One of my favorite movies or film series of all times is “The Band of Brothers”, and not Downton Abbey (which is what my wife might say since we cannot wait till January for the new season). If I am confined at home due to a cold. You most likely will find me watching this straight through for ten plus hours. The series follows the “easy company” from basic training all the way through World War II. Most of the men that fought with easy company were from various areas of the United States. They were drafted to be in the military or they volunteered to serve their country. “Easy Company” was not as the name sounds. From basic training and on they would be the first of many to experience war from a new perspective. They learned how to jump out of a perfectly good airplane into a hostile country, they overcame having bad commanders, they survived loosing comrades, they survived a harsh winter with very little supplies, they survived war! I guess I should say some of them survived the war.
Learning about this unit from World War II, can give you ideas on how “truths” can be skewed or how millions of people could be led to believe an ideology or a different way to view flat out lies, but they believed what they were being told as the truth. Jesus even mentions an example of this in today’s gospel reading: “I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your Father.”
In life truth can be skewed, twisted, distorted, manipulated, and so on... “The Truth” can be hard to find. Truth’s could be considered as lies. For example a story could be told many times over and over and past down generations and everyone thinks it’s the truth but to find out later, it was all an elaborate tail that turned out to be a lie. In the “Band of Brothers”, sergeant spears is shown giving cigarettes to some prisoners of war and then proceeds to kill them. (This was around the time of the D-Day invasion and there was a general who gave an order to not take prisoners, it would only slow them down.) This is the truth, but tales about this sergeant spears would spread and the story would get bigger and bigger, eventually making him into some kind of folk lore. The story would get twisted into lies. Do we not get caught into twisting truth’s into lies? ”Oh a little white lie is not going to hurt them, or him, or her”, said by many.
Whether it is a lie, white lie, or just plain deceiving someone, it is a sin! It is a plain sin! No if, and, or buts about it, a lie is a sin. Yes our sinful natures will say oh it’s not going to hurt someone. Oh, it is hurting someone, it is hurting yourself. Jesus says to the Jewish people in today’s lesson, , “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave[b] to sin.” In all revelation to you, I am a sinner, I am a hypocrite, I have lied and I am a slave to sin. But you know the old phrase it takes one to know one, I would say you are a slave to sin as well.
Sins have always been a battle. Today we celebrate our heritage of the Lutheran Reformation. Martin Luther was a sure sinner and if he was here today he would probably give a really big amen. Luther fought sins not only in his own life he fought the sins of the Church and mainly the corruption of the original church, the one holy apostolic church, the church of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The true Word and Teachings of Christ were being perverted for mans sinful flesh and desires. The truth which sets us free was being shackled by man.
Luther states this on verse 34 of our text today, “ If I am flung into prison and the pope binds me with ropes I am nonetheless arrogant and defiant and say to him: You pope, are my servant, and I am the lord of these chains or of this prison; for they shall not take this liberty from me, and they shall be no hindrance to my faith and Christianity. These bonds shall not harm me; rather they shall be useful to me and bring me closer to Christ; and the more you torture and plague me with prison, with laws, temptations, and fears, the better you are serving me.” Wow, these are powerful words from Luther. Luther turns the table, he is using free will and making sin his slave. Yes, this is easier said than done. The truth can be skewed into not knowing that sin has blinded our judgment and is leading us away from the real truth of the Gospel.
Jesus tells us what the truth is in the verses today, “35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever.36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. 38 I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.”
How do we break away from this sin?
Where is this freedom found?
Freedom from sin lies in Christ. We learn that the freedom in Christ lies in his Word. If you abide in my Word . . . you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
BY HIS WORD: Christ sets you free from the burden of sin you bear.
And that word is: You are forgiven. Christ sets you free from the slavery in which you are ensnared.
And that word is: You have been liberated. Christ sets you free from your bondage to lies and sets you safely and securely in the house of the LORD.
And that word is: You shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever. Christ frees us by His Word that says: You are forgiven. You are redeemed. You are God's child and my brother and my sister. You will live in the house of the LORD forever.
For Christ is the Word made flesh. He is the Eternal Word of God enfleshed in humanity and In his flesh, Christ the Word has borne the guilt of our sin. In his flesh, Christ the Word has endured the punishment all flesh deserves. In his flesh, Christ the Word suffered and died upon the cross to restore the holiness of his people of the flesh and set us free as the people of the Word. Now risen from the dead he speaks his Word to us and by that word he sets us free: free from the sins of our forefathers, free from our sinful deception of ourselves about what freedom really is, free from our abuse of the heavenly freedom he has given us. By His Word, the Word Made Flesh, the Son of God himself has set us free to be his holy people. And when the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.
As we remember our freedom that Christ solely gives to us through His Word and His death and resurrection, we also remember today our heritage of Luther and other Church fathers who fought against sin that corrupted the Word and Teachings of Christ. The name, “Band of Brothers”, comes from Shakespeare. In War the easy company had a 150% casualty rate. I could say that Christians today are having a high casualty rate. We are fighting fronts on all kinds of attacks against Christianity. Sad to say some of the attacks come from within the church.
Shakespeare’s quote was, “From this day to the ending of the world...We in it shall be remembered... We gallant few, we band of brothers. For he today that sheds his blood with me Shall be my brother.”
If I could put my own twist on these words from Shakespeare, For the blood has been shed for us. Christ’s blood has accomplished something we could never accomplish, it has taken the sting of sin away. Christ’s resurrection to the right hand of God sealed our fate, it overpowered death and made life anew possible. For we shall be remembered, for we shall be the gallant few. We band of brothers of Christ shall stick together through His Word and His Sacraments, through this grace we are set free! For Christ has remembered us.
Christ has Risen! He has Risen indeed! Hallelujah!