Reformation 2021 (Jn 8, 31–36)

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Jesus said, “The Son remains [in the house forever,] so when the Son sets you free, you’re really free.”

᛭ INI ᛭

The Jews were confused by what Jesus said. “We are children of Abraham, and have never been enslaved to anyone. How can you say, ‘You will become free’?” Now, they’re confused for most likely one of two reasons. We can find support for both elsewhere in Scripture. Scripture interprets Scripture.

The first reason they’re confused is because they’re ignoring their own history—slavery in Egypt, and a whole bunch of other examples, too. That would put them into the same company as their Israelite ancestors. The Israelites always forgot the Lord saving them. The second reason is they recognize that they are free because of their lineage. They’re sons of Sarah, the free woman, and not sons of Hagar, the slave. (Paul uses this logic in Galatians 3.) So, based on what we know from the rest of the Bible, either one works.

Now, maybe we’re a bit confused by what Jesus has to say, too. In the history of the world, we live with an exceptional amount of freedom. The same goes when we compare ourselves with lots of countries around the world today. What do you know of being a slave? Literally being a slave to another human being and then literally being set free is completely outside of our experience.

So, what’s Jesus talking about? Well, we’re going to dive into what Jesus says. That’s our joy as Lutheran Christians. That’s what the Reformation was all about: pointing us back to Jesus as our only Savior from sin, receiving all of His Word (Old Testament, New Testament) as a gift. We are saved by God’s grace, His favor, in Christ Jesus, who died and rose for us, and this free salvation is received through faith in Jesus alone, and we know all this from Scripture alone.

Or to summarize all that using Jesus’ Words from John 8:


((I. Jesus sets us free from sin.))

So, if Jesus sets us free, well, that leads to the question of “What does Jesus free you from?” Jesus answers that for us: He sets us free from sin. Full stop. That’s why Jesus was born! It’s why the Son of God got the name Jesus: “For He will save His people from their sins.”

Your sin is why Jesus died. He paid the penalty for your sin. He “purchased and won you from all sins…with His holy precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death.” He suffered the consequence of your sin. “He suffered once for sins, the Just for the unjust,” as Peter says. “The punishment of our peace was upon Him.”

He even paid for the root cause of your sins: that you’re a sinner. “He became sin for us.” Your sin. My sin. The sins of the whole world. He became slave, “form of a servant,” to save us who are slaves to our sins.

We are slaves to our sins. That’s what it means to be sinners. We demure that. “Oh, no. It’s not really that bad. I’m not really all that bad.” But left to ourselves it is that bad! “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” “The wages of sin is death.”

But Jesus sets us free from all that. He forgives our sins, and they’re really forgiven. He died for them, so, they’re died for. He rose for them. They’re risen for. “He was delivered for our transgressions and raised for our justification.”

Forgiveness of sins means life and liberty—freedom. True freedom. Forgiveness delivered in baptism means new life. Forgiveness in Absolution means the chains of sin, the accusation of the Law are gone. The forgiveness in the Supper means communion—unity—with Jesus and with one another. We are bound together and together bound to Jesus in the forgiveness of sins.

When Jesus really sets you free, this isn’t freedom to sin. Can’t be that! Sin isn’t freedom. Sin is slavery. When you sin, that’s not living. Sin is death. “The wages of sin is death,” of course. But sin also results in “eternal punishment.”


You’re free from sin. Jesus set you free! “How can we who died to sin still live in it?” Impossible! You are new in Christ. He set you free. Really free. How free? Forgiven free. Died-for free. Risen-for free. Baptismally free. Absolved free. “My Body and blood for you” free. Eternally free. Really free. In Jesus alone free. And that gets us to the other part of our sermon:


((II. We don’t help in anyway; it’s all free gift!))

Only Jesus. Him alone. He alone sets you free. Only the Son can set you free. There’s nothing else in this universe that can set you free from you sins, get you the forgiveness of sins, besides Jesus and “His holy, precious blood” and “His innocent suffering and death.”

It’s not being descended from Abraham. It doesn’t matter if you were descended from Isaac or Ishmael. That’s not what gets you freedom. You’re sill a sinner. Conceived that way. Born that way. Live that way. Die that way. Damned in hell that way, too. That’s how it is for you on your own. Just like it was for Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

You’re works won’t set you free. That’s just another form of slavery. The Law of God isn’t freedom from sin. You’ll still die. “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the Law,” Paul says. God’s Law works sin and death in sinners. God’s Law won’t free you from your sins. “For if a Law had been that could give life, then Christ died for nothing.”

You’re good works won’t set you free either. You’re good works don’t add anything to your freedom in Christ. They don’t add anything to your forgiveness. They don’t make you more free. They don’t make you more saved. They add nothing to salvation.

And you can’t run away from your sins either. You can’t flee being a sinner. Then you’re just a fugitive—sin chasing at your heels. Then you’re just looking for anything you can do to finally be free. But you’re not. Sin, its guilt, its temptation, and its condemnation all hounding you to your grave. How you’ve failed the people in your life, not to mention the people that you love. (You fail God in the process.) And the Law will just hand you back to your slave-master, your sins. “The Law makes sin utterly sinful.” You will stand condemned forever.

But Jesus has good news for you today: “When the Son sets you free, you’re really free.” That’s what He does: sets you free. Forgives you. Yes, only Jesus does it all. He alone is the One who can and does set free. He’s the eternal and everlasting Son of the Father, “full of grace and truth.”

When Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, died for you, all sins died with Him. He shed His blood for the whole lot. No sin remains outside His death. He paid for all sins, of all people who have ever lived and will ever live, of every time and place. Their sins only remain theirs through unbelief.

He sets you free here and now through His Word. No wonder He tells us to just sit put. “Remain in My Word.” That Word delivers the forgiveness of sins. Water with the Word. Pastor with the Word. Bread and wine with the Word.

Stop trying to fix your sin problem. You can’t. Jesus can. Jesus does. Calvary much. Empty tomb much. Baptismal Font much. Office of the Keys much. Supper of His body and blood much. No matter the Gift, whether it’s Baptism, the Bible, Holy Absolution, Gospel-filled Sermons, or the Supper of His body and blood, Jesus is delivering the forgiveness of all your sins. All your sins are forgiven—each time, every time. Received by faith alone. Only Jesus does that.



That’s what Jesus says, and when He sets you free, you’re really free. Free from your sins. Forgiven. Really forgiven. It’s not based on anything you. Not your birth. Not your lineage. Not your church history. And certainly not anything you do.

Can’t be what you do. Not only did Jesus do everything, but He tells you stay put. Sit down. Stop. “Remain.” Remain in His Word because that’s what frees you.

Jesus’ disciples, in relation to Jesus, they’re static, don’t do anything—on the receiving end of His Word and Gifts. Sin’s slaves, on the other hand, well, in relation to Jesus, they’re active—working, always working—against, contrary to Jesus and His Word.

But that’s not you. You’re free. You’re forgiven. That’s what Jesus did for you at the cross. That’s what He does now for you in His Word.


And when He sets you free, you’re really free.

᛭ INI ᛭

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