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I. So you are in Jesus

II. So…you remain in Jesus

John 8:31-36 31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” 34 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

In the name of Jesus Christ, who has set us free, dear Christian friends,

Some people get set free only to get captured all over again. For example, some forms of dodgeball are played with the rules that if you are hit with a ball or someone catches the ball you throw, you have to sit in “jail” until released. When a teammate catches the other team’s ball, he may choose to have the opponent sit out or set a teammate free. Unfortunately, what so often happens is that teammate gets hit immediately and goes right back to dodgeball jail again…no longer free!

British soldier Horace Greasley escaped from the Nazi camp where he was held during World War II by removing the wooden bars from his cell window and crawling under the fence surrounding the camp. He was free! But he kept returning to camp and captivity…200 times! Knowing he could escape and get what he wanted any time, he was content to give up his complete freedom.

If you have ever been set free from a dangerous, difficult, maybe even deadly situation, would you ever want to go back? On this Welcome Home/Reformation Sunday, we focus on being FREE! I. So you are in Jesus II. So…you remain in Jesus.

On this Reformation Sunday, I might be considered something other than a Lutheran preacher if I do not mention Martin Luther. He was a man who knew very well what it meant to be imprisoned and to be set free, not his body from a jail cell, but his soul from the despair of hell. All the years of his upbringing in a strict Roman Catholic home, he was taught that God was only a stern judge who punished those who disobeyed. Luther was taught at home and at church that he could and should try to set himself free by accomplishing a certain amount of good deeds in order to receive God’s favor. A night of sleeping on a cement floor, a time of beating himself with a whip, a period of going without a staple of life may have given Luther the idea he was pleasing God and a feeling of freedom for a short while, but then his next sin imprisoned him once again. It was a vicious, depressing cycle that led Luther to despair.

It was only when the Holy Spirit brought the Word to Luther that then he knew the truth and the truth set him free— the truth that Luther could not save himself, the truth that only Jesus can atone for sin, the truth that freedom is free, but came at a price, the price of Jesus’ holy, precious blood and his innocent suffering and death. Once Luther was free, he did not want to go back to the captivity of his work-righteousness and worked hard to hold on to and hold out the truth so others could be set free as well.

Now look at the situation presented in these words before us. Jesus is talking to the Jews who had believed him. As believers in Jesus as Savior from their sins, they no longer depended on the teaching of work-righteousness which they had learned from little on in their Jewish homes and synagogues. They were free— free from unbelief and its punishment of eternal death in hell!