One of the many things I love about Jesus as we see him in John’s Gospel is the way he hones in on phony pretense and exposes it to the test of reality. In every conversation he seems to find a way to draw out double talk and double back on inconsistencies. He refuses to ride the grooves of spin. No wonder every political season someone wants to nominate Jesus for president.
In John chapter eight, we find Jesus in one of such conversations with some Jews who John tells us had placed their belief him. Cool, right? Jesus is getting more followers. His fan page is getting lots of “likes.” Things are looking good.
But then he starts talking about “really my disciples,” as if to imply some think they are, but they aren’t, and “truth” and being “free.” And the casual followers are getting their pride pricked and their senses offended. “What do you mean free? How dare you insult me as a some slave?” Just like that, Jesus exposes that they don’t really understand who they follow or why they follow. He exposes the deceptions of the heart.
What they really say in response is, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” (Jn. 8.33). Whoa now. Never slaves to anyone? Hmmm…It sounds nice, but what do we do with the history pages that talk about Egypt? Assyria? Babylon? Rome?
So someone is eating their own phony baloney. And it’s easy to do. Way easy, because facing the truth about ourselves is hard. Revisionism is easier than repentance. Blaming is easier than responsibility-taking. Illusions are softer on our sensibilities. Spin is easier to sleep with at night than is facing up to our sin, owning up to our own great need, acknowledging our profound slavery to lies.
In the presence of Jesus we find enough light to face up to those hard truths about self. Why? Because the truths about him are more beautiful and compelling than the fear and the reality of our lies. To acknowledge we are sinners (which Jesus calls ‘slaves’) would be a most terrifying reality if it weren’t for the presence of a Savior. Our lies would undo us, if not surrendering pretense for the sake of embracing his truth.
“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (Jn. 8:36).
Phony, no matter how polished and publicly celebrated, will ever satisfy like true freedom. We are free today to follow Jesus as we really are. He doesn’t need our stories and pretenses. We need his truth and reality.
Don’t eat your own phony baloney. Look to Jesus. See him as he is. Listen to his teaching. Let him tell you who you are. Receive from him a truth that needs no spin. Find freedom.
Be free. Free indeed!
This month I’m participating with The Nester in her 31 Days challenge to write every day on a topic of choice. I’m writing this month on how Jesus make us free. Because without him, we’re just a hot mess of a captive.