john 8:39 – 47
39 They answered him, ‘Abraham is our father.’ Jesus said to them, ‘If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing* what Abraham did, 40but now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. 41You are indeed doing what your father does.’ They said to him, ‘We are not illegitimate children; we have one father, God himself.’ 42Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now I am here. I did not come on my own, but he sent me. 43Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot accept my word. 44You are from your father the devil, and you choose to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. 46Which of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? 47Whoever is from God hears the words of God. The reason you do not hear them is that you are not from God.’
The conflict continues – the listeners (are they still those who had believed, or has the audience changed to those who would persecute him – it seems the latter, those whom John sometimes calls the “Jews”, the religious leaders, seem to have taken over the other side of the argument.) The listeners do not understand that Jesus is speaking of God, the Father, when he says he speaks what he has heard from the Father. They protest that Abraham is their father. Jesus tells them that if they were Abraham’s children, they would be faithful and follow God – they would do what Abraham did. Since they are not doing that, but instead are trying to kill the One who comes from God, they are not Abraham’s children but Satan’s. Now they protest that they are God’s children. But Jesus says that if they were God’s children they would love him, for God has sent him.
We, too, are God’s children, and we are called upon to love one another – to love our neighbor – even to love our enemy, because that is what Jesus would do, what the Father sent him to do.
Jesus goes on to question, “Why do you not understand what I say?” They cannot accept his word – because the devil is their father and they choose to follow him. They are choosing hate and selfishness, protecting their positions, over hearing what Jesus is saying to them. They hate so much they are willing to kill. Do we sometimes have trouble understanding what Jesus is saying because we want to protect ourselves, our cherished ideas, our memories of how things used to be? Is it time to listen?
“Whoever is from God hears the words of God. The reason you do not hear them is that you are not from God.” If we claim our role as God’s Children, then we must hear the words of God – we must love our neighbor.