They answered him,“Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. You are doing the works your father did.” They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”
Understanding And Applying the Text
This passage is part of a larger discussion Jesus is having with the Pharisees. They are in the Temple on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles. Jesus has just told them they were slaves. They displayed an incredible sense of self-delusion. They claimed no one ever enslaved them. They are children of Abraham.
They believed their lineage gave them a special status. They believed they were a holy race. They believed they had a special standing before God. Yet they had nothing to rely upon other than a physical lineage. They had no faith. Their trust was only in their lineage. “For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel.” (Romans 9:6)
Christ’s response is interesting. It is clear He never read the book “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” Didn’t He know he wasn’t going to attract followers with this type of language? Jesus was not good at marketing. But, Jesus does not rely on marketing.
Today, the church believes it must market itself. It no longer follows Jesus example. Many churches rely on marketing research and surveys. They ask, “What are people looking for? What are people interested in? What is it they think they need?” Then they try to attract people to their church by following the results of the market survey rather than preaching the gospel.
They try to entice people to come to church with light shows and rock concerts. They the have the audacity to call it a “worship service.” The only thing they worship in those gathering is themselves.
If you doubt me, ask, why do you attend your church? Is it the music? Or maybe, the preacher is funny. Or maybe, they have a wonderful children’s program. It could be your friends are there. If the reason is anything other than to worship and glorify God, you are worshiping yourself.
But you may say we have to get people into the church. They cannot get saved unless they are in church. Let’s use Jesus’ methods. He taught people. Let’s do what Jesus commanded us to do, teach. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:19-20) The purpose of the worship service is worship.
Our goal is not to get people into a church service. Our goal is to preach Christ and Him crucified. Our goal is to lift up Christ. It is not to do market surveys to gather large crowds. “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:32)
When we teach we should expect rejection. The world rejected Christ. Why should we expect anything less? We are the body of Christ.
Jesus confronts their false religion with a full frontal assault. “You Father is not Abraham. It is the devil.” Here again, if we were advising Jesus we would say ease off a little on the language. Jesus, you need to win them over with kindness. We might even say, “You are not being Christ-like.”
Jesus says they were trying to kill Him. The Pharisees had tried twice to arrest Jesus during the Feast of the Tabernacles. So they knew full well that Jesus was correct. They did want to kill Him.
Their response was, “We know our father. You do not. Yeah, we heard about Mary. Our mothers were not whores like your mother. You are a bastard.” Again they clung to physical lineage. They believed their parentage meant God was their Father. Their reasoning went like this. “God adopted the family of Abraham. We are Abraham’s descendants. The result, by irresistible logic, is we are God’s children.”
Rome uses the same logic today to claim the Papacy is the head of the Church. We cannot rely on physical lineage or succession to claim any special right before God.
Jesus gave them a test to see if God was their father. The test was, “Do you love me?” The answer was clear, “No.” Since you do not love the Son, God is not your father.
Jesus asks a simple question. But the answer is profound. “Why do you not understand what I say?” Jesus stated the truth in a clear manner. The answer is their father was the devil. There is no truth in the devil. The more truth they heard they stronger they reject it.
We are God’s children because we resemble Him. He governs us by His Spirit. Christ lives through us. We are God’s children because He conforms us to His image. But the devil is the father of those he blinds to the truth. The devil is the father of those he moves to commit acts of unrighteousness.
The Pharisees’ logic was sound. Their conclusion was valid but incorrect. Logic acts on facts or assumptions. If those facts or wrong and the logic is valid the conclusion will be wrong, guaranteed. The Pharisees assumed they had a special place before God as a birthright. There is no birthright to salvation. The Abraham’s God had to become Issac’s God. Issac’s God had to become Jacob’s God. Jacob’s God must become our God. We are saved through faith, not through birth. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. That is the only way we are justified before a righteous and holy God.