in John's Gospel -- Part 13
The Illusion of
By: A.J. Higgins, M.D.
before the signers penned their names to the U. S.
Declaration of Independence that called for "life,
liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," the
heart of man has longed for freedom, claiming it as his
birthright. Centuries later the now famous
inaugural speech of President Roosevelt, spoken in the
dark valley between a world wide depression and an
approaching world wide war, reaffirmed this belief as he
guaranteed the "Four Freedoms" to the nations.
our own generation who can recall the moving oratory of
Dr. King, "Let freedom ring from every hill and
molehill in Mississippi.... free at last, free at
last...," without feeling the moral justice and
power of his words?
has ever been the goal and the glory of men and nations.
Perhaps only exceeding the tragedy of its loss, is
the tragedy of its assumed possession. In John 8,
the Lord Jesus spoke to men about the path to freedom.
His emphasis was undoubtedly upon spiritual
freedom. They nevertheless in their pride
responded: "We were never in bondage to any
man." Never was freedom more strangely
defined. The coin of every day usage bore the
image of Caesar. Above the Temple gate was the
massive Roman eagle, symbolic of Roman dominion. Upon
the seat of authority in Jerusalem was Pontius Pilate, a
Roman governor. Foreign soldiers roamed the
streets, according to Josephus. Freedom wore a
perhaps some might say that the freedom they spoke of
was a freedom independent of political domination: the
freedom of thought, action, and worship. Certainly the
mind can be free even in a prison. But the Lord
Jesus made clear that the professed liberty was not even
genuine in that sphere. Their hands were stained
with sin that left telltale fingerprints on all their
activities (vs. 43-47). Their hearts were
But the Lord Jesus
made clear...the professed liberty was not...genuine.
devoid of love to His
person (vs. 42). Morally and spiritually their
distance from God and true freedom was measurable in
there no true freedom then? Is not man a free will
moral being? The testimony of the Bible is that he
is. His freedom, however, lies in the sphere of
choice. He must choose to be in one kingdom or the
other...to own allegiance to God or Satan...to live for
this world or the next. His ultimate freedom
depends upon that decision. Those who choose to
live their lives according to their own wills are really
reenacting the choice of Satan, "I will be as
God." There is no bondage so cruel and bitter
as bondage to sin. The apostle Paul in his Roman epistle
makes clear that sin is both monarch and master
There is no bondage
so cruel and bitter as the bondage of sin.
(Rom. 6) for those who
choose its dominion. It is self imposed slavery;
the surrender of true liberty. Yet those who glory
the loudest in their supposed freedom often do so to the
accompaniment of the sound of their chains.
live in a generation that has imbibed the hedonistic
philosophy that allows all that is pleasurable and
attainable. Moral absolutes have no place in
today’s "advanced" society. We have
moved beyond the barbaric thinking of our Puritanical
forefathers. Our enlightened generation has
finally gotten it all together: sin really doesn’t
exist. Please pass the word back down the corridor
of time: they are all wrong.
Somehow amidst all the rhetoric and claims, there is the
sound of hollowness, of longing. A cry for
reality, a plea for meaning still rises from the
collective voice of the human family. All their freedom
seems to be but bondage. This was exactly what the
Lord Jesus was revealing to those of His day. He
Himself was excluded from the mere illusion of freedom.
In this very chapter He declared how He always
pleased God (vs. 29), and challenged His audience to
point to one sin in His life (vs. 46). Outwardly
before men, and inwardly before the eye of His Father
there was no sin and no bondage. His was true freedom.
Yet in that freedom He chose to leave heaven and
go to Calvary to pay the price of sin and provide men
with a way back to God. He told His audience:
"If the Son therefore shall make your free, you
shall be free indeed." The freedom He offers
mankind is one purchased by His blood upon Calvary.
It is a freedom from the bondage and bitterness of
sin. It is a freedom that brings man into an
eternal, indissoluble relationship with God (vs. 51).
It fulfills for man his deepest longing:
"life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."