The Challenge by Hannah Elhard
“You look for an opportunity to kill me, because there is no place for you in my word.”
As the audience in this passage does, it is easy for us to disregard this passage. Make ourselves separate, “I would never KILL Jesus. This passage doesn’t apply to me.” But are there other ways to understand the word “kill” here rather than the literal death?
If we replace the word “kill” with ones more nuanced and familiar, then perhaps this passage becomes more relevant: “You look for an opportunity to ignore me, to warp me, to set me aside, to make excuses about me, to lessen me, because there is no place for you in my word.”
When Jesus challenges and makes us uncomfortable, how quickly do we find a way around what he’s asking of us? I know I often pat myself on the back for doing what I consider my best, for being generally kind. But we know that wasn’t the message of Jesus. He didn’t come to make us comfortable or to affirm our current reality. He came to challenge us to create the kingdom of God here on Earth.
Words and phrases such as “kill” and “kingdom of God” seem larger than life, so much greater than our everyday lives and choices. But surely, we can find ways within our current lives, moment by moment, choice by choice and day by day to turn towards Jesus’ message. We can allow it to challenge and change us, rather than looking for reasons to turn away.
John 8: 31-42
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.’ They answered him, ‘We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, “You will be made free”?’
Jesus answered them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are descendants of Abraham; yet you look for an opportunity to kill me, because there is no place in you for my word. I declare what I have seen in the Father’s presence; as for you, you should do what you have heard from the Father.’
They answered him, ‘Abraham is our father.’ Jesus said to them, ‘If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing what Abraham did, but 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. You are indeed doing what your father does.’ They said to him, ‘We are not illegitimate children; we have one father, God himself.’ Jesus 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.