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The Servant and the Son

The Servant and the Son

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JOHN viii, 35. By Alexander Maclaren

And the servant abideth not In the home for ever but the Son Abideth ever.
JOHN viii, 35. By Alexander Maclaren

And the servant abideth not In the home for ever but the Son Abideth ever.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on May 12, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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THE SERVAT AD THE SOAlexander Maclaren D.D.JOH viii, 35.And the servant abideth not In the home for ever but the SonAbideth ever.I MUST first ask your attention to a remark or two onwhat I conceive to be the force and connection of this passage. There is nothing in the words themselvesrequiring explanation or illustration. They are simpleand plain enough; but their bearing on what precedesand follows, and the application which they were intendedto have, present very considerable difliculty."The servant abideth not in the house for ever; butthe Son abideth ever." This at least is clear, that ourLord is speaking of servant and son generically, or inother words, is drawing a contrast between the tworelations, wherever they are found, in the matter of permanence. A son is a natural, inalienable part of thefamily, whatever the family may be ; a slave is not Hemay be acquired, he may be sold, or given away toanother master, or set free. In Jewish servitude withwhich Christ s hearers were chiefly familiar there was3 C34 THE SERVAT *D THE SO. [SERM.
special provision against the slave s continuing "in thehouse for ever." At the Jubilee, unless he voluntarilyelected to give himself up in perpetuity to his master (sopassing from a state of involuntary slavery to one of willing consecration, which ceased thereby to be bondage)in token whereof he had his ear fastened to the doorpost with an awl through it he was free to depart wherehe liked. But a son is bound to his father s householdby a tie which no distance breaks, and no time wears away.Then comes the question, what application does Christmean to be made of this general truth about the characteristic difference between service and sonship? Thecommon answer seems to me to be very unsatisfactory.It is, in brief, this that the servants who abide not inthe house for ever are the Jews who, because theyregarded themselves as bound to God only by the harshbond of constrained obedience, and were slaves, not sonsat heart, would certainly forfeit their special nationalprivileges, and be cast out of the house the land oIsrael or the old covenant. According to that interpretation, the general statement would in effect be madespecial by inserting " of God " in the clause, and wouldmean substantially this he who is only an unwillingservant a slave of God s, has no permanent place inthe household of GodBut you should observe that, in the previous verse, themaster of the servant is distinctly specified "he thatcommitteth sin is the slave of sin? And it is a mostviolent and sudden twist of the connection to make itturn away all at once from speaking of slaves of sin to
III.] THE SERVAT AD THE SO. 35speak of slaves of God. otice, too, that both clausesof our text, the former as well as the latter, are laid asthe double grounds on which the conclusion reposes " If the Son, therefore, shall make you free, ye shall be freeindeed." Keeping these two things in view, it seems impossible to accept the ordinary explanation of the words,which wrenches them forcibly apart from the precedingverse, and disconnects them from the conclusion whichour Lord founds on them in the subsequent verse, whilstit brings in a wholly irrelevant thought about the Jewsbeing turned out of Canaan, because they were slaves andnot sons of God.Supposing, then, that whilst the words speak about servants and sons generically, laying down a generalprinciple that applies to the whole of the two classes,the immediate application is meant to be to the slaves of sin, of whom He has just been speaking, would thewords so referred yield an appropriate and adequatesense? What would be the force of the thought Sin sslave does not abide for ever in Sin s house ? Would itnot be the declaration of the great truth that, howsoeverhard and long the bondage and servitude of sin hadbeen, yet the very relation itself is of such a characterthat it needs not to be perpetual, but bears upon its frontthe hope that one day the captive may come out of theprison-house and shake himself loose from his connectionwith this tyrant s household, of which he has become apart ? However long and weary the years of bondage,the slave is not in his true home, nor incorporated hopelessly into his taskmaster s family. There is no natural

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