John 8 records a "day of hostility in the life of Jesus." Jesus' day began as he taught in the temple area. When an adulteress caught in the act was presented to him, he refused to condemn her. Instead, he convicted and humiliated her captors.

His lessons provoked one hostile reaction after another. Each reaction intensified the hostility. "You are lying and have no one to verify your statements!" "Your statements make sense only if you plan to kill yourself." "Who are you?" (Which asked, in context, "Who do you think you are?")

In the "give and take" of the hostility, many listeners believed in him. To them, the believers, Jesus said, "You are genuine disciples if you take life from my word. By taking life from my word, you shall know the truth, and that truth will liberate you."

This statement offended the believers as well as his opponents. "We are Abraham's descendants, the people of God! We have never been slaves! How dare you suggest otherwise!"

From that point forward, Jesus was increasingly insistent, and they were increasingly hostile.

The belief that results in acceptance and the belief that results in existence are radically different. The belief of acceptance agrees (as though personal approval validates truth). The belief of existence finds life in the revelations of the teachings.

Genuine disciples voluntarily submit to the teacher to learn. In recognition of his superiority, they surrender their minds and hearts to his teachings. They refuse to permit "my knowledge" to limit the teacher's revelation. His revelations are not restricted by their perceptions.

Jesus said, "Genuine disciples continually draw life itself from my word. In doing so, they discover the truth. Truth discovered through my revelation liberates them."

Jesus' teachings do not exist to confirm "our knowledge." He reveals what we need to understand. His objective is more than revealing the truth about God, Christ, the Spirit, God's will, and Jesus' purposes. It includes revealing to us the truth about ourselves (examine John 8). Discovering truth is frightening, but only truth liberates.

Truth has the power to liberate for two reasons. It reveals myself to me. It reveals life to me. Both revelations occur when I take life from Jesus' word.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 8 November 1998

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