26 July 2017

John 8:31-47

“Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, ‘If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.’” (v. 31-32)

Psalm: Psalm 41


To know the truth is to gain something of value. After disasters, our politicians sometimes set up public enquiries, with promises to find the truth. In our day-to-day dealings knowing the truth can be much harder - we do not have the resources we really need to check. Particularly in times of hardship, loss or tragedy we really want to know the truth.

The debate in this passage is complex, it has many threads including: knowing the truth; puzzling over why so many of his own people rejected Jesus; what it means to be a descendant of Abraham (in other words, to be one of God's chosen people). Jesus was a Jew because he was descended from Abraham, and so were his disciples and the people he is engaging with in this chapter - hence "Abraham is our father" (v. 39). Yet there is a contradiction for they are trying to kill Jesus, not suitable actions for descendants of Abraham or those who claim to be following commandments. Their sinful intentions show that they are not truly people of God's household, but slaves to sin. The very people who claim to be good and right are the people whose intentions and words are so wrong. Somehow they are blinded by their own hypocrisy and need to be set free.

Truth can be hard to know, but one of our most useful checks is: Do words and actions tie together, does the whole picture make sense? To continue in Jesus' words, means to live it truly, to practise it. This brings us to those great words: "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free". The truth sets us free from hypocrisy, from sin - Jesus sets us free. Of course, this is why it is so tragic when Christians are found to be hypocrites; it is an easy danger but seems to be a sin that seriously worried Jesus. The very nature of hypocrisy makes it hard for the individual to recognise, while it is often blindingly obvious to others.

To Ponder

  • What hypocrisy can you see in your own life? Or if it is easier to answer, what hypocrisy might others see in your life?
  • What are the words that your life speaks?

Bible notes author

June Feather

June Feather is a manager and Religious Studies teacher in a sixth form college. She preaches in the Cleveland and Danby Circuit, and feels privileged to live in such a lovely area with its country and coastal walks.