Ascension Lutheran Church

Calgary, AB

Reformation Sunday

John 8:31-36

[31] Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; [32] and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” [33] They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, ‘You will be made free’?”
[34] Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. [35] The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. [36] So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”

Reformation Sunday is a feast peculiar to the Lutheran church which commemorates Martin Luther nailing his 95 Theses to the door of the castle church in Wittenberg, marking what has come to seen as the beginning of the Reformation. At its best, this feast is an opportunity to remember the importance of always seeking after the Truth—who is Christ Jesus—thus the gospel lesson for this day.

What we often overlook is the fact that the Truth has consequences. Being set free means being released from life as you once knew it and catapulted into a new way of being. While I have my doubts he was thinking of this particular gospel passage, the novelist David Foster Wallace summed this up well, “The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you.” (Infinite Jest). Being set free means change—and while it is certainly for the better, that doesn’t mean it is easy.

This fact can sometimes scare people into resisting Jesus—the fear of change can overwhelm them. But 1 John 4:18 reminds us that perfect love casts out fear. The perfect love of Jesus, the Truth, will bring about change, but change motivated and borne of God’s great and abiding love for us. So while it might seem daunting, this change shouldn’t be cause for fear, because God is working it in love.

Thus the freedom Jesus speaks of in this gospel isn’t about us doing whatever we want, but allowing God to do what He wants, for our benefit and blessing, making us into more of whom He called and created us to be.