Who Is Your Father?

Dad Son Walking

Reading the Word

John 8:39–47 (ESV)

39 They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, 40 but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. 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 does not stand in 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.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus told his opponents that they were not children of Abraham. As Jews, the people did not know why Jesus would say such a thing. After all, they were biological descendants of Abraham. However, Jesus meant that they were not the spiritual children of Abraham because Abraham received the word of God and obeyed it, unlike those who did not believe Jesus and wanted him dead. Instead, Jesus proclaimed, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.” The people’s unbelief and opposition to Jesus showed that they did not belong to God, but instead they belonged to the devil.

Those who belong to God are evident because they seek to hear his voice through his word and they desire to obey. Those who have no desire for the word of God and live their lives in disobedience prove that they do not truly belong to him. The word of God tells us that Jesus came into the world to save us from our sin and that we need to trust in him for eternal life. There is no other way of salvation. Have you trusted in Christ? Are you living according to the world of God? Who is your father?

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The Truth Will Set You Free

John 832 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 8:31–38 (ESV)

31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”

34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. 38 I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

After addressing his opponents in the previous verses, Jesus turned to speak to those who had believed him. He urged them to continue in his teaching. Surprisingly, Jesus went on to say that some of these “believers” were not actually followers at all. He said to them, “My words find no place in you,” and “I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.”

Many people may initially have a positive response to Jesus. Yet, it is also true that many will later fall away. To truly follow the Lord is costly (cf. Luke 14:25-35). There are many who only want Jesus as long as he is of benefit to them. Can he make me healthy, wealthy, and happy? As soon as the going gets difficult due to suffering as a follower of Christ or Jesus’ teachings interfere with our desires, superficial belief ends. It is only the true believer who has been born again through the word of truth and Spirit of God who is able to abide in the teachings of Jesus and find that they give true freedom and joy.

Are you abiding in the teaching of Jesus?

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You Will Die in Your Sin

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Reading the Word

John 8:21–30 (ESV)

21 So he said to them again, “I am going away, and you will seek me, and you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come.” 22 So the Jews said, “Will he kill himself, since he says, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?” 23 He said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.” 25 So they said to him, “Who are you?” Jesus said to them, “Just what I have been telling you from the beginning. 26 I have much to say about you and much to judge, but he who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.” 27 They did not understand that he had been speaking to them about the Father. 28 So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. 29 And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.” 30 As he was saying these things, many believed in him.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In this dialogue with the Jewish leaders (cf. John 8:13), Jesus got right to the point with the Pharisees. If they did not believe in him, they would die in their sins. The Pharisees had continually sparred with Jesus and refused to accept him as the Messiah. Now Jesus warns them that if they continue to reject him, they would not be able to go where he was going (i.e. to the Father). As a result of Jesus’ pointed warning, some did respond in belief (cf. John 8:30).

Jesus and the entire New Testament teach us that we are all condemned because we are all sinners. Jesus came into the word to save us from our sin and the punishment we deserve, which is eternal separation from the holy God who created us. Jesus died as a perfect sacrifice for our sins and all who trust in Jesus’ sacrificial work on their behalf will be saved. However, those who do not trust in Jesus will die in their sins and will not be saved. Those people will not spend eternity in the presence of God.

Take this as a strong warning. Trust in Jesus Christ today and find forgiveness and salvation in his name.

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Your Time Is Here

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Reading the Word

John 7:1–9 (ESV)

1 After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He would not go about in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill him. 2 Now the Jews’ Feast of Booths was at hand. 3 So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples also may see the works you are doing. 4 For no one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” 5 For not even his brothers believed in him. 6 Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. 7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil. 8 You go up to the feast. I am not going up to this feast, for my time has not yet fully come.” 9 After saying this, he remained in Galilee.

Understanding and Applying the Word

We read that it was the time of the Feast of Booths and Jesus was ministering in Galilee because those in Judea were seeking to kill him. Jesus’ brothers wanted Jesus to go to Judea to attend the feast. His brothers had witnessed some of his miraculous works, but they did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah (cf. Mark 3:21, 31-35). They did not come to belief until after the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:7; Acts 1:14). His brothers included James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas (i.e. Jude; cf. Matthew 13:55). James and Jude would later write the New Testament books that bear their names.

According to verses 3-4, Jesus’ brothers wanted him to go to Judea to display his signs and wonders more openly, but Jesus told them that it was not yet time for such displays. He went on to tell them that while it was not time for him to show himself to the world, their time had come and was always present.

What did Jesus mean by his statements to his brothers? They had seen Jesus. They knew him. They had grown up with him. They had witnessed some of his miracles. Jesus was telling them that they could believe in him. They had no need to wait. We too must make a decision on who Jesus is and today is the day. We should not think we will make a decision in the future. The question of Jesus’ true identity is too important to put off. 2 Corinthians 6:2 tells us, “Now is the day of salvation.” Will you believe in him? Will you tell others about him?

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From Death to Life

John 524 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 5:1–47 (ESV)

1 After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. 3 In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. 5 One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” 7 The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” 8 Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” 9 And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.

