February 25, 2014
Dear brothers and sisters,
I am taking the good news today from John 8:46-50.
“Can any of you charge me with sin? If I am telling the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever belongs to God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not listen, because you do not belong to God.” The Jews answered and said to him, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and are possessed?” Jesus answered, “I am not possessed; I honor my Father, but you dishonor me. I do not seek my own glory; there is one who seeks it and he is the one who judges.”
Barclay has an interesting read of this passage. He imagines the scene with Jesus pausing after asking if anyone could charge him with a sin. No one spoke up. Then he asked them why they don’t believe him and again waits for a reply. Again, no one spoke up. Then he leveled his charge that they don’t belong to God despite what they told themselves.
How did they respond? With an insulting slur; they called him a Samaritan, an apostate, and tried to dismiss him as being possessed by an evil spirit. How often I have resorted to this same tactic particularly in the political realm despite believing that I belong to God, the God of compassion, of forgiveness, of acceptance and love! It’s as if I haven’t heard the words of God as Jesus said. If I had and really taken them to heart, I wouldn’t dismiss or ridicule others who don’t share my beliefs; I wouldn’t discriminate against them as different and therefore inferior to me; I wouldn’t call them names. But I do over and over again in spite of my resolve to stop. This is what Jesus was up against — people like me! As Barclay writes so chillingly, “They were in the terrible position of men who were godlessly serving God.”
Jesus simply replied that he honored his Father and that his Father would be the one to judge. That is a simple sentiment that I would do well to keep in mind when I feel compelled to judge those I don’t agree with. He gives me an additional admonition: don’t seek my own glory, my own need to be right, my own determination to impose what I believe and value on others. Just adhere to the word of God and belong to Him by being His instrument of compassion and justice. In so doing I honor Him, my Father.