"Very truly I tell you, 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. I know you are Abraham's descendants. Yet you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word. I am telling you what I have seen in the Father's presence, and you do what you have heard from your father." (John 8:34-38)

Jesus is responding to the Jewish pharisees who said:

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?" (John 8:33)


They said this in response to Jesus' statement prior:
"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:32)
Jesus is trying to communicate to them that they are in the darkness of ignorance. He is trying to communicate that he is able to save them from this ignorance through his teachings, because he is God's representative:
"I am telling you what I have seen in the Father's presence"
Jesus accepts that they are Abraham's descendants, but he is communicating that his message comes straight from the Supreme Being.

The problem is, these Jewish pharisees do not think they are in ignorance. They believe that because their physical bodies are descendants of Jewish prophets they are somehow privileged, and have some special relationship with God. Jesus is trying to dispel this myth that these Jews are somehow privileged with a special relationship with God.

The problem with this notion is that we are not these physical bodies.

This myth continues to this day as so many peoples are currently struggling for ownership of land in many places in the world - including the Middle East - by virtue of each side thinking they have some sort of privilege through heritage. As a result, some say that Jerusalem or other sacred sites and lands around the world belong to them because of some right of ancestry.

What they do not see is that none of them own anything. Only the Supreme Being owns the lands of the earth, as well as all the temples and sacred sites.

The physical bodies of human beings only live for a few decades before they die. Each of us must leave this physical body behind at the time of death. Therefore, humans cannot own anything. What is taken away at death cannot be claimed as owned. Ownership is a permanent thing, and ownership means control. Only the Supreme Being has complete and permanent control over the earth. Therefore He is the only owner. So we must ask: Why are these peoples fighting over God's property?

In addition, each individual must re-develop their own relationship with the Supreme Being. It is not as if we can be born into a family and because being born in that family, we are automatically qualified with spiritual advancement. While it is true that a person born into a religious family is there because of the progression of their spiritual evolution, this does not mean the person has any privilege with regard to their relationship with God.

The Supreme Being treats all of us fairly and equally, and gives us the freedom to accept our relationship with Him or reject that relationship. Being born amongst others who pray and talk about God and scripture certainly is an advantage in ones spiritual progression. But God looks at the heart: How sincere are we? How much do we really want to know Him and love Him? These are the qualities that the Supreme Being looks at - not the form of our temporary physical body or what family that temporary body was born within.

Why does Jesus start off by saying that "everyone who sins is a slave to sin"?

Jesus is making a distinction between God's loving servants, who are part of His permanent family and devoted to Him, and those who are self-centered and self-interested. "Sin" relates to activities done in the service of oneself. A person who is self-centered is a slave to "sin" because these activities are geared towards our own happiness, which only brings misery. A person whose focus is upon pleasing the Supreme Being is part of God's family. This brings happiness, and freedom from selfishness.

The word "son" here is discussed allegorically. The Greek word translated to “son” is υἱός (huios). This can be interpreted as a relationship of offspring in the context of a physical family. However, as indicated in the lexicon, this is "restricted" to a context of physical family ties. But it can also be translated, according to the lexicon, as "one who depends on another or is his follower."

Jesus is utilizing both meanings of the word in his statement above, as he clarifies and compares his relationship with God to the Jewish pharisees' false identification with their bodies and their being physically related to Jewish prophets. The relationship with the Supreme Being Jesus accepts for himself relates to the latter - a follower and loving servant of God.

This translation of υἱός (huios) as being God's follower and loving servant is confirmed in other verses in the Bible. Jesus himself confirmed this when he said:
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
There is also a historical context of followers (loving servants) of God:
When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. (Genesis 6:1-3)
And Jesus' disciples accepted this definition of "sons of God":
“You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:26)
As mentioned in the struggle over Jerusalem and lands of the middle east above, the disease of false bodily identification is spread not only by virtue of a person being born in a certain family, but it also is spread by the misinterpretation of scripture. While the Supreme Being led his followers through His loving servant Moses, it was by virtue of following Moses that they were pleasing to God. It is a living testament.

Contrasting this, people who assume that because they were born in a certain family they are somehow God's "chosen" people is a misuse of that dedication and commitment that testifies to the relationships of loving service between God and His loving servants.

While certain groups seem to think that the Israelites were God's chosen people forever, they forget the parts of the Bible where God became upset at Israelites who had abandoned Him. It was not as if they were still His chosen people even though they had abandoned their dedication and worship of Him.

The fact is, the Israelites who followed Moses were God's chosen because they were following God's instructions, imparted through Moses. In other words, they chose to follow God, so they became God's "chosen."

You see, the Supreme Being wants each of us - every one of us - to return to Him. He does not want any one group or society to come back to Him any more than any other. It is each of us who make the choice. We are the ones who make the the choice of whether we want to return home to God or remain in this physical world - where the self-centered souls dwell.

God has given each of us the freedom to love Him or not. After all, how could we truly love without freedom? Therefore, each of us has the ability to change direction, and begin refocusing our lives upon the Supreme Being. Whether our bodies come from a Muslim family, a Jewish family, a Christian family, a Hindu family or a Buddhist family, we each have the freedom to change our self-centered focus to one of focusing upon getting to know, love and serve the Supreme Being. It is our choice, each of us, as individuals.

Now once we make a determination that we are going to direct our lives towards coming to know, love and serve the Supreme Being, we then become one of God's "chosen" people. Why? Because we have chosen to follow Him.

Jesus also talks about being "set free." How does Jesus set us free? By following his and Moses' central teaching:
“ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matt. 22:37-38 and Deut 6:5)


(For a more appropriate translation of Jesus' statements, see the Devotional Translation of the Gospel of John Chapter Eight - translated from the original Greek texts without ecclesiastical sectarian influence.)