Then they said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father–God.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. . . . Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” Then they took up stones to throw at Him – John 8:41-42, 57-59
At the heart of the conflict described in John 8 was Jesus’ relationship to His Father. “I am not of this world,” He told them (verse 23). Jesus explains that He “came from God” and that God “sent Me” (verse 42). What did He teach? “I speak to the world those things which I heard from Him” (verse 26). Then and now, Jesus’ clear statements about Himself are reinvented, restated, reinterpreted, or rejected, but rarely are they taken at face value. They are revolutionary, and for most people, they are unacceptable.
Individuals will go to great lengths to reject the truth about God and avoid a relationship to Him. As these religious leaders challenged Jesus, they stumbled down the pathway of rejection:
- they challenged His truthfulness – “You bear witness of Yourself; Your witness is not true” (verse 13);
- they challenged His origins – “Where is Your Father?” (verse 19);
- they challenged His identity – “Who are You?” (verse 25);
- they challenged His message – “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can you say, ‘You will be made free’?” (verse 33);
- they challenged His spirituality – “Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?” (verse 48); and
- they challenged His authority – “Now we know that You have a demon! Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and You say, ‘If anyone keeps My word he shall never taste death.’ Are You greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? And the prophets are dead. Whom do You make Yourself out to be?” (verses 52-53).
But religious debate turned into attempted murder when Jesus said, “before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:58). This was a bold declaration of deity. “I AM” was a reference to the sacred and holy name of God, “Yahweh” (Exodus 3:13-15). Hearing what they believed to be blasphemy, the deeply offended crowd picked up stones… the conversation was over, and Jesus walked away unharmed.
How’s your conversation with Jesus going?
In the midst of an all-out attack on Jesus, His opponents brought up the well-known question about Jesus’ paternity. “We were not born of fornication,” they said (verse 41). It was a cheap shot. Mean. Hurtful. Almost no one had believed Mary’s story how she had become pregnant through the Holy Spirit, but Jesus knew the truth about Himself (Luke 1:21-38). The problem was that these men didn’t know the truth about themselves. Claiming to know God as “Father,” they missed God. Completely.
Drop the stones. Stop challenging Him and dissecting Him… just listen to Him: “If God were your Father, you would love Me,” He said (verse 42).
When you are dealing with the one, true God of the universe… you will fall in love with the baby born in Bethlehem. It’s that simple. And it’s an inescapable reality within the Christmas Revolution.