Text: John 8:37-47
BACKGROUND: Jesus had just saved the woman from being stoned to death who was caught in the act of adultery. Then, He was being challenged by the Pharisees regarding His identity while He was teaching in the temple. Jesus made an incredible assertion that He only spoke to the world those things that the One who sent Him spoke to Him, but the Jews (his audience) did not know that He was referencing the Father as being the one who sent Him. Then, Jesus came right out and told them that it was the Father who had sent Him. During all this dialog, John said that many believed in Him. At that time Jesus started speaking to “those Jews who believed in Him” according to verse 31 of this chapter, which makes the dialog in this text very interesting. His contention was that to be a disciple, the criterion was for the person to abide in His word. This raises the obvious question: If a person does not abide in His word, can they be called disciples? Jesus went on to tell them that those who abide will come to know the truth which will make them free from the enslavement of sin. His message was that the Son can make them free. How is the Son going to make them free? He will give them the TRUTH – the Spirit of truth that will abide with them forever, that will be in them. All of this is contingent on us abiding in His word – sojourning, not departing from, but continuing to align yourself with Jesus’ words (John 14:15-17). These Jewish believers still were relating to Jesus only on the basis of His humanity, not understanding His divinity. They started to tout that they were free men because of their genealogical connection with the friend of God, Abraham.
THE STORY: These Jews saw their identity only in terms of the flesh. Jesus was soon to instruct them on the fact that God makes a distinction between descendants and sons. They are not necessarily synonymous. These descendants of Abraham were seeking to kill Jesus, and He knew it. The cause for this murder in their hearts was that His word had no place in them. The audience was still mixed between those who believed Him and those who wanted to murder Him. A few verses earlier, Jesus had told the audience how important it was that they hold onto His words, but some could not find a place in themselves to receive His words. Hence, they could not understand His speech because they dismissed His words of instruction. They were incapable of listening to His words. Their whole identity was in their national figure, Abraham, the father of their nation. This extreme national identity caused them to close their ears to the One who called their father Abraham and who made him into a nation (John 8:56-58). Jesus pushed back on their claim that Abraham was their father by pointing to the murder in their hearts. Abraham had encounters with I AM and his emissaries, but never did he want to kill them because he didn’t like what they told him. In fact, when the three men approach Abraham’s tent at the oaks of Mamre, Abraham recognized Yahweh and beckoned Him to stop for a while to be refreshed. He washed their feet, fed them and availed himself to serve them for the purpose of refreshing the three during their journey. Abraham attended to them, finding place in him for the word of God. This is an example of the “works of Abraham” who believed God – the antithesis to the Jews’ murderous plots generated by their true father, the devil. Just like today, when someone is losing an argument, they frequently resort to name calling. The Jews spoke against Jesus’ momma, calling her a fornicator (John 8:41) and accused Jesus of being a Samaritan (i.e. a despised half-breed) because His hometown was in Samaria. Then to top it off, they accused Him of having a demon (John 8:48,52).
At first glance, when I thought about Jesus saying of the devil, “He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him…” – I thought about the first recorded murder in Genesis – the story of Cain and Abel. Yet, there was an earlier murder in the scriptures that took place as we look at the incident in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1-24). Yahweh had commanded man to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, “…for in that day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:17). While Adam and Eve were in the garden, continually in the presence of the Almighty, they were immortal. When they ate and were expelled from heaven on earth, their immortality expired – it died. This was the big lie of the serpent who convinced Eve that she would not die if she ate of the tree, despite Yahweh saying exactly the opposite. It was the evil one’s plan to eliminate Yahweh’s image-bearers’ (mankind’s) everlasting dominion over the earth. His deceit brought death to man and woman. He was a murderer from the beginning.
Jesus told the Jews that when their father speaks a lie, he speaks out of his own resources (i.e. Greek: Pseudomai – to falsify, deceive, lie, misrepresent). He posed a rhetorical question when He asked, “Why do you not understand My speech?” Without waiting for a response, Jesus provided the answer: “Because you are not able to listen to my word.” Listening is the key to understanding, but the Jews were too interested in positing their own supposed legitimacy based on the genealogical record. They had the same desires as their father who was a murderer. Were they going to succumb to that desire or would they resist it? This choice was the same choice that confronted Cain (Genesis 4:7) when the Lord warned Cain that sin was laying (in wait) at the door of Cain’s (heart) longing to have rule over Cain. This first man-child of the first couple had become angry with God and allowed his countenance to fall because God did not accept his sacrifice. His countenance fell (i.e. meaning that he turned his face away from God as God was trying to give him instructions on how to rectify his situation). Cain refused to listen to Yahweh, just like the Jews confronting Jesus. Choice was still available to Cain – choice to do well which would result in being lifted back up to right relationship or choice to not do well which would subject himself to the presence of sin which was crouching at the door. Yahweh clearly warned Cain that sin would open him to sin’s desire. Your choice, Cain. Choose wisely, but know this – you may still rule over sin, if you humble yourself and do well. We know what choice Cain made because in the following verse Cain murdered his brother. Cain chose to embrace the desire of sin. For some reason, Cain did not want to abide in the presence of Yahweh because he did not want to listen to Him, evidenced by his fallen countenance (turning away from the face of God.) When one turns away from God, to whom does He turn? The alternative is to embrace the other cosmic force that would desire to rule over man. Cain ended up yielding to the rule of sin over him which resulted in embracing another “father” and became a murderer like him. “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer…” (1John 3:15).
Who’s YOUR daddy?
1John. The Holy Bible – NKJV. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2010. Print.
Genesis. The Holy Scriptures. Philadelphia, PA: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1955. Print.
Hebrews. The Holy Bible – NKJV. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2010. Print.
John. The Holy Bible. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2010 – NKJV. Print.
Photo: From darkness into light by Susana García Blanco