Have you ever thought about how much our families influence how we turn out? How people may look at us and say, "That's just like your mom" or "you remind me of your dad"?
In this passage, we're going to see this on a spiritual level.
Let's dive right in!
This has been a very powerful chapter, hasn't it? There has been much conflict and much more teaching. First we saw the Jewish leaders try to trap Jesus with the issue of the woman caught in adultery. Instead of trapping Jesus, they were confronted with their own sins. Next they heard statements from Him that they did not want to hear: "I am the light of the world," and "the truth shall set you free."
Here are our verses for today:
I know that you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word. I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father.
“Abraham is our father,” they answered.
“If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do what Abraham did. As it is, you are looking for a way 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 works of your own father.”
“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 have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God 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 desires. 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? Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.
I think we can all agree that a godly heritage, a heritage of spiritual guidance, can be an awesome influence in our lives. What was the heritage that Abraham provided? In Hebrews 11, what some people call the pantheon of our heroes of the faith, we read:
By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.
This is the heritage that the Jewish leaders would point back to, but that they were only giving lip service to. Jesus is pointing out that they need to "walk the walk, not just talk the talk", right?Jesus is willing to concede that they are physically of Abraham's line; like the bluebloods in our New England states, they could point to a genealogy that would go right back to Abraham. But it's not a convincing response; it doesn't end the argument. They may have been the heirs of Abraham, but they were certainly not fulfilling the promise. They were supposed to be a blessing to the nations, a light of revelation to the Gentiles! These Jewish leaders did not have vision and could not discern that this was their long-awaited Messiah . . . as Jesus said, they were actually children of darkness.
"Abraham is our father!" they said.
"Abraham is our father!" they said.
Because a godly spiritual heritage doesn't guarantee righteousness. We can't have wisdom and righteousness on someone else's coat-tails, so to speak. Just because our mom, our grandmom, or a whole line of folks were awesome, godly people, that doesn't mean we are automatically godly. Our dad or our great-granddad could have been the most incredible preacher or godly layman ever, but that doesn't guarantee that we are righteous.
Jesus makes it clear as He talks to them, that their actions do not line up with Abraham's actions. They are not being consistent with Abraham's example for them. Their desire was to kill Jesus -- definitely not an "Abraham thing," right?
But it shows a line of thinking that was prevalent at the time, and that we can see today as well. They thought that the eternal kingdom would be given to those who were the seed of Abraham -- even if they were sinners and unbelievers . . . even if they were being disobedient to Jehovah God. Now whether these leaders would actually voice that or not, we don't know. But it sure seems like they were thinking along those lines!
We do know, however, that Jesus points them in a different direction.
What He tells them is that religious privilege does not guarantee a way into the kingdom. They were not automatically in. They were not automatically righteous. They were not automatically sin-free. So their loud outcries about being Abraham's heirs kinda falls with a thud.
They were hostile to what God was doing, and about Who He sent to do it. That certainly was not following Abraham's example.
We'll talk more about this next time . . . in the mean time, maybe we should think about our own lives. Who will people see as our father? Will they see our lives pointing to the Father, or somewhere else?