John 8:31-42 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
31Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; 32and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. 33They answered him, We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, You will be made free?
34Jesus answered them, Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. 36So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. 37I know that you are descendants of Abraham; yet you look for an opportunity to kill me, because there is no place in you for my word. 38I declare what I have seen in the Fathers presence; as for you, you should do what you have heard from the Father.
Jesus and Abraham
39They answered him, Abraham is our father. Jesus said to them, If you were Abrahams children, you would be doing[b] what Abraham did, 40but now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. 41You are indeed doing what your father does. They said to him, We are not illegitimate children; we have one father, God himself. 42Jesus said to them, If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now I am here. I did not come on my own, but he sent me.
Jesus is standing before a mob.
Recall the crowd surrounding the women caught in adultery in our reflection a couple days ago. On this day, stones in hand (revealed in verse 59), these leaders had already made up their minds. Jesus was guilty and leading the Judean people astray. Jesus was deserving of death.
But Jesus stands resolute. As we observed in yesterday’s reflection, this is not the kindly and meek teacher we have conditioned ourselvesto see. This teacher surprises, and maybe jostles our preconceptions a bit.
Jesus doesn’t conform to our projections, but He loves to form our affections.
The summation of Jesus charge against those gathered against Him is, surprisingly, that they aren’t free. This astonishes them because they are descendants of Abraham, they proclaim, and have never been slaves to anyone. (what short memories!)
Jesus ends His discourse powerfully by pointing out if they were truly children of God they would love Him.
Whenever someone assents to violence they are silently revealing their enemy-sourced marching orders. Much of Christendom history is dirtied by violent characters not led byour King but dressed up in noble and royal garb and carrying about with a divine-like persona.
Routinely during Lent we should pause to turn our attention outward in prayer for the Kingdom to come.
Pray today for those evidences we see in our world affairs where we often seeleaders proclaiming the need for invisible-enemy-driven violence clothed in the garb of divine righteousness to accomplish seemingly righteous political or even corporate objectives. Pray that these leaders would open their hearts to being adopted as God’s sons and daughters.
Pray for the same for those within your circles of influence who are living lives of seemingly justified violence inwardly, perhaps battling rage, unforgiveness and hypocritical comparison to others.
Pray for yourself and ask God to reveal and heal any areas where you are doing violence to others by the way you see them, your attitudes that may be unloving, or by they way you distance yourself to avoid engaging and serving them in love.
Pray for yourself and ask God to reveal how the ways you view yourself, talk to yourself, and judge and limit yourself are doing violence to your soul indicating you are not following Jesus as a direct heir to the throne. Ask God to help you live like the royal heir to the throne that you are, to love God, yourself and others with a humble, divine dignity.
Image by Susan Evans