To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word.
Pastor Morgan Murray
Walnut Creek Presbyterian Church
My uncle is a retired pilot who loved working for an airline with a casual, friendly reputation. On one of his flights, a flight attendant was having a hard day. This was so apparent that one of the passengers casually asked, “Everything going okay?” Grateful for a sympathetic ear, the flight attendant described the challenges she had faced that day: Poor communication from a supervisor, low refreshment stocks, failure of the previous flight crew to clean the cabin properly, etc. Normally a friendly person, she allowed the airline’s air of familiarity to be her license to complain. What she did not know was that the passenger was one of the airline’s top executives. While her feelings of frustration could be forgiven, her willingness to freely share them with the public could not. Being a hard worker for the company was not enough. She failed to live out its highest value. When the flight ended, so did her job.
Today’s text describes a conversation between Jesus and some people who had begun to believe in Jesus. It starts off well enough, but by the end people are actively seeking to stone him to death! Why? Because Jesus declares that it is not enough to be a part of God’s people (“descendants of Abraham”); they must also live out God’s values by remaining faithful to Jesus’ teachings. When Jesus calls for this, stating that doing so will truly make them free, they take offense at the suggestion that they are not free people. The more they argue with Jesus, the more they reveal the sinful arrogance to which they are enslaved. They claim to be committed to the Kingdom, but in a few short verses they are prepared to kill the King himself. What do we do when Christ’s teaching offends us?
King Jesus, reveal to me the arrogance of my heart and the ways I fail to reflect the values of your Kingdom.