(Photo: YWAM Harpenden Archive)

Even if it hurts

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32 NIV)

With this maxim, Jesus tries to explain to the Jews what they needed to live the freedom that God had for them. But this phrase is preceded by a condition, in which Christ says, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples” (John 8:31). What Jesus means at this point is that the first step in experiencing freedom is to discover the truth about who you are.

What does that mean? Throughout chapters 7 and 8 of the book of John, Jesus declares more than once about who He is, His identity and where He came from (John 8:12,23,58). And He says that this identity does not come from Himself, but comes from God, His Father. What He heard from the Father, He relied on. His identity was built on it. Now, Jesus says that we need to hear and abide in His Word to become disciples and know the truth.

It is like an inheritance. Jesus received his identity through the word of the Father and we receive ours through the word of Jesus. By knowing who the Father said He was, Jesus did not submit to any other definition that others wished to weave about him. He did not accept any other imposition of who He was supposed to be, as when the religious leaders said He was a Samaritan and had a demon (John 8:48).

And Jesus’ desire is that we reach that same balanced concept about ourselves, as the Bible says in Romans 12:3. He did this moments before, when the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery.

Let’s look at what Jesus did to both of them. Both the religious and the adulterous woman were wrong about themselves. The truth about them was covered up. The difference is that the truth of the woman was exposed first. She was caught in the act and what she practised in the occult was brought to light. But it was not very different with the Pharisees and scribes. They also carried hidden sins and were unmasked by Jesus.

The fact here is that truth has power to deliver. The woman’s sin is exposed and, from that moment on, she receives an opportunity to get rid of it. “You may go and sin no more” (John 8:11) was Jesus’ final answer. At that moment, Christ shows the truth about who she is. That woman no longer needs to identify herself as an adulteress or guilty. Now she is forgiven, absolved, loved, not condemned, free.

Abiding in the Word makes us free from our pains, fears, hauntings, anxieties, and everything else that makes us slaves to sin and prevents us from walking with Christ.

If we pay close attention to the text, both the religious leaders and Jesus told the truth about the woman. The religious said she was adulterous and she really was. Jesus also did not deny this fact. The difference is that the truth of Jesus came accompanied by love. The religious just wanted her to pay for her mistake. Jesus wanted her to be transformed. As my dear pastor uses to say, “the truth, without love, kills”.

Jesus confirms this difference in the following verses: “You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. And even if I judge, my judgment is true, for I am not alone, but I am with the Father who sent me” (John 8:15-16). This reminds me of what is written in Hebrews 12:6, “the Father disciplines whom He loves”. A father tells the truth, but he says it out of love. Those religious did not love the adulterous woman. They simply wanted to catch Jesus in some contradiction and thus try to unmask Him somehow. But actually, they were.

Returning to the woman, she probably considered herself incapable of being free of that practice, no matter how much she wished it. But when she heard the words of Jesus, everything changed. He did not condemn her, but showed that she could live without adultery. Christ said this by saying “sin no more”. She, however, did not yet know, until that moment, when she received a word in which she could remain.

This is what makes us true disciples of Jesus. Abiding in the Word makes us free from our pains, fears, hauntings, anxieties, and everything else that makes us slaves to sin and prevents us from walking with Christ.

But the scribes and Pharisees, despite having their doubtful character exposed, did the opposite. They showed no repentance. They just felt shame and left. “Then those who heard this, being convinced by their consciences, were withdrawing one by one” (John 8:9 KJA).

Anyways, Jesus showed the truth of who they were. To the religious, He showed that they were not as perfect as they thought – and having this thought about oneself can be destructive, like someone who does not admit to being sick and therefore does not seek help. To the woman, once an adulteress and burdened with guilt, He showed that she could be forgiven, loved and able to live free from that sin.

We also need to know who we really are. We need to hear from Jesus what He has to say about us. Even if it hurts, it frees us.

Written by Esaú Moraes.