Daniel 3:14-20, 24-25, 28
John 8:31-42


Nebuchadnezzar’s golden statue stood over 27m high on the plain of Dura in Babylon. Although it is unclear exactly where this is, the area must have been chosen to be big enough to be able to see this statue from afar. His command that everyone was to prostrate themselves and worship this statue was to ensure total obedience of those that he ruled over – of which there were many.

This all sounds somewhat farcical, but for the fact that it isn’t. Three people – Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego – stood firm against this decree and refused to obey even when they were hauled up in front of the king. Their reply was to put God first, ‘if our God, the one we serve, is able to save us … he will’ and ‘we will not serve your god or worship the statue.’ These are powerful testaments to their trust and faith in God and to the Commandments. They did not waiver in the face of the enemy and stood by the truth. This cost them their lives. And as ‘they walked in the heart of the flames, (they) praised God’ (Dan 3:24).

In the Gospel, Jesus and the Jews are in dialogue about how to attain truth and freedom from slavery. The truth is to be found when the Word is welcomed into our hearts and makes a home in our lives. Slowly but surely, the light that shines from the truth will enable us to see what is false in our lives and will set us free. What are we spiritual slaves to? Is this temporary ‘happiness’ really good for us, or does it, in fact, keep us in bondage and away from the Lord?

Physical slavery and bondage are still realities in our world – be it in sweatshops making cheap clothing, mining of precious metals and minerals in illegal mines, trafficking of young girls and women for sexual exploitation and illegal migrants trying to survive in our own country often in any way that they can. This untold human suffering is intolerable.

As we journey towards Jerusalem with Jesus in his final days, let us stand firm to the Way, the Truth and the Life. It was Jesus who bought everyone’s freedom with his life on the cross. Lord, we beseech you to release us from the bonds of all slavery so as to be set free forever.

Victoria Raw is parishioner of Te Whetu O Te Moana, Star of the Sea Marlborough, NZ and is active in lay ministry.