Scripture: John 8:33-47 (NIV)
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?” Jesus replied, “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 that you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way 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 are doing what you have heard from your father.” “Abraham is our father,” they answered. “If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do what Abraham did. As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. You are doing the works of your own father.” “We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”
The first time we encounter Anakin Skywalker in The Phantom Menace, he’s a young boy that, along with his mother, is a slave to Watto the junk dealer. Throughout the course of the movie, we see Qui-Gon Jinn bet with Watto and win Anakin’s freedom. Watto deactivates the explosive inside the boy and he is free to go with the Jedi off of Tatooine.
However, as we see throughout the rest of Anakin’s story, he never truly is free until his final moments when he throws the Emperor over the rail and saves his son in Return of the Jedi. While until that moment Anakin/Vader had freedom of movement, the ability to do what he wanted, he was still kept enslaved to his passions and, eventually, to the machinations of Palpatine. He was the second most powerful person in the galaxy, but he still could not escape being ruled by emotions and evil.
The Jewish leaders of Jesus’s time also thought they were free, at least as much as they could be with Rome’s leash around them. They could practice their religion, they could go about their day without any notable restrictions, they could pretty much do what they wanted to do. Jesus saw through that facade, though, and called them out on their slavery to sin, to their inability to show love to others. They never would have acknowledged it or even thought it, but Satan had a hold on them as they were slaves to sin via their interpretation of the law (and their unequal application of it).
Sin can rule us as well–does rule us many times. We often try to shake off a sin, only for it to sneak up and take control of us yet again. All we can do is pray for forgiveness, pray for freedom, and try to do our best to be on guard lest it find us again. We are imperfect, frail creatures that are going to have to deal with this issue all of our lives. Thankfully, God knows exactly what we are and loves us anyway, providing true freedom through his Son. If the Son sets you free, you shall be free indeed!