To keep the word of someone is to uphold whatever one says It is the acknowledgement of the words of that person and the desire to keep to it. When we keep someone’s word it means to accept that what one says is true.
To keep the word of God is that full acceptance that whatever God says is true and we desire to accept them as true and keep to them.
In the gospel of today John 8:31-42, Jesus’ discussion with the Jews continues. Through the discussion, Jesus reveals the secret of what truly happens when we keep His word. From the discussion in today’s gospel we can delineate these points:
1. First of all, before the beginning of today’s gospel, John tells us that Jesus was addressing the Jews who believed in Him.
The surprising part is that as you go through the discussion, you would observe that there is still something lacking. Though they may believe in Him as John tells us, their responses reveal they are yet to come to a full understanding of what Jesus was saying.
Example: When Jesus tells them that His words will make them free, they reject it. They told Jesus that they can never be slaves to anyone.
The Jews begin to ask Jesus what He means by saying that His words will make them free. In essence, the Jews are yet to understand what Jesus is saying.
This is why Jesus takes time to teach them and uses their responses to make them understand. Therefore to know who Jesus is, we need to listen to His words. If we have the hunger to read and keep His word, we will gradually come to know God.
Like the Jews today, it is not all about saying I believe in God. It is not all about being a church member. We need to know and eat the word of God every day.
Before the feeding of the five thousand, Jesus knows they need bodily food, but He, first of all, taught them (Mark 6:32-44). He fed them with the food of the spirit first. Before the miracle of the great catch, Jesus took his time and taught them first (Luke 5:1-11).
So, the word of God is very important in our lives as the food we eat. To come to a knowledge of God, we need to make His word our daily food.
To put it like this, Jesus today tells the Jews who believe in Him, “hey you have believed in me, so now you need to take my word to your home”.
2. To keep the word of God is a way to show we are indeed His disciple. To be a disciple of someone we have to know what the person wants us to do and what he does not want us to do.
The way to know this is to listen and keep His word. At the beginning of today’s gospel, Jesus says “if you make my word your home, you will indeed be my disciple”.
The Greek word used in this verse for “indeed” is alēthōs meaning true, sincere, actual. Hence Jesus is saying, “yes I know you believe me and you follow me, but the way I can know that truly you do is to keep my word”.
Hence if we are sincere to call ourselves disciples of the Lord, then we have to abide by His word.
3. In John 8:31-42, Jesus says, if we keep His Word, we learn the Truth. Truth means something is real, a fact. There is no deception in it.
To come to the knowledge of the truth about who Jesus is, what God demands from us, how to relate with God etc, we need to abide by the word. Therefore, the word of God saves us from ignorance and makes us wise.
4. Jesus also says in John 8:31-42, if you keep my word, you will know the truth and the truth shall set you free.
When they asked him what He meant by that, Jesus replied that “anyone who sins remains a slave to sin. The place of the slave is not assured and he inherits nothing. Only the place of the son is assured”. Hence Jesus is saying that to be safe and assured in God’s hands, we need to abide by His words.
To be assured of God’s grace, we have to keep his word. To keep His word is to be sure of eternal life (John 5:24).
In John 8:31-42, Jesus also says “And if the son of man sets you free, you are free indeed”. Hence Jesus accuses them that the reason they want to kill Him is that His words have not penetrated their hearts.
Hence, Jesus is saying that anyone who abides by the word of God will long to love and to be close to the Lord. There will also be that earnest desire, not to live in sin.
So, whoever keeps and abides by the word of God does not live in sin, hatred, ignorance, wickedness, disunity etc. To keep the word of God is to be free from the bondage of sin and evil.
To keep the word of God is for our good. It draws us close to God, it helps us to know God more, it brings us close to God and sets us free from the bondage of Sin.
To abide by the word makes us true disciples and children of God as Jesus said in the gospel of today. Let us willingly accept and live by the word.
May God bless you and give us the grace to abide by His word. May He never forsakes you. Amen