This week’s MAV installment…John 8.31-59…I affectionately call it “Whose your daddy?”
Wanting to prod these local Judeans further, deeper in this turn towards trust in him many were experiencing, Jesus issued this challenge:
“It takes more than nodding your head and crossing your heart to make you one of my followers; you have to settle deep into my Message and make it your home. Then you’ll be a bona-fide follower – and then you’ll finally and fully begin to grasp the Big Picture of all Reality, and step into true freedom.”
The word “freedom” triggered some of them in the crowd politically and they bristled, “How dare you imply we need freedom! We are Abraham’s offspring, for crying out loud! We are free, our heads always held high – how can you say we will step into true freedom when that’s what we already are!?”
Jesus responded patiently,
“I’m going to say this twice and mean it: you’re hearing ‘political status’ and I’m talking ‘moral condition’ – and anyone stuck in endless repetitions of the same immoral ruts is clearly chained like a slave to those habits of heart and life. There’s no home and heritage there – only the exiled existence of a slave who’s here today and gone tomorrow; but a son has lasting roots in the family that only grow deeper over time. And if such a Son unshackles you from your own destructive ruts, then we’re talking real freedom, not just slogans about it slapped on your bumpers.”
“Let’s face facts. Yes, you are Abraham’s offspring – yet you seek to do me in because you can’t stomach what I have to say to you. And why not? I’m only feeding you what Abba is dishing up – so if you can’t stomach my words, it’s clear that you have another father who’s been touching your palate and shaping your appetite.”
Once again they bristled. “Abraham is the only father we have known or need!”
Jesus was unrelenting.
“If that were so, if you really were Abraham’s children, then we wouldn’t have a problem here because then you’d walk, talk, and look like Abraham. But that’s not Abraham’s face I see – contorted with murderous rage towards someone who has simply told you the Truth he has heard from God himself. No, that’s not Abraham’s way at all. You’re mimicking another parent altogether.”
Bristling to the breaking point, they howled, “We’re not illegitimate children (unlike someone else we could mention); our one true father is God himself!”
“If that were so, you’d be embracing me with open arms and inviting me in because your Abba – God – is my Abba; you’d see and own that he’s the one behind my being here and we’d be on the same family page; I’m not some upstart Johnny-come-lately pretender. The God you lay claim to is the very one who sent me here to your doorstep. Why can’t you follow my drift? Simple.You don’t have the capacity to listen to what I have to say for the simple reason we don’t share the same Abba at all. We’re speaking different languages. Let me give it to you straight: Your father is the devil himself and it’s his agenda that you’re wedded to. He has been anti-life from the get-go, a real killer, with no grasp of Truth because there’s no room for truth in him. That’s not his game. Lying is his game. Whenever he opens his mouth, out pops another lie. Falsehood is his native tongue – and he’s the author of the language. Now I show up speaking the Truth, and you won’t believe or put up with it for a moment. ‘Does not compute!’ you shout. Well, show me where I’ve miscalculated! Show me where I’m wrong. And if you can’t pinpoint my error, then why can’t you embrace my answer – embrace me? God’s kids listen when God speaks. Which makes this all rather academic: you won’t have it – have me – because you don’t have God.
End of story.”
The opposition had had it. They snapped, “Aren’t we exactly right when we say that you are no better than a Samaritan half-breed and demon-possessed to boot?!”
Jesus stayed cool.
“I don’t have a demon. I honor God, and all you can do is dis me. I’m not tooting my own horn, promoting myself. Someone Else makes that call and does the promoting. So, again, I’ll say it twice and mean it, ‘If anyone goes beyond merely playing with my words to actually carrying out their full meaning and intent, no death for him! Not now. Not ever.”
The Judean in-crowd didn’t miss a beat. “That settles it. You have ‘satanic’ written all over you. Abraham is dead. The prophets are all dead – and yet you have the gall to say that if anyone who carries out the full meaning and import of your words won’t have to deal with death, not now, not ever! Who do you think you are? Greater than Abraham? Greater than the prophets? Handing out life while all they ultimately experienced was death? Who are you making yourself out to be?”
Jesus, not flinching in the least, told them,
“If I’m fashioning my own persona, it’s a PR campaign that will fall flat. There’s nothing to it! But God is my great Promoter – the One of whom you shout the claim, ‘He’s our God!’ The truth is, you don’t have a clue who he is. But I know him. And if I said that I didn’t know him to be more acceptable to all of you, then I’d be just as big a liar as you are. Oh, but I do know him – and I carefully carry out the meaning and import of what he says. You say Abraham is your father, right? Guess what? Abraham was doing cartwheels of joy at the prospect of seeing me, seeing my day come. And see it he did. And then he did his own little happy dance.”
The opposition couldn’t believe the nerve of this guy.
They scoffed at him,
“You’re not even fifty years old yet, and you’ve seen father Abraham. Right!”
Finishing the conversation he started, Jesus put it out there plain:
“I’ll say this twice and mean it: Before Abraham ever even existed, I AM, I was, I will be.”
That tore it.
They got his meaning.
They picked up stones to stone him to death for such arrogant irreverence.
But Jesus slipped right through their fingers – they looked up after picking up a rock to hurl at him, and he was gone, out of the temple and on his way.