They responded that they had never been the slaves of anybody - never mind that they were under Roman occupation as their mouths were moving.
Jesus replied that whoever commits sin is the slave of sin. Freedom then involves freedom from sin. When we're dependent on sin, for example, in bondage to the love of money or swollen with pride, we're slaves. Always. Bragging about our independence is just as nuts as those believers in Jesus under Roman occupation boasting that they had never been slaves of anybody.
Like them, who were slaves of sin but also of men, Americans today are slaves of men in every way and far from independent in any way. Being addicted to petroleum, we are slaves of those from whom we must import it. We are slaves of the Chinese, the Japanese, and everyone else that we must depend on to lend the US $2 billion a day, since as it is written, "The borrower is the slave of the lender."
We are slaves of those who buy the federal Congress and all of our state legislatures with their bribes, who do everything to lead us to medium term, never mind long term, destruction in order to make the most possible profit this quarter. We are addicted to war, so that we can't walk away even from stupidly following the Soviet example of self-destruction in Afghanistan, returning like a dog to its vomit to our own march of folly in Vietnam 50 years ago.
We are slaves of a stupid and fanatical ideology of "democracy" and the "free market" , which has demonstrated its impracticality, worthlessness, and total divorce from its stated principles as much as Soviet Communism did back in the day. Promoting democracy means invading, bombing, subverting, and starving those that vote wrong - for their own interests - instead of voting to be dominated and exploited. The free market means corporate domination and rip-offs of whole nations including our own - the freedom to be robbed.
This insane ideology doesn't even work for us, never mind those robbed and murdered in our names. Our jobs are disappearing forever. Our homes are being foreclosed on. Our services are being taken away. Our infrastructure is falling apart. And all of this so that the banksters and their pals who have trashed and plundered the American economy for short term gain can make even more money at our expense. Are we any less bewitched than those who always had an explanation for the failures of Communism?
Jesus said, like all that came before him, that those who humble themselves willl be lifted up, and that those that exalt themselves will be abased.
I saw a lot of proud Americans yesterday - so declared their T-shirts. Proud of what? Who among us that saw any other nation behave as ours does would think that that nation had anything to be proud of? When our deeds and condition are shameful, shouldn't we put away our pride and be ashamed? Or as Jeremiah said, is it a virtue that we are unable even to blush? Did it go well for those people to be that way?
Perhaps if we put away our conceit and bombast and learn to be ashamed - being in so many ways the shameful nation that we are - if we hear and declare the truth before our God, then we might find mercy and escape from the trouble, unlike what we've ever seen before, that is quite obviously coming our way. If we continue in our scoffing and audacity, surely then, "Pride comes before stumbling, and a haughty spirit before a fall."
The only real independence, as Jesus said, is found in submission to and dependence on the truth. The independence that Americans celebrate is proud self-assertion and empty boasting, and that is dependence on sin - the way of death, although it seems right in our delusion. We have gone very far down that road, and professing Christians deepest of all in this insolence. Let us pray, for real, and turn from our ways.