outside the house, apart from the Father, apart from the Son. Sin separates not just now, but forever, too.

So it’s good that Jesus is in the setting-free business. He does remain forever, but He sets free by not remaining forever: He died—“was crucified, died, and was buried.” All for you, for your sins. Body given, blood shed into death. But He does remain forever. He is “risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity.” All this for you, too.

He lives to give out His cross-won freedom from sin. He reigns to deliver His empty-tomb-guaranteed freedom from death. He freely gifts it to you: freedom from the Font, freedom from the Absolution, freedom from the lectern and pulpit, freedom from His body and blood delivered from His altar. True freedom, true liberty given again and again so that you would be free from sin and death, because WHEN JESUS SETS YOU FREE, HE REALLY SETS YOU FREE.

((II. He sets you free to be really free.))

But “daily and much” we continue to live in slavery by continuing on in our sins, returning to them, by continuing to do them. We reject Jesus’ freedom for worldly freedom. Worldly freedom is the freedom, the liberty to live like we want, how we want. But that means we live for me, myself, and I—my passions, my desires. “Whatever I want I get” sort of living. Selfish. Me-first. That’s what sin is. That’s what slavery is.

That’s great to the world. It sounds pretty awesome to our flesh. But it’s slavery, selfishness, separation—not just from loving others, but from the Son who really sets you free. That’s the life of sin.

The problem is we don’t really want to be free. Truth is we only sort of rejoice in the freedom from sin and death that Jesus wins and delivers to us because we still don’t live free—free for others. Is it freedom to hang on to another’s sins, wrongs, and debts? Is it freedom to put up walls in your relationships? Is it freedom to hold a grudge? Is it freedom to penny-pinch with God’s things? Is it freedom to desire people that aren’t your spouse? Is any of that freedom? No! That’s all slavery, being a slave of sin.

You need to be saved, freed from all of that. And you are. Jesus alone does it. Jesus died and rose, baptized and absolves, bodies and bloods you to save you, to free you. That’s Christianity, that’s the Scriptures, that’s what the Reformation restored, that you are saved and set free by Jesus only through His Gifts and Word.

And now you’re so free in Jesus that you forgive and love others. So free that you’re kind and compassionate to everyone, even people you don’t like. So free to actually like people you don’t like! So free you’re generous—with your offerings, even. So free to “be faithful to your marriage vow.”

That’s crazy freedom. That sort of freedom is a gift delivered in the Gifts of Jesus—Water, Word, Body and Blood. So, are you really that free? Yes, you are, in Jesus alone because WHEN JESUS SETS YOU FREE, HE REALLY SETS YOU FREE.


Jesus sets you free. It’s why He died for you, rose for you, too. It’s why He baptized you. It’s why He delivered the Absolution today. Jesus wants you to be crazy free. Free from sin to be holy forever. Free from death to live with Him forever. Really free for the benefit of others. Jesus wants you to have the sort of freedom that gives you “faith toward God and fervent love toward one another.” That’s what His body and blood are all about. And so you really are that free because WHEN JESUS SETS YOU FREE, HE REALLY SETS YOU FREE.


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