8/2/11

John 8:41-47 – What They Do and No Spiritual Orphans

Having gone into detail about what Abraham did, we can now examine what Jesus says of the Jews actions.

John 8:41–47 (ESV) — 41 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.” 42 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. 43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44 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 has nothing to do with 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. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. 46 Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? 47 Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”


1) CHILDREN DO THE WORK OF THEIR FATHER

John 8:41–42 (ESV) — 41 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.” 42 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.

Works of their Father:
Jesus contrasts the work Abraham did, the work of his Father Yahweh, with the works the Jews are doing, “you seek to kill me” (vs. 37).
• He then suggests that they do this because this is what their “father did”.
• When speaking of what their “father did”, Jesus, among other things, is certainly referring at the very least to His encounter with Satan in the wilderness (Matt 4:1-11).
• Matthew 4:3–11 (ESV) — 3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written, “ ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ” 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “ ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’ ” 7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “ ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’ ”
What was Satan’s intent?
• Clearly he sought to “kill” the ministry of Jesus and subjugate Jesus to his dominion.

Are the Jews in our text really seeking to do Satan’s work?
• This teaching of Jesus is incredibly profound and significant.
• The Jews certainly did not wake up that morning and consider all the ways they could embrace and further the kingdom of Satan.
• They believed their service was to Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
• More on this shortly.

So what is the implication here?
• One implication of this has to do with one’s worldview.
• “A worldview functions as a set of habits, forming background beliefs that direct our acts of noticing or failing to notice various features of reality” – J.P. Moreland.
• The worldview of the Bible is asking us to understand that what we think we know from the 5 senses (empiricism) is not the only or even the primary source of truth and knowledge about reality.
• There is in fact a spiritual reality and truth behind all that we encounter with our senses.
• And this reality and truth is as real, valid and even primary.

What is sad here is that the Jews embraced the truth of a spiritual reality without hesitation.
• This is in stark contrast to the current western worldview of scientific naturalism.
• But they nevertheless rejected Jesus.
• As Jesus said, “If God were your Father, you would love me…” (vs. 42).
• And as Jesus said elsewhere:
o John 5:23 (ESV) — 23 that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.
o John 15:23 (ESV) — 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also.
• Whatever was right with their beliefs and worldview, one glaring problem was that it failed “to notice various features of reality”.
• Specifically, Jesus relationship to the God of Israel and Abraham.

They certainly thought they noticed the truth of Jesus.
• After Jesus’ words, the Jews insult Jesus.
    o “The Jews’ rebuttal may imply the illegitimacy of Jesus’ birth” – Kostenberger.
• They then argue that their father is God (vs. 41).
• As such, they are perfectly qualified to make judgments about those who claim to speak on God’s behalf.
• They are not failing to notice anything – Jesus is a bastard and a blasphemer worthy of death.
• Jesus responds to their charge with the following logic:
    o (1) Trusting in the revelation of God the Father about Jesus leads to a love of Jesus
    o (2) You do not love Jesus
    o (3) Therefore you do not trust in God the Father’s revelation
    o (4) So God the Father is not your father and your trust is in someone else

Why did they fail to notice?
• Jesus has answered this question already on a number of occasions, e.g., in John 6.
• And in answering the question in today’s text He uncovers another facet of unbelief for us.
• Unbelievers, by default, are in service of the devil.

2) CHILDREN HEAR THEIR FATHER

John 8:43–44 (ESV) — 43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44 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 has nothing to do with 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.

