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26 March 2015

Read today’s Gospel Reading: John 8.51-end

St John’s Gospel is very clear – the reason Jesus is targeted by the religious establishment is that he claims to have a unique relationship with God. It is Jesus’ readiness to identify himself closely with God, his Father, which so offends the religious establishment. In claiming to have been in existence before Abraham, he not only claims superiority over their great ancestor, he is identifying with the great ‘I am’, the God whose name they dare not properly speak. No wonder they took up stones to throw at him. In their eyes, this was blasphemy.

The reality is, however, that words will not ‘glorify’ God. The present argumentative mode of the conversation, prompted by some rather aggressive questions to Jesus will not get them anywhere. It is not what Jesus says or does, however wonderful, that will convince people. In the end it will be for the Father to glorify him, through the mystery of his death on the cross for our sins, and of his resurrection, giving us new life in the Holy Spirit.

If Jesus’ words did not convince all his hearers, then we should not be surprised if people sometimes don’t appreciate our attempts to share the Gospel. In the end it is for the Father to glorify the name of Jesus, and for Jesus to bring glory to the Father. This means we are utterly reliant upon the Holy Spirit, who makes things happen, who makes the word come alive, putting the word into action in healing, forgiveness, and reconciliation.

Though we should always to be ready to speak about our faith, this is no use if it is all talk. We rely on God to make it real, and we must be ready for him to do so.

Don’t rush in where angels fear to tread – wait on God. As it says in I Thessalonians 5.24, ‘He who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.’

Today’s Gospel Reading: John 8.51-end

Very truly, I tell you, whoever keeps my word will never see death.’ The Jews said to him, ‘Now we know that you have a demon. Abraham died, and so did the prophets; yet you say, “Whoever keeps my word will never taste death.” Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets also died. Who do you claim to be?’ Jesus answered, ‘If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, he of whom you say, “He is our God”, though you do not know him. But 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. Your ancestor Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day; he saw it and was glad.’ Then the Jews said to him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, before Abraham was, I am.’ So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.