John 8:38 – 47
38 I am telling you what I saw when I was with my Father. But you are following the advice of your father.” 39 “Our father is Abraham!” they declared. “No,” Jesus replied, “for if you were really the children of Abraham, you would follow his example. 40 Instead, you are trying to kill me because I told you the truth, which I heard from God. Abraham never did such a thing.
41 No, you are imitating your real father.” They replied, “We aren’t illegitimate children! God himself is our true Father.” 42 Jesus told them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, because I have come to you from God. I am not here on my own, but he sent me.
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43 Why can’t you understand what I am saying? It’s because you can’t even hear me! 44 For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.
45 So when I tell the truth, you just naturally don’t believe me! 46 Which of you can truthfully accuse me of sin? And since I am telling you the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47 Anyone who belongs to God listens gladly to the words of God. But you don’t listen because you don’t belong to God.”
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This passage is the second of three in which Jesus is talking specifically with those who were professing to say that they believed in Him. Go back to verse 31 and you will see how Jesus switches His audience from the whole crowd of Jews gathered there in the temple in Jerusalem, to “the people who believed in Him.”
Having said that, this makes it even more shocking as we look at what it was that Jesus says to these people. In this passage, Jesus accused these people of not being true descendants of Abraham, but rather that they were liars, rejecters of Jesus and His teachings, and doers of evil like their father the devil. Ultimately, Jesus says that they were not true believers in Him.
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Wow!! That sounds extremely harsh, doesn’t it? Especially in light of verse 31 which identified them as “people who believed in Jesus.” I encourage you then to go back and read last week’s article, “The Truth Will Set You Free.” In that article, I suggest that while these people may have given mental assent to the truth statement that Jesus was the Messiah, they were not prepared to give their whole lives over to Jesus and move from theoretical knowledge about Jesus to experiential knowledge of Jesus.
Now before we look at the details of this passage, let us remind ourselves that just as other verses in the Gospels point out, Jesus always knew what was in the hearts of the people with whom He talked. So let us look for clues in this passage which will help to reveal to us what was really going on in the hearts of the people.
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As I looked more closely at this passage, I believe I discovered at least four places which give us some insights into the state of their hearts. First of all, in verse 38, see how Jesus refers to “my Father” and “your father”? Everyone by this point would know that Jesus was stating that “His Father” was God. So note the response of the people when Jesus mentioned “your father”. They immediately state, “Abraham is our father.”
Sorry folks, that’s the wrong answer. We should never place a person in the place of God. And this obviously shows that these people were concerned more about their blood lineage to a man of faith, than being concerned about their relationship with God. They were believing that by following the examples of Abraham, that they would be found worthy by God.
But even if rituals could win over relationship with God, Jesus went on to point out that they were not really following Abraham’s example anyways. Scripture tells us that “Abraham believed God and was then considered righteous.” But his righteousness was backed up with obedience to God’s words. And these people were even thinking about killing Jesus because they could not accept His words of truth.
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So Jesus implies that they follow the pattern of a different father, meaning Satan. The people catch that barb and throw one right back by saying, “We are not illegitimate children!” Here again, the old rumor surfaced about the idea that Joseph and Mary conceived Jesus outside of marriage and that would make Jesus an illegitimate son. They turned the attention off of themselves who were not obedient children of God, and they turned instead to name calling and mud slinging (false) accusations at Jesus.
Finally, Jesus makes it quite plain. Not only were these people not really wanting to receive His teachings, and thus they find they were not even in a position to understand what He taught, but Jesus clearly pointed out that they “love to do evil things” just like the devil would have them do.
So we can now clearly see, the hearts of these people were still being ruled by sin and Satan. There is no room in such a heart for God to do His work of forgiveness and make such a person a child of God. No, a true child of God has turned his/her back on sin and renounced Satan and accepted Jesus and His teachings into his/her life. And so I ask in closing, “Are you a true child of God?”
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