Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Tuesday in Pentecost, Proper 17: The tragedy of rejecting the truth

Opening Sentence
The hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him. John 4:23

Sing Your Praise to the Lord

Commemoration: Paul Jones
Merciful God, who sent your beloved Son to preach peace to those who are far off and to those who are near: Raise up in this and every land witnesses, who, after the example of your servant Paul Jones, will stand firm in proclaiming the Gospel of the Prince of Peace, our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Psalter: Psalm 26, 28

Lessons: Job 12:1, 13:3-17, 21-27Acts 12:1-17John 8:33-47

In light of Israel's experience in Egypt, the claim, "We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone," is absurd on its face. The Israelites were enslaved for four hundred years until God raised up Moses to deliver them. In neglecting this defining moment in their history, Jesus's critics in today's reading demonstrated just how lost and enslaved they were. Jesus's words offended them because they hit too close to home. In their hearts, they were still in Egypt, still enslaved, yet unaware that they had ever been enslaved at all. Their response to Jesus was perfunctory, first claiming fatherhood from Abraham and then from God.

Jesus did not mince words with such people. Their failure to accept his words proved conclusively that they were neither children of Abraham nor children of God. Their father was the devil, and they were behaving exactly the devil would. They were rejecting the truth in favor of the father of lies. They could not bear Jesus's words because his words were the truth. The devil could not speak except to utter lies. That was his character, Jesus said.

To have the devil as one's father, then, meant not only believing his lies, but also living them. The tragedy for Jesus's detractors was their complete ignorance of the truth about themselves. They were slaves to sin and offspring of the devil. They were living a lie. Jesus offered them the truth, that they might be set free. Their tirade did nothing but prove how utterly lost and enslaved they were.


O Lord, You're Beautiful