Who Is Your Father?—John 8:37-50

20150621FBCAM [Father’s Day]

Levi Durfey




I have been a father for almost fifteen years now. One of the thoughts that crosses my mind frequently is: in what ways will my children emulate me? You can tell that they already have my good looks. 


Actually, my concerns run deeper than my looks. When I sin, and they see it, will they imitate that sin? On the other hand, will they imitate the good that I do, the love that I show, the trust that I have in Christ? 


Human fathers have that struggle because weʼre not perfect. We sin, and we do good. Our children will, more than likely, copy some of both from us.


In this passage, there are two fathers mentioned (well, three, if you count Abraham, but two fathers of importance). One father, the Devil, is completely evil, a liar, a murderer. The other Father, God himself, is holy, loving, and good.


Which father do you most often copy? Which father does the saying, “Like Father, Like Son [or Daughter],” most apply for you?




John 8:37 I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you. 

John 8:38 I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father. 


The Jews Fell Short Of Father Abraham


In the first part of chapter 8, the Jews who were debating with Jesus made the claim that they were Abrahamʼs seed. That is, they were saying what any Jew would say, that Abraham was the father of the Jewish race. 


Jesus doesnʼt deny it; he says to them, “Yes, you are Abrahamʼs seed…so why are you trying to kill me? I will tell you why. You and I have different fathers.” He does what he has seen with his father, and they do what they have seen with their father. Jesus copies his Father; they copy their father.


Shortly Jesus will reveal their true father, but now he is pointing out that while they may be physical descendants of Abraham, heʼs certainly not their father in a spiritual sense…they fall short of Abraham. 


But they insist, “Abraham is our father.” So Jesus explains why he doesnʼt think that itʼs true that Abraham is their father. 


John 8:39 They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham. 

John 8:40 But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham.


Remember the famous line from the 1988 presidential campaign? Lloyd Bentson said to Dan Quayle, “Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy: I knew Jack Kennedy; Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, youʼre no Jack Kennedy.” 


Jesus was saying, “You are no Abraham.”


It must have been a shock and an offense to be disconnected from Abraham like that. It would be like telling you that you were not a real American.


We Also Fall Short


But, we do need to stop and evaluate ourselves from time to time. Maybe a good question in those times of examination would be, “How are we not like Jesus?” After all, Christians are supposed to becoming more and more like Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:18), but weʼre not there yet. 


So where do we fall short? When we know where we are failing to be like Jesus, we can pray and work with God to see change in that area. The biggest hindrance to us doing this of course is pride. 


You have to be humble to see the faults in yourself. Otherwise, your pride will tell you that you are doing well enough. Your pride will compare yourself to other people and say, “Well, I am not as bad as so and so.” The comparison is supposed to be made with Jesus!


Lord, bend that proud and stiffnecked I,

Help me to bow the head and die; 

Beholding Him on Calvary,

Who bowed His head for me.

— Bill Butler




If Abraham wasn’t their father, who was? Jesus’ answer is blunt and offensive:


John 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.


These Jews had denied that he was the Messiah sent from God. Where did they get the idea that he was not their Messiah? From the one being that doesnʼt want anyone to know that Jesus is the Savior—Satan, the Devil.


The Devil is a liar, and in fact, is the father of all lies. He is a murderer and has been from even before the day he seduced Eve into disobeying God. 


God had allowed Adam and Eve to eat from any tree in the Garden of Eden, except for one tree. To eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil would mean death. Eve explains this to Satan and he responds:


4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. (Genesis 3:4–5)


That single lie has murdered billions of people by dooming them to physical and spiritual death on the account of sin.


Why does Satan lie? Because he hates God. Back in the days of Job, Satan came before God. The Lord asked him if he had noticed Job, a man who loved the Lord. Satan knew of him, but contended that the only reason Job loved the Lord was because the Lord had placed a hedge around him and protected him. 


In Satanʼs hatred of God, he killed Jobʼs children, destroyed his wealth, and afflicted his body. In Satanʼs hatred of God, he hates us. In his hatred of us, he will lie constantly to keep us away from God.


What are Satanʼs lies? His lies are just the same today as they were to Eve in the garden, only with modern spelling and punctuation. Someone wrote:


There are two big lies that Satan has been perpetrating ever since the Garden of Eden. The first is that God is mean, vindictive, a spoilsport whose main role in life is to keep us from being fulfilled and happy—when we step out of bounds, he takes delight in making us pay.


The second lie is that God really doesn’t care what we do—probably doesn’t know. And if he does, his business is to forgive us. He’ll always forgive no matter what, so it really doesn’t make much difference how we live and what we believe. (B. Clayton Bell, “Many Happy Returns,” Preaching Today, Tape No. 135)


Satanʼs lies to us are always designed to draw us away from God, who loves us and cares for us. He tells us that God doesnʼt care, or limits us too much. 


Hereʼs a lie you hear if you are considering some sort of sexual immorality: “If you love each other, then a loving God would want you to be together.”


In the case of the Jews here, they had heard Satanʼs lies. Perhaps one of them was, “You are really good and righteous people who keep the law well, you donʼt need this Jesus as your Messiah.” They bought it and believed it, and now they were telling the lies themselves. They had as their father, not the God of truth, but the lying Devil.




