“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.” (Reference: John 8:31-37 )
I could wish beloved, that I had Preacher and Seeker here to help me move slowly and meticulously through this passage. I consulted Albert Barnes and he was not able to answer my question on this passage. My question is this – How could Jews who proclaimed that they believed in Jesus also seek to kill him? Or am I putting to much emphasis on the depth of their belief?
Barnes suggests they are new believers, and have not been tested yet. This may be the reason – if only yesterday or the day before they sought Jesus’ death because at that time they were convinced Jesus was an impostor and fraud, there may not have been time realize the fuller and deeper implications. It is one thing to belief, but quite another to put that believe into action and organize your life around it. And the fact that they are still strongly identifying with Abraham might indicate that their concept of faith still rests on Old Testament principles. What the Old Testament calls sin and how Jesus was defining sin were two different things. In addition, Jesus is creating a new theology and a new way of talking about “belonging” and purity issues, and so many more things.
As I was searching the commentaries on this passage, I came across the “Pulpit Commentary” and it answered the question that I had of this passage. According to this commentary the believing Jews were people “who accepted the Messianic claims, but persisted in interpreting them, not by his word, but by their own ideas of the theocratic kingdom, by their privileges as children of Abraham, by their national animosity to their nearest neighbours the Samaritans, by their inability to press behind the veil of his humanity to his Divine nature. Their faith was of the most imperfect kind . . . “ This explains sufficiently for me what is going on in this passage and why Jesus says they still might decide to kill him. For Jesus was not necessarily they kind of Messiah they were looking for.
But I am straying from the theme – Sin. It may be hard for new converts/Christians to understand that with new belief comes new ways to live out that belief. And one’s failure to do so has large and far reaching consequences. And that these failures are not just “oops” in life, but opportunities for faith to erode and your old way of life to intrude. This is what sin is. Sin will trap you and keep you trapped until you are set free by the Son who is the true source of all things. When you are trapped by sin, you are a slave to it and labor under its demands – we shall not talk about how unpleasant that is. But when you are set free you belong to the family of God and all the pleasantness and shalom is yours to enjoy. And may you enjoy it and your relationship to God to the fullest. Selah!