A word for the heart

by Peter Solomon

John 8:31-59 - Are family and national ancestry important?

Bible study


Welcome to this Bible Study. I hope that you will enjoy this lesson and that it will be a blessing to you spiritually. Read what I have written slowly. If you have a Bible look up the reference verses given, and allow the Holy Spirit to minister to your soul through them.

verse 36

Look whom we are descended from.

We are all proud of our national and family heritage. It is very interesting to trace our ancestry and find out who our forefathers were and what they did. It gives me no end of pleasure to know that my forefathers were Jews and of the tribe of Benjamin, the same tribe that the apostle Paul belonged to.

Verses 31 & 32 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

Those who believe in Jesus would make it known that they believe in Him and secondly they would believe what He says. You cannot be a Christian without telling others that you are, and constantly reading the Bible, so that you can live according to the principles laid down in it.

Verse 33 They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can you say, ‘You will be made free’?”

The Jews who were listening to Jesus knew that Jesus was not referring to political bondage for they had been slaves in Egypt, Assyria, Babylon and now they were under Roman control. The Jews knew that Jesus was referring to their religious or spiritual lives. They thought that they were all right spiritually because they were descendants of Abraham. Having Christian parents does not make you a Christian, far from it.

Verses 34-36 Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. “And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

Jesus was not referring to political bondage but to spiritual bondage; let me explain. Anyone who continually sins, continually does wrong, and enjoys that wrongdoing is bound by that wayward lifestyle. Only Jesus can change our lives and free us from continually doing wrong, habitually sinning.

Verses 37 & 38 “I know that you are Abraham’s descendants, but you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. “I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have seen with your father.”

Jesus’ Jewish listeners were so intent on killing Him that they really did not listen to what He was saying to them. When we, like them, are enjoying our sinful lives we will not listen to what God is trying to say to us. Jesus then says to His listeners, My Father is God, the first person of the Trinity, who is your father, tell me?

Verse 39 They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.”
Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham.

The Jews were quick to reply that Abraham was their father both physically, because they were his descendants, and spiritually. They believed that they were not in spiritual bondage and therefore they did not need to be delivered from spiritual bondage.

Verses 40 & 41 “But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. “You do the deeds of your father.”
Then they said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father—God.”

If you were Abraham’s spiritual children then you would have Abraham’s spiritual characteristics: faith Romans 4:16, salvation for the Jews and the Gentiles Galatians 3:6-9, and trusting God Hebrews 11:8-19. Faith must result in obeying God and doing what God says James 2:21-24. Faith must result in a practical Godly lifestyle or it is not faith. To the Jews Jesus said your deeds show who your true father is.
The Jews were quick to reply. “God is our Father, we do not keep some of God’s commands and reject others like the Samaritans.” This remark was meant as a criticism of Jesus for breaking the Sabbath laws by healing on that day of the week.

Looking at the wrong family tree

We all place much emphasis on our national and family background when we should rather be looking at our spiritual heritage. I am not referring to ancestral worship as practised by some, but rather to following the example of those forefathers who believed in Jesus as their Saviour.

Verses 42 & 43 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. “Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My ?word.

Jesus makes it clear that He was sent by God, and if God were really their spiritual father then they would believe what He was saying, that God is not your spiritual Father ...

Verse 44 “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.

... for your spiritual father is the devil, Satan. Satan was the instigator of the first murder Genesis 4:8 for Satan was a murderer from the beginning 1 John 3:12.

Verses 45-47 “But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. “Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? “He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God.”

Jesus once again tells them that he is speaking the truth. The very fact that they wanted to kill Jesus, verse 40, shows that God was not their Father but rather that Satan was.

I have no ancestors!

Jesus now goes on to make the most astounding claim, that He had no ancestors. Joseph and Mary did not play any part in the conception of Jesus, for Jesus was given to Mary as a special gift from God, thus He had no human ancestors.

Verse 48 Then the Jews answered and said to Him, “Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?”

The Jews then say to Jesus that because of His attitude to religious observance, including the thousand or so man-made regulations made by the Pharisees, He was no better than the Samaritans. In fact Jesus must be demon-possessed, possessed by an evil spirit.

Verses 49-51 Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me. “And I do not seek My own glory; there is One who seeks and judges. “Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.”

Jesus replies, “I have not