Lenten Daily Gospel Reflection - 8 March 2013
They responded, “We are Abraham’s children; we’ve never been anyone’s slaves. How can you say that we will be set free?”
Jesus answered, “I assure you that everyone who sins is a slave to sin. A slave isn’t a permanent member of the household, but a son is. Therefore, if the Son makes you free, you really will be free. I know that you are Abraham’s children, yet you want to kill me because you don’t welcome my teaching. I’m telling you what I’ve seen when I am with the Father, but you are doing what you’ve heard from your father.”
They replied, “Our father is Abraham.”
Jesus responded, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do Abraham’s works. Instead, you want to kill me, though I am the one who has spoken the truth I heard from God. Abraham didn’t do this. You are doing your father’s works.”
They said, “Our ancestry isn’t in question! The only Father we have is God!”
Jesus replied, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God. Here I am. I haven’t come on my own. God sent me. Why don’t you understand what I’m saying? It’s because you can’t really hear my words. Your father is the devil. You are his children, and you want to do what your father wants. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has never stood for the truth, because there’s no truth in him. Whenever that liar speaks, he speaks according to his own nature, because he’s a liar and the father of liars. Because I speak the truth, you don’t believe me. Who among you can show I’m guilty of sin? Since I speak the truth, why don’t you believe me? God’s children listen to God’s words. You don’t listen to me because you aren’t God’s children.”
This is some of the harshest words Jesus ever spoke! There are some of us that don’t like to think that Jesus would ever say things like this. So, when we run across them, we think things like, “Well, this was ‘John’s’ view. He didn’t like the Jews - he was anti-semitic - and put his views into Jesus words.” (I’ve never understood that position, though. John, like most of the first followers of Jesus, was Jewish. I suppose a Jewish person could be anti-semitic, but I doubt it.)
Another position, a lot like the first, goes something like this, “We can obviously see that Jesus didn’t really say these things - they don’t line up with his other statements. We know, then, that this passage was edited some time later.”
Lastly, some people are just flat honest about it. “The Jesus I love would never say anything like this. I just can’t believe he would say this. So, I don’t believe he did.” Now, I say similar things about some of the stories I read in the Jewish Scriptures, especially some of the ones that talk about G_d. So, someone can call a foul on me here.
But I think Jesus did say those things. His point is quite clear. Before we get there, though, let’s back up a minute. This is a continuation of a conversation we looked at yesterday. The last thing Jesus said there was, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teaching. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” This comes at the end of Jesus saying that his way of being is the only real way to be human. That their way of ruling the world was coming to an end. What I’m trying to say is you can feel the tension rising as this conversation continues. Jesus told them that they really aren’t free. Freedom is only found in The Way of Jesus.
What I find interesting is that Jesus’ opponents change who their father is. At first they said their father was Abraham and then, when Jesus rebuts that, they say that G_d is their father. And that is who Jesus has been claiming as his father all along!
In both cases, Jesus states that their actions prove that they’re not who they claim to be. And then he says probably the most disturbing thing of all - their actions prove that their really children of the “devil” - the slanderer. In other words, their actions prove that they are against what G_d is doing through Jesus.
And it’s that right there that must give us the greatest pause. Instantly, I stop looking at other people and look at myself. Do I fall into that category? Do my actions line up with my confessions? Do they help in establishing and spreading G_d’s Realm “on earth as it is in heaven,” or do they fight against that reality?
That, too, was what Jesus was dealing with. The reality that had been put up by the Religious Elite and the other controlling powers was closing fast. The reality of G_d’s Realm was coming through Jesus, whether they liked it or not. And they didn’t like it. So they would do everything within their power to stop him. The thought was, of course, that if he was stopped, killed, then the oncoming storm would be stopped.
But they were wrong.
G_d’s Realm did come. It was fully established. It is now our responsibility to manifest that Realm, to prove that that reality is, well, real.
May G_d, through the Spirit, empower us to make our actions line up with our confessions.
In the Love of the Three in One,
Br. Jack+, LC