The Jewish people were direct descendants of Abraham. However, as with so many biblical truths, there was much more to the Abrahamic covenant than what a casual glimpse would reveal. In truth, these Jews were not actually a part of the spiritual children of Abraham.
The Holy Spirit revealed through the Apostle Paul in Galatians 3:16 and 29 that God’s covenant was to Abraham and his singular ‘seed’ or descendant, which was Christ. No one ever became an heir of God’s promises through his natural birth. Before Jesus gave Himself as an offering for our sin, the Old Testament saints were justified by faith in God’s promises concerning the Messiah who was yet to come. After Jesus’ death and resurrection, New Testament saints are justified by faith in what Jesus has already accomplished. No one has ever been saved because of who his parents are.
Those who have been born again through faith in Jesus have been circumcised in their heart (Col. 2:11-12) and are the true Jews. They aren’t Jews in nationality or religion, but they are the true people of God. Gentiles who are united with Christ in the new birth are now God’s people. Anyone who is saved through faith in Jesus is now Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise (Gal. 3:16, 22, 26-29). This leaves no doubt that the Church is now God’s chosen people on earth. This does not mean that God has forsaken the Jews. There are still prophesies which apply to the physical nation of Israel which will be fulfilled. However, the New Testament Church, composed of Jews and Gentiles, is now God’s kingdom on earth. We are all His.
The devil has been deceiving the world about sin since the Garden of Eden when he told Eve that through sin she could be like God. Time has proven, not only to Eve, but to each one of us, that this is not true. Sin brings death and not life. Jesus is making it clear that sin enslaves. We become slaves not only to the sin itself, but also to the author of sin, the devil. We are either servants of God through obedience or servants of the devil through sin.
Jesus is likening the bondage that sin produces to slavery, while comparing the freedom that comes through serving God to being a beloved son. No one would doubt that being a son is better than being a slave. Likewise, obeying God is better than yielding to sin. True freedom is found only in serving God. There is a false freedom that Satan has been promoting since the Garden of Eden. He has deceived all of us at one time or another into thinking that God is a tyrant who really doesn’t want us to enjoy life and consequently has told us not to do certain things. Because we believe this lie, we disobey God (or sin) in the name of freedom.
However, the Word of God and personal experience conclusively prove that the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23). Jesus is stripping sin of any glamour with which the devil may disguise it. Sin brings bondage. The only true freedom is found in Jesus. Jesus not only dealt with the original sin that contaminated the human race, but He also dealt with each individual act of sin. Even if an individual could stop all sinning, he could not change his sin nature with which he was born. That’s the reason we must be born again.
This is the second of three times that Jesus spoke of Himself being ‘lifted up’ (1st – Jn. 3:14; 3rd – Jn. 12:32-33). As the scripture explains in John 12:33, this was a reference to crucifixion as the means of His death. The lifting up is speaking of being lifted up from the earth and suspended on a cross in crucifixion. The Jews understood that Jesus was speaking of death.
The crucifixion didn’t just happen. It was planned by God. Does this mean that God bears all responsibility and those who were actually instrumental in the rejection and crucifixion of Jesus are not guilty? Not at all. Jesus came to the earth to die in our place and thereby purchase redemption for us. That was His plan but He didn’t force anyone to fulfill it. His ministry and message placed Him in direct opposition with the devil and his followers. Their hatred for Jesus caused them of their own free will to crucify Jesus.
God, in all His wisdom, simply knew what man would do and He determined to use their rejection of His Son to accomplish His will. He never controls our will to accomplish His.
If a person truly understands the message of the cross, then he understands grace. Jesus didn’t just make a token sacrifice for us. He paid it all. There’s no sacrifice that we can make that will add to or replace the sacrifice of Christ. He did it all, and we can thank Him forever!