Podcast Reflections

Reflection on John 8.51-59

Listen to a reflection for Lent 5: Thursday, 7 April 2022, on John 8.51-59

John 8.51-59

Jesus said to the Jews, ‘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.


Jesus said: Very truly, I tell you, whoever keeps my word will never see death.

The one thing every human being has in common is that their time in this world will end in death. This irrefutable fact makes it difficult for us to fully comprehend Jesus’ words at the beginning of today’s reading. On the most superficial level it sounds as though Jesus is promising something that contradicts the order of God’s creation. Such words would seem to play into the hands of the religious sceptics of the day. But … we know that Jesus did not lie; every one of his words were true.

As we are well aware, the Lenten journey ends in our remembering a death … the death of Jesus himself. However, we also know that that is not the end of the story. As foretold throughout the writings of the ancient prophets, Jesus rose again three days after his death on Golgotha. When we remember the reality of that which is at the heart of our faith, we can see Jesus’ words at the beginning of today’s reading making far more sense. Jesus is not offering his followers eternal life in this world, but rather in the divine realm of God’s great and eternal glory.

Too often we treat the annual cycles of commemorations and celebrations as a matter of routine. Too often we start our Lenten journey by weighing up the pros and cons of a Lenten fast that might benefit us in some way. Too often our resolve to serve others and to read our bibles every day are put on the back burner as we allow the demands of this world to take precedence over our declared intention to become ‘better’ disciples of Christ. Too often, the events of Holy Week and Easter become nothing more than ‘days on the calendar’ … days on which we eat ‘special’ food and do ‘different’ things.

Today we are hearing a promise … a promise that will not be broken because it is made by Jesus himself. Today we are being promised the greatest of rewards, if only we can remain steadfast and faithful in the mission that has been laid upon our shoulders in this world. We are all called to be disciples and apostles of Christ. We are all called to believe and follow with a level of sincerity that cannot be broken by the superficial whims of others. We are all called to share our faith with those amongst whom we live and work in order that the light and joy of Christ might be experienced, even in the darkest places in the world. Today we are being challenged to believe Jesus’ promise and to re-double our efforts to earn our place in eternity, that is his promise to us all.