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JOHN 8:31-47 (PART 1)

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

… Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (verses 31-32, 34-36)


We just moved into a new house last year. We love it. Almost immediately it felt like home, as if we’d been here for a very long time. We felt settled, even before we were fully unpacked!

That sense of settled-ness, taking up residence and being fully at home, is the image that Jesus uses three times over in these few verse. He uses a word that is often translated as “remain” or “abide.” It’s found twice in verse 35 as Jesus contrasts the family slave with the family offspring. Literally he says, “the slave does not remain in the house forever,” but then, in contrast, he says “the son remains forever.” Being at home in the Father’s house, fully settled, with every right to be there – that’s the image.

Jesus uses this same word back in verse 31 when he tells the Jews to “hold” to his teaching. Literally he’s saying, “remain in my words”, “abide in my words”, “take-up-residence-and-settle-right-in to my words.” The one who makes himself at home in Jesus’ teaching is a true disciple. The one who doesn’t, isn’t.

Just to intensify the image, it’s helpful to see some of the other places Jesus uses this same concept, like when he tells us he’s the vine and we’re the branches. “Abide in me,” he says. It’s the identical word. It implies such a close connection with Jesus that life flows from him to us. In fact, he’s so committed to this concept that he uses the word a total of ten times in John 15:4-10!

Interestingly, in the previous chapter he uses a word with the very same root. He tells us there that his Father’s house has many “dwelling places” (John 14:2) – that’s our word! It’s a place to settle down, remain, be at home. I love it! He intends for us to “abide” for all eternity.

In a sense, we start that process now, by settling into his words. He calls us to take up residence in his teaching. That’s where we’re to put up the “Home Sweet Home” sign. We’re to make it our permanent address.

As we do, the Son himself (whose words we’ve settled into) sets us free. He rescues us from slavery to sin. He gives us a new status as children of the Father.

So good to be at home!


Lord Jesus, thank you for the invitation to settle into full-time residence in your teaching. Thank you that your words are indeed words of eternal life. I acknowledge some of them are hard. Not all of them are comfortable. But you want me to be fully at home in you and in your purposes. I accept the invitation again. I choose to abide.


Reflect: What promise or teaching of Jesus do you most need to settle into at the moment? Consciously step through the door and take up residence.

What part of his teaching do you find most challenging at present? Pledge afresh your commitment to abide.

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