Tuesday, March 27, 2012

John 8:37-47

I’ll be reminding you throughout this study that the point of John is that it is crucial what we believe. It’s the theme of his gospel. This particular passage of John is a long one! The Jews are making the “religious” argument about their identity as Jews. They claim to be the children of Abraham, as surely they were his physical descendants. In fact, in verse 39 they declare with pride, “Abraham is our father.” This is the argument of all who claim they are right with God because they belong to their church affiliation. “I know I’m okay with God, because I’ve gone to the First Church on the Corner for 35 years!” “I am saved because I was baptized at the Holy Church of the Confessor.” “Surely God looks down on me favorably because I’m a deacon at the Righteous Church of Jesus Christ.” “My grandfather was the founding pastor at Community Church of the Truth.”

God has no grandchildren! We become His children when we receive Christ as our Savior (John 1:12). Jesus enters into a debate with these leaders to point out the futility of their reasoning:

“If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do the things Abraham did. As it is, you are determined to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. You are doing the things your own father does.” (John 8:39b-41)

Check out Hebrews 11 to see how Abraham was declared righteous before God. It was because of his faith, not because of his rich religious heritage. The Jewish leaders weren’t hearing Jesus:

“We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.”

Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” (vs. 41b-47)

Jesus equates the truth He is giving them with the words of His Father, and He argues that THEIR father is the father of lies, Satan. How can that be that religious men, zealously keeping all of these religious rules and practicing their rituals with precision could be children of the devil?? The Bible calls Satan an “angel of light.” He doesn’t come at us as the cartoon character with the red devil suit and the horns. He prefers subtlety - he engages us with an appearance that appears to be so good and so righteous. Note his classic temptations with Eve in the Garden in Genesis 3 or with Jesus in the desert in Matthew 4. But Paul warned us in Galatians, “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!” (Gal 1:6)

Basically, Jesus is arguing that if we are not wholly committed to Him, we are on the side of the devil! There isn’t a middle ground. Have you fully committed yourself to Christ or to a church? Are you relying on your religious heritage or on your relationship to the Father through His Son? Tomorrow we’ll look at the passage in which Jesus makes His most outrageous claim - the one that really sets the leaders plotting!


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