They don’t believe because they cannot bear (aren’t able) to hear Jesus’ Words:
A fallen heart produces a fallen worldview.
• As we have seen this worldview fails to notice various aspects of reality, namely the truth of Jesus.
• And in fact, Jesus now tells us that people who live in this realm (John 8:21-29) cannot even “bear to hear my word”, Jesus says.
    o By “cannot bear to hear” Jesus means that they don’t receive or accept what He is saying.
• As usual the Bible is its own best commentary:
    o Jeremiah 6:10 (ESV) — 10 To whom shall I speak and give warning, that they may hear? Behold, their ears are uncircumcised, they cannot listen; behold, the word of the LORD is to them an object of scorn; they take no pleasure in it.
    o 1 Corinthians 2:14 (ESV) — 14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

It gets worse:
• Jesus doesn’t ease up.
• As we have seen before, he is concerned with authenticity not numbers.
• He goes on to argue that they “are of the devil” (vs. 44) and their will is to do the bidding of the devil.
• In other words, they do what their father the devil does just as a little child naturally does what his father does.
    o I have a great example of this from my childhood with the burner.

The implications of this correspond to the rest of what the Gospel of John teaches on this subject.
• There is no neutral ground of belief, heart and mind, works, truth or knowledge.
• As alluded to earlier, this does not mean that those that reject Jesus are explicitly seeking to do the will of the devil.
• These people can often be kinder and more selfless than many believers.
• However, the truth of the matter revealed by Jesus here is that if you don’t believe He is who He and the Father say He is, then you are in service, even if only implicitly, of the devil in the spiritual realm.

Why is this so?
• If one believes in Jesus and His testimony about Himself then one is in agreement with God the Father (and Abraham for that matter).
• On the other hand, unbelief, as we know, is rebellion against the claims of Jesus and the Father; a rebellion against the truth.
• And so whatever is done in rebellion to God, done in unbelief, is a rejection of the truth and an embracing of a lie.
• So this life glorifies the devil the “father of lies” (vs. 44) who has “no truth in him” (vs. 44) whether or not this glorification is implicit or explicit.
• This is an incredibly divisive teaching and the world thinks we are “wacked out” for even suggesting it.


So why can’t unbelievers, who reject the testimony of Jesus and implicitly serve the devil, hear the truth of Jesus’ words?


3) CHILDREN ARE DECIEVED BY THEIR FATHER

John 8:45–47 (ESV) — 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. 46 Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? 47 Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

Jesus has (2) reasons in our text for this.
• (1) The truth of Jesus is rejected by unbelievers because as THE truth it is rejected by their father the devil.
    o And children do what their father do, as we just discussed above.
• (2) They are not of God.

Kostenberger sums Jesus’ explanation this way:
• “This undercuts Jewish presumption of their election by God and their own righteousness on account of keeping the law. Like Nicodemus, they must be born from above (3:3, 5, 7) with a birth that is not predicated upon human factors but is of God (1:13). Though in one sense they were God’s children, in another, all-important sense, they first must “become” God’s children by faith in Jesus (1:12).

BTW – Jesus’ words in verse 46 are best explained as follows:
• “Jesus does not ask whether anyone thinks he is guilty of sin. Clearly, many did (e.g. 5:18, where some thought he was guilty not only of breaking the Sabbath, but also of blasphemy by making himself equal with God). The question, rather, is whether anyone can prove him guilty of sin” – D.A. Carson.
• If Jesus has no sin this means, contrary to the devil, He will not and cannot lie.
    o Isaiah 53:9 (ESV) — 9 And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.
    o 2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV) — 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
• If they cannot find Him guilty of sin and thus incapable of lying, His testimony should be believed.

But as we have seen throughout this entire lesson, an explanation for why the truth is not believed by seemingly intelligent people even with a sympathetic spiritual worldview is because their father is a liar.
• 2 Corinthians 4:4 (ESV) — 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
• These people cannot see or hear the truth, and in fact see it as nonsense.
• And “by rejecting the truth incarnate [one has] marked themselves out as children of Satan” – MacArthur.


Lessons for Us:
2 Corinthians 2:11 (ESV) — 11 so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.
• The devil is real and is personal and has an agenda to obfuscate the truth.
• The truth is found in God’s word and it is in His word that we gain knowledge to defeat his “designs”.
• And there are no spiritual orphans.
• One’s spiritual father is either God or the devil.
• If Jesus believes this then we need to.