John 8:31-42 NRSVue
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 Father’s presence; as for you, you should do what you have heard from the Father.”,
39They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you are Abraham’s children, you would do 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.
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Some thoughts on this scripture
That is a grand, bold phrase: /The truth will make you free/. It is used in all sorts of rhetoric, but when it comes to the crunch, it can terrify me. It is hard to face the truth of my own addictions, of the unfaithfulness of somebody close to me, of the signs in my body of approaching death. Yet when I acknowledge such truths, they can liberate me.
Prayer is a time to immerse ourselves in the meaning of the word of God - ‘to continue in his word'. The word of God in the gospel leads us into the heart of God where we find love - love received and love requested. The mystery of the passion and death of Jesus is a mystery of love before ever it is a mystery of suffering. The suffering of the passion of Christ is the suffering of love to the end, and of love for all.
Jesus hearers were stuck in their sense of themselves, in the pride they took in their heritage. Perhaps I can admit that I too have sometimes climbed the wrong heights, have congratulated myself mistakenly. I know that my true dignity lives in my being a child of God. I pray that I may show my true worth in how I live and call others to a deeper and richer sense of themselves.
Jesus wants to lead me into truth so that I may be free. If I truly desire freedom, I need to be ready to accept the truth. There is nothing threatening or accusatory here-it is about being known fully and loved deeply.
John shows the people who listened to Jesus as being prickly and precious, quick to defend their religion and righteousness. Jesus’ replies show them that they have forgotten love and relationship.