The Jews Blasted Jesus With Hateful Attacks


John 8:40 But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham.


Well, the Jews were not going to take the comment that Abraham was not their real father lying down. They responded, but their response proved that Jesus was right, and it also revealed who their real father was.


John 8:41 Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God. 


Why did they say “we be not born of fornication?” Remember how Jesus was born? His mother Mary conceived by the Holy Spirit. Joseph, her betrothed, was going to quietly divorce her—why? Because of the gossip and the talk that was already starting. 


In hushed tones, the gossips of Nazareth whispered the obvious question: “How did Mary get pregnant? Did she and Joseph jump the gun?” “No, no, it’s much worse,” comes another speculation, “She is carrying a Roman soldier’s baby!” 


If Mary had told them that about what the angel had told her, no one would believe her. So one of the false stories that circulated about Jesusʼ birth was that Mary had an affair with someone else, possibly a Roman soldier, and Joseph, out of kindness, married her anyway. 


The Jews here are saying, “You are talking about our father — weʼre werenʼt born out of fornication—unlike you! We know who our father is!” 


I’ve noticed that when some people get angry, they grasp at anything to try and make their opponent look worse than they do. Itʼs classic political mud-slinging at itʼs worst. Itʼs from the Devil.


But the Jews werenʼt finished. They had more insults to hurl at Jesus.


John 8:48 Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? 


The Jews probably hated the Samaritans more than they hated the Romans, so calling Jesus a Samaritan (for which there was absolutely no evidence) was supposed to be an insult of the highest proportion. 


The only higher insult would be to say that Jesus was demon-possessed. Which, just for good measure, they did! Jesus calmly responded by saying that he was not demon-possessed. He was not doing anything for his own glory, but only to glorify his Father.


John 8:49 Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me. 

John 8:50 And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth.


I think the difference between Jesus and these Jews is how calm Jesus is, and how he consistently speaks the truth to them, but the Jews can only come up with personal attacks about his birth, his ethic background, etc.


Confront Others With Truth And Love


And you know, thatʼs a lesson for us today. When we have to confront someone about a problem, personal attacks (especially those based on rumors and gossip) only prove that we are listening to Satanʼs lies. Jesus said hard things to people, but only if they were grounded in the truth. 


For example, I believe that homosexuality is a sin. Itʼs clearly shown as such in the Bible (e.g., Romans 1:26,27). But I have little tolerance for Christians who call homosexuals insulting names. 


What are they doing? Are they trying to make sure that the homosexuals will never want to come to know Jesus? Christians who do that have bought into the Devilʼs program—he wants unbelievers to see Christians as unloving so that they will never want to believe! 


Make your confrontations grounded in truth and soaked in love, and you will not fall in the Devilʼs trap.




Jesus told the Jews that God was not their father, but Satan was. He gave three tests, all of which they failed, to show who their true father was.


1. The Love Test


John 8:42 Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. 


These were a very religious people, but their hearts weren’t really devoted to God. Listen, just because someone is religious, doesnʼt mean that they have a relationship with the Lord. They may claim to have God as their father, but their actions prove otherwise. 


Here Jesus says that the first test of a person’s love for God is if they love his Son, Jesus. Can you honestly say that you love Jesus Christ as the Bible describes him?


2. The Listening Test


John 8:43 Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.


John 8:45 And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. 

John 8:46 Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? 

John 8:47 He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.


Have you ever tried to convince someone of something, but it felt like you were hitting a brick wall? Did you explain your position clearly, only to find that they didn’t consider one bit of what you said?


The Jews had no intention of really listening to Jesus. Why? Because they had hard hearts. In Matthew 13, Jesus explained that there were four ways that people respond to God’s Word: 


3 And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; 4 And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: 


5 Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: 6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 


7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: 


8 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. 9 Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. (Matthew 13:3–9)


They would not listen to God’s word spoken to them by Jesus. They already had their minds made up about Jesus. The soil of their hearts was rock hard.


Do you listen to God’s Word? I don’t mean, do you hear it or read it, but do you really listen to it? Does the Word of God penetrate your hearts? Does it affect you? Does it cause changes to happen in your life? If it doesn’t, it may be an indication that your father isn’t God.


3. The Obedience Test


Finally, Jesus points to who do they follow, who do they obey?


John 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do


An unbeliever will not desire to obey God; they will desire to do the will of the Devil. I don’t mean that they will consciously desire to serve Satan—very few people do that. But they serve themselves, and that is the style of Satan.


A few years ago, when my mom, my two sisters, and I were together, one of the little kids did something cute and all three of them pulled out their cameras. I chuckled and made a semi-sarcastic comment about cameras. 


One of my sisters looked at me and, with a look of surprise, said, “He sounded just like Dad.” Since then, I’ve noticed that there are times that, in my tone of voice and the kind of remark, that I will sound just like Dad.


People don’t consciously follow Satan, but he is the first and greatest sinner, so people in their sin follow Satan’s lead. They are a chip off the ol’ block. 


Which father do you obey? Which father do you follow in likeness? God the Father or the Devil? Remember, to follow and love the God the Father means that you need to love and trust his Son, Jesus Christ. Is the Lord Jesus your Savior?

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