Jesus got into hot water with the Jews by suggesting that they might not be free –
“We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone!”
They forgot that they had been slaves of the Egyptians until God rescued them in the Exodus, and again they were slaves of the Babylonians during the Exile.
Even at the time of Jesus, they were, as a people, enslaved to the Romans and not in control of their own affairs – they were taxed to the hilt, they were subject to forced labour, and a Roman soldier could pick a person off the street and command him to carry his kit to the next staging post. An unpalatable truth, which might just explain why they reacted so angrily.
Today we are equally precious about considering ourselves to be free. We feel sorry for those who can’t choose where to live, what work to do or how to worship, and we are justifiably appalled by oppressive regimes like that in North Korea. But how free are we ourselves? E.g. how free are we to reject consumerism? Who dictates what we wear? How much are we in control of our time? On the news this week we saw the horrendous example of girls as young as nine seeking cosmetic surgery in order to conform to a particular ideal. If this is freedom, I’m not sure I want it.
Jesus said, “The truth will set you free.” The truth is that God loves me, he is for me, and nothing can ever change that. That is truly liberating.