There was a lively exchange between Jesus and the Pharisees.
The Jewish people being of the linage of Abraham, were God's "Chosen People, and often referred to themselves as the "Children of Abraham."
They believed that the Covenant God had established with Abraham assured, and perhaps even guaranteed their entry into Heaven.
They were blinded to the prophecies concerning the Messiah. Even with the evidence Jesus had provided to Prove that He was the Messiah, they totally rejected Him and His "New Covenant."
Jesus told them that, if they were truly the Children of Abraham, they should have reverence for Him, because He was the One they had been expecting; and their
refusal to accept Him revealed that their father was, the devil.
VERSE 31-32: "To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
Those who believe in Jesus
should accept His teachings. Some had faith in Him, but had not yet reached the point
of being full believers, or as Jesus said "really my disciples."
Others who had originally believed were, by the end of today's study, ready to stone Him.
Jesus said, "you will know the truth." The Old Testament word translated "truth" had more to do with integrity or
faithfulness to one's word or character, while the Greek translation
The Jewish thought would have characterized God as, "The Truth," so these people should have realized that Jesus was specifically referring to God's truth.
VERSE 33: "They answered him, We are Abraham's descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?"
It's a struggle to grasp their line of thinking. Their statement of, "never being slaves of anyone" is not valid, because they were slaves even at the time. The Jewish nation had been under bondage to at least four kingdoms: Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome.
However, Jewish teachers taught that Israel alone was ruled by God, and that these four nations were considered to be servants of God, and had simply carried out His will.
They believed, that during this time period, it was God's will for them to be under bondage: but that God would ultimately break the yokes of the other nations. (This belief is possibly behind the revolt of (A.D. 66-70.)
VERSE 34: "Jesus replied, I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin."
Jesus said, "Everyone who sins is a slave," and we are told in Romans 3:23, that "All have sinned..."
However, the Jewish teachers wrongly believed that, since they were under the law, they could not be enslaved by the "evil impulses of the Gentiles."
VERSE 35: "Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever."
Jewish slaves could interact with the family they
belonged to, but they did not have a permanent place in the family.
Under the Jewish Law: Slaves were to be freed in certain years.
Under Gentile Laws: Slaves could be freed, or sold to other households.
VERSE 36: "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."
True freedom can only come through Christ.
The word for free, "Doulos," used 124 times in the New Testament can mean: “Someone who belongs to another,” or “bondslave with no ownership rights of his own.”
VERSE 37: "I know you are Abraham's descendants. Yet you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word."
Jesus knows these people were of
the bloodline of Abraham, or the "Children of Abraham.
Considering their claim to be Abraham's children, how strange they would want to kill the One who spoke the Word of God. Abraham looked forward to the arrival of the Messiah, and this is certainly not what he would do.
That they have "No room for His Word," indicates their minds were closed to anything He had to say.
They believed descendants of Abraham who demonstrated their faith in God by obeying the laws, was virtually guaranteed salvation.
However, they did not understand that the covenant was changing; soon the only way anyone could reach Heaven would be through Jesus.
VERSE 38: "I am telling you what I have seen in the Father's presence, and you do what you have heard from your father."
Metaphorically, a father was someone whose ways were imitated, and was often a teacher, or spiritual leader.
Jesus' actions, during His earthly life was a result
of what He had seen while in the presence of His Father, God.
And the Pharisees were also doing what they had heard, from the one Jesus refers to (in verse 41), as their father, the devil.
VERSE 39-40: "Abraham is our father," they answered. "If you were Abraham's children," said Jesus, "then you would do the things Abraham did. 40As 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."
Abraham was the ultimate model for Jewish piety and hospitality, and the Pharisees continued their claim to rights, derived from their ancestry.
However; the true line of Abraham descent was on moral grounds, not on racial descent.
The true Children of Abraham must act in harmony with what Abraham did, which would not include the desire to kill Jesus.
VERSE 41: "You are doing the things your own father does." "We are not illegitimate children," they protested. "The only Father we have is God himself."
To suggest that someone had one father by law, but another father
by nature, was to suggest that one's mother was guilty of adultery.
This is still another reference Jesus makes to satan, "your own father."
It is also possible that their remark concerning "illegitimate children," was a slanderous reference to the birth of Jesus.
When Jesus questioned their ancestry they began to say that God was their father. They considered their descent, "children of Abraham" to be equivalent in Jewish literature to, "Children of God;" because God had adopted Abraham's descendants. (EX 4:22)
Children of the Devil:
VERSE 42: "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."
True children of God would also love Jesus, because He came from and was actually sent by God.
VERSE 43: "Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say."
Jesus had clearly presented evidence to proved He was the Messiah, but their minds were so against him that anything He had to say was disregarded.
VERSE 44: "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
The implication is that, Satan wanted to kill Jesus and the Pharisees were attempting to carry out his plans.
The devil was the original murderer and denier of truth. According to Bible background, Jewish tradition taught that a lie from Satan had led to Adam's death.
Satan is a murderer, liar, and in fact the father
of lies. According to translators, "The father of lies,"
might be more accurately interpreted as, the "The father of
Satan's most noticeable feature is
his hatred of truth. Though prevalent in the world today, we are told ,to not be like the world, (in this situation, Liars).
God hates lies even more than Satan hates the truth. "Thou shalt not lie" is one of the "Ten Commandments."
VERSE 45-46: "Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! 46Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don't you believe me?"
