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The Fifth Sunday in Lent, March 17, 2024

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The Fifth Sunday in Lent, March 17, 2024

Jesus and the Jews conflict.  When the evangelist John uses the term “the Jews,” he refers to the religious and political elite, people like the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Sanhedrin, the scribes, etc.  “The Jews” for John is a catch all term for those wielding power.  Jesus conflicts with those in power.  Jesus accuses the Jews of not loving him (vs. 42) … of being unable to understand what he says (vs. 43) … of being unable to bear the hearing of his word (vs. 43) … Jesus names them as sons of the devil, believing lies rather than the truth of Jesus’ words (vs. 45).  Jesus continues by alleging that they are not of God (vs. 48), not honoring him (vs. 49), not keeping his word (vs. 51), and not knowing God (vs. 55).

All through the exchange, the Jews continue their pressure on Jesus.  They call him a Samaritan—that is, one of mixed blood (vs. 48).  They accuse him of being demon-possessed (vs. 48 & 52).  They challenge his claim to knowing Abraham (vs. 57).  Jesus so provoked the Jews that they desired to stone him (vs. 59).  Jesus, however, had other plans, hiding himself, and disappearing from the Temple.

While we as contemporary 21st century religious folk may not number ourselves among those elites of ancient times, we are much like them in the power we wield (or think we wield) over our lives and the lives of others.  Jesus comes to stand against us and the power we wield… the power to decide who’s right and who’s wrong… the power to decide who’s in and who’s out… the power (supposedly) to decide whether we will believe in Jesus… accept his words… or give glory to his Father.  Jesus comes confronting us with our sin.  He confronts us with our misuse of power.  His confrontation exposes us.  He provokes us.  By that provocation, we are revealed, numbered among those who would stone Jesus.  It’s as if the more power we wield, the less able we are to hear Jesus’ words.  After all, God himself declares that his power is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor. 12:9).

Table Talk:  Discuss wielding power and Jesus’ confrontation with it.
Pray:  Heavenly Father keep me in the weakness of God’s grace.  Amen

John 8:(42-45) 46-59

(42 Jesus said to them, If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. 43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.)

46 Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? 47 Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.

48 The Jews answered him, Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon? 49 Jesus answered, I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. 50 Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge. 51 Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death. 52 The Jews said to him, Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death. 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be? 54 Jesus answered, If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, He is our God. 55 But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad. 57 So the Jews said to him, You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham? 58 Jesus said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am. 59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.

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