Now that day was the Sabbath. 10 So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.” 11 But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.’ ” 12 They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” 13 Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. 14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. 16 And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. 17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”

18 This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

19 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. 22 For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, 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. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

30 “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me. 31 If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not true. 32 There is another who bears witness about me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about me is true. 33 You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. 34 Not that the testimony that I receive is from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. 35 He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. 36 But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, 38 and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. 39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. 41 I do not receive glory from people. 42 But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. 44 How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? 45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”

Understanding and Applying the Word

Once again we read of Jesus’ confrontation with the religious leaders. This time, they were upset because Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath. When they confronted Jesus, his words were, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” This was blasphemous to the religious leaders. Jesus was claiming equality with God. This deserved death and they sought to kill him.

Jesus went even further. He explained how he and the Father were not opposed to each other, but together. Jesus had the authority to grant life to whomever he chose (verse 21). And it was Jesus who had the authority to judge all people (verse 22). So, if one wanted life rather than judgment, he needed to hear Jesus and believe what he was teaching (verse 24). Jesus’ miracles served as signs that he truly had the authority he spoke of.

Unfortunately, we read that many refused to turn to Jesus that they might have life (verse 40).  Many refused to believe him then and many refuse to believe him now. Jesus came into the world to save sinners by teaching us about God’s great love and grace and then by going to the cross to pay the penalty we all deserve. He has done everything he can to save us, yet many refuse to turn to Christ. May we find renewed wonder at what Christ has done for us, but also may we find a renewed zeal to share the gospel with those who are lost and to pray that their hearts may be open to the word of God.

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Belief in a World of Unbelief

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Reading the Word

John 4:43–54 (ESV)

43 After the two days he departed for Galilee. 44 (For Jesus himself had testified that a prophet has no honor in his own hometown.) 45 So when he came to Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, having seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the feast. For they too had gone to the feast.

46 So he came again to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine. And at Capernaum there was an official whose son was ill. 47 When this man heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went to him and asked him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. 48 So Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” 49 The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” 50 Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way. 51 As he was going down, his servants met him and told him that his son was recovering. 52 So he asked them the hour when he began to get better, and they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” 53 The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” And he himself believed, and all his household. 54 This was now the second sign that Jesus did when he had come from Judea to Galilee.

Parallel Texts: Matthew 4:17; Mark 1:14-15; Luke 4:14-15

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus returns to Cana where he had performed his first miracle, the turning of water to wine. While he is there an official goes to Jesus to ask him to heal his son who was very ill. The Greek word used here indicates that this man was a royal official, probably of Herod’s court. He had most likely heard about Jesus’ earlier miracle and went to see Jesus concerning his son. Jesus’ initial response seems harsh as he replies, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” The man asks Jesus to go to his son and Jesus tells him his son will live. The official believes Jesus and goes home to find his son healed.

Why did Jesus reply to the man so harshly at first? We must not overlook the beginning verses of this section for the answer. In verse 44, Jesus had testified that a prophet has no honor in his hometown. The people are welcoming him and accepting him, but only because of the miracles. They do not fully believe in him. So, when Jesus replies to the official he says, “Unless you see signs…” The “you” is in the second person plural. Jesus is not addressing the man in particular, but the mindset of all of the people. When Jesus tells the man his son would be healed, the text tells us that this official believed his words. When he receives report of his son being well, we are told that he believed and all of his household believed with him.

Here we find a reminder that even in the midst of great unbelief, there are those who will trust in Jesus. We may often feel like it is a hopeless thing to proclaim the gospel to an unbelieving world, but this is not true. God is still calling people to himself through the message of the gospel. Unbelievers are still turning in faith to Jesus Christ. Let us not lose heart, but let us continue to proclaim that Jesus has come to give life to all who will believe.

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They Had No Faith

1 John 54 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 106:24–31 (ESV)

24 Then they despised the pleasant land, having no faith in his promise. 25 They murmured in their tents, and did not obey the voice of the Lord. 26 Therefore he raised his hand and swore to them that he would make them fall in the wilderness, 27 and would make their offspring fall among the nations, scattering them among the lands. 28 Then they yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor, and ate sacrifices offered to the dead; 29 they provoked the Lord to anger with their deeds, and a plague broke out among them. 30 Then Phinehas stood up and intervened, and the plague was stayed. 31 And that was counted to him as righteousness from generation to generation forever.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Even after all God did to bring the people out of Egypt, the people had no faith in his promises to them. They saw the plagues and miraculous events that made it possible for them to leave, but they quickly forgot and murmured against God. The events in view in these verses are those of the spy expedition in Numbers 13-14 and Balaam’s actions in Numbers 25.

As a result of their unbelief, God did not allow the entire generation that came out of Egypt to enter the Promised Land. They wandered the desert for forty years until they had all died and all that was left were their descendants. The Bible uses many words to speak of our belief (e.g. trust and faith) in him and his word. We are told that when we believe that Jesus is the Savior that we need to save us from our sin and trust in his sacrifice, that we find forgiveness and eternal life through him. If we do not believe, our sin condemns us and we will not enter the promised new heaven and new earth. Believe God’s word and trust in Jesus Christ today!

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