Jesus challenged them to prove that He was guilty of sin. His opponent's were saying that he was not speaking the truth, so was guilty of sin.
Twice in this Scripture Jesus refers to their inability to believe the truth. The greatest mistake they made was in not recognizing Jesus as the Messiah; but we can only wonder if even then they would have believed.
Jesus was "God the Son," and we were told earlier in this study in John 1, that nothing had been created without Him. He surely was involved with the writings of the Law and prophecies concerning His coming to earth as the "Messiah."
Many of these people were scholars and teachers of the Law, and Jesus was clearly disappointed. Their most prominent duty was to teach the Law and to inform the people of the coming Messiah, and they had failed miserably.
VERSE 47: "He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God."
Jesus' estimate, verses their own opinions of their holiness did not agree.
Claims of Jesus:
The last part of this study focuses on the claims Jesus makes regarding Himself, and the weakness of the opposing claims.
VERSE 48: "The Jews answered him, Aren't we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon possessed?"
Jesus' association with the Samaritans did not set well with His Jerusalem audience. The Samaritans not only insulted the Jewish temple; but challenged the Jews' claim to be the exclusive Children of Abraham.
Their attempt to associate Jesus with the Samaritans was their
way of saying they did not accept Him as a true Jew.
This is another indication of their total rejection of the truth concerning Jesus, and was a way of expressing their hatred for Him, just as they did the Samaritans.
In saying that He had a demon, they were slandering the Holy Spirit; thereby committing the "unpardonable sin," (Matt 12:31). This sin was not out of ignorance, but a continued and willful rejection of the truth concerning Jesus.
It was a sin against spiritual knowledge, because Jesus had presented ample evidence that He was who He claimed to be, the "Son of God," the "Messiah."
Their deliberate choice to insult the Holy Spirit and reject Jesus' ministry will not be forgiven.
VERSE 49: "I am not possessed by a demon," said Jesus, "but I honor my Father and you dishonor me."
Jesus had been sent by "Father God," and, according to Jewish law,
anyone who rejected a person's appointed agent also rejected
the one who sent that agent.
Needless to say, Jesus was not possessed by a demon; so He tells them that if they truly honored God the Father, they would also honor Him.
VERSE 50: "I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge."
It was not Jesus, but God who was seeking the glory. He is the judge, and everything must eventually give way to His Will.
VERSE 51: "I tell you the truth, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death."
All of mankind has an appointment with physical death, but Jesus was speaking of Eternal Life.
It is the second death Jesus was speaking of, (a Spiritual death the Believer will never experience).
VERSE 52: "At this the Jews exclaimed, "Now we know that you
are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say
that if anyone keeps your word, he will never taste death."
Most Jewish people, except the Sadducee's, would have agreed, that Abraham and the prophets are Spiritually alive with God.
Once again, they somehow manage to misunderstand His Words. They thought He was saying, that physical body would never die.
They could not understand that Jesus was talking about the Spiritual Eternal Life.
VERSE 53: "Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?"
They are clearly giving more honor to the prophets and Abraham, than to Jesus, but Jesus does not attempt to honor or glorify Himself.
VERSE 54: "Jesus replied, If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me."
Jesus was not looking for approval or glorification by others, nor did He glorify Himself.
The only One He earnestly sought to be glorified by, was God. Jesus was devoted to accomplishing the task He had been sent to do; afterward, He would be glorified beyond measure.
VERSE 55: "Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and keep his word."
Jesus knew that although these people were the Children of Abraham, they did not have a personal relationship with God. Jesus knew God, and to deny this would make Him a liar same as them.
"He is our God," was a confession of the "Old Testament Covenant." Those who truly kept God's law, were said, to Know God.
VERSE 56: "Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad."
Jesus was "The Great I AM." Even though Abraham had lived so long ago, Jesus clearly knew his thoughts; and He knew that Abraham had looked forward to the day when He would arrive as the "Messiah."
According to Jewish tradition, Abraham had been shown the
future kingdoms, as well as the "Messianic
era." And Jesus said, Abraham "saw it and was glad."
This can only mean that Jesus knew Abraham, both; when Abraham was on the earth, and later in Heaven.
VERSE 57: "You are not yet fifty years old," the Jews said to him, "and you have seen Abraham!"
In that period, fifty was the minimum age for involvement in numerous types of public service.
It seems that every attempt to reach these people had failed, yet He didn't give up. Doesn't that give us hope for those we
keep trying to reach?
Because of His persistence, many of them did accept Him.
VERSE 58: "I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!"
By saying, "Before Abraham was born" indicates there was a specific
time when Abraham's life began.
Jesus, speaking of Himself, said He was, "I AM," indicating that He was preexisting. "I Am the Ever Present One."
If Jesus had only wanted to suggest that he existed before Abraham, he would have said, "Before Abraham was, I was." However, "I AM," is a title for God.
Jesus claimed to be the, "I AM" was a claim to be Divine and Eternal.
The Jews finally understood that He was claiming to be "God the Son," but considered it to be blasphemy, punishable by death.
VERSE 59: "At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds."
These Children of
Abraham could think of no other treatment but stoning. However, as before, Jesus slipped away.
Jesus had an appointment with the Cross, and the appointed time was in God's Hands.
This concludes our study of the Children of Abraham.
Our Next Study is From, John 9:1-41:
"Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind"
Jesus restores a man's sight, then teaches the
people about True Vision, (and True Blinders).