Greetings, everyone! Blessings to you in our Lord Jesus Christ, and welcome to Tuesday’s edition of EDiBS. It’s great to have you along as we start another week in God’s Word together, and though we’re a day later than usual due to some hiccups in the studio on Sunday, we still have some great portions of Scripture to look forward to as we get back into the swing of things. We have quite a bit before us today in the eighth chapter of John, so let’s go right to prayer as we open our Bibles.
Father, you are Lord of all creation; you are the Father of lights, the one from whom every good and perfect gift comes. We thank you especially for the gift of your Son today, who died that we might live, and who rose again to provide for us a victorious entrance into your kingdom. We approach you not on our own merit, but solely through the perfect life, sacrificial death, and triumphant resurrection of Christ. As you have drawn us to yourself, now teach us through your Word. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
As we get started today, Jesus continues to elucidate to the unbelieving Jews in His midst why it is that He and they do not share the same Father. Our rather blunt focus this session: “You do not belong to God.”
42Jesus 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. 43Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44You 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 of lies. 45Yet 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? 47He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God."
Several of my friends and colleagues — a group we jokingly refer to in our circle as the “Friends of a Certain Age Gang” — have been commiserating lately about our growing tendency to mishear things as we get older. For some of us it’s probably due to all the loud music we listened to as teenagers. For others of us it’s the result of years spent dividing our attention and trying to multitask as parents or pastors or whatever other profession we’ve been part of. Regardless of the reasons, however, the outcomes are the same: on more occasions than we’d like to admit, we just don’t hear — or for that matter, listen — like we should. Sometimes that leads to comical situations, but other times it can lead to a failure to understand, or to arguments. And truth be told, our occasional bouts of poor hearing can even be used as a convenient excuse to deny having heard or known about something that we did hear. I’m sure I’m not the only one here today who’s familiar with the term “Selective Hearing!”
In today’s section of Scripture here in John 8, Jesus is speaking to Jews who have refused to listen to Him, who have refused to receive His teaching. They are a hardened bunch, and they’ve been more interested in excoriating Him and excusing themselves than they’ve been in giving consideration to anything He has told them. In response to such ongoing brazenness and denial, Jesus now exacts a piercing charge, and part of that charge has to do with the fact that these people have taken the idea of selective hearing to a whole new level. In fact, Jesus goes so far in today’s text as to tell the Jews that they have become calloused in their hearts to the point that they are now unable to hear Him.
Verse 42: Our Lord begins in verse 42 by putting down the claim of the unbelieving Jews that God is their Father. If that were so, if they were really God’s children, then it would be manifested by their love for Jesus rather than their rejection of Him. For the umpteenth time, He reminds them that He came from God to them and for them. He did not come of His own accord, but God literally sent Him.
Verses 43-44: That being the case, Jesus continues in verse 43 by asking, and in the same breath answering, the great question of the moment: why is His language not clear to those who are rejecting Him? The answer is that they are unable to hear what He says, and the reason they are unable to hear Jesus’ words and embrace His teaching is that they belong to, and are listening to the voice of, someone else; a different father. With this revelation, in verse 44 Jesus now gives a quick excursus on the person and work of Satan – and the main characteristic of this great enemy is the fact that he is absolutely void of truth. In fact, lying is his native language, and he can even package his words so that they taste like honey. But make no mistake, says Jesus: the devil is the father of lies. “You,” He says to the unbelievers in the crowd, “Have listened to him instead of God. And by listening to him you have been deceived. Further, you not only listen to him, you belong to him.”
Verses 45-47: Not content to let things rest there, the Lord has still more to say on the subject, and His barrage of holy proclamation thus continues against the people. As we move into verses 45 and following, we now see Jesus summing things up by giving a thesis, as it were, and He does so in brief, concise statements. I’m declaring the truth, but you do not believe Me, verse 45. Can you prove Me guilty of sin? Of course not – I not only speak the truth, I embody the truth with my whole life and you know it. So again, why don’t you believe Me?, verse 46. And finally, in verse 47 comes the clear conclusion of the matter: “He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God."
Wrapping things up, these are hard words coming from the Savior of the world – but they are words spoken not of Jesus’ own volition, not from His own heart...they are words spoken in response to the volition and hearts of those who have turned against Him. Remember, because our Lord is the embodiment of truth, the Author of truth, because He is truth, He always speaks what is right in any given situation. And the right words He is speaking here are words that announce judgment against unbelief. They are words which announce that the rejection of God’s Son is rejection of God Himself, and they are words that speak to that fact in an uncompromising manner. I feel a little bit like a broken record by saying this, but here again we have a classic example of the black-and-white nature of the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Put simply, He does not give us the opportunity to embrace Him in the realm of the gray.
As you might imagine, He, and we, will have much more to say about that as we move deeper into the ministry of Christ and closer to the cross of Christ, so do stay connected and be sure to join in each day, won’t you? There’s so much to glean from the gift of God’s Word, and our main reason for coming together each day is to unwrap that gift and delight ourselves in all that it gives to us. Until next time, take care, God’s peace, and have a great day!