John 8:31-32 Jesus then said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."
Christian life and following have a lot in common. As Christians we follow our savior, and while it might sound easy, there are 2 great difficulties. The first difficulty is listening, listening involves hearing someone, and understanding what we hear. Sometimes we don't hear because of physical problems, sometimes we don't hear because we are distracted, by noise or other people. The second problem is doing what he heard, do we understand how to do it, can we remember what we are to do, can we keep doing it, without getting distracted until it is done.
As Christians it is not enough to just hear the word, we must also do what we hear, and not just once, but it something that must continue. Being a Christian is not just something for Sundays, but it is for every day. Being a Christian is hearing the Word, doing the Word, continuing in the Word, remaining in the Word - because being a Christian is about living in the Word.
And when we do all this then we are disciples, disciples are people who follow Jesus, follow Jesus everyday. Disciples do not just follow, they also bring other people to follow Jesus. People notice when we follow Jesus, they notice because we are different. And because we are different, people will ask us, why do you follow Jesus? So we tell them the truth, the truth that makes us free. What is that truth, it is simply this, that the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin, that Jesus, by his death and resurrection, has freed us from bondage to sin, to death, and to the devil, and has given us peace with God and eternal life. That's the truth that sets us free.
And that's the paradox, as important as it is for Christians to follow their Savior, in the end, that is not what sets us free, because that is something we do, and we do it imperfectly. The truth is, that Jesus sets us free, Jesus has done everything to set us free, and not only that, Jesus reveals to us this truth that sets us free.
And it is this great mystery that we celebrate when we celebrate the feast of the Reformation. For we are celebrating that we are saved by grace through faith in Christ, and not by works. We are giving thanks to God, because God wants all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth, so that everyone can be free. And God wanted all people to be saved so much that God did everything necessary, nothing needs to be added. Some may say, well, you've got to have faith, which is true, but even faith is not something we do for ourselves, faith also is a gift of God.
Which brings us back to that question of following. Since we need to hear, God opens our eyes, since we need to understand what we hear, God opens our minds, since we need to believe, God opens our hearts, since we need the truth, God has given us his Word, since we need forgiveness God has given us His only begotten Son to be our Savior, since we need to continue in the Word, God has given us the Holy Spirit, at every corner, in every need, God is there to provide whatever is required, this is the depth of his love, this is the breadth of his mercy - nothing is lacking. This is the truth that sets us free.
And we continue in His word, because where else could we go, here only are the words of eternal life. This has always been the heart of the church, this is what Luther sought to restore to the world, this is why we give thanks to God, for He continues to reveal to us his truth, his grace, and his love in Jesus our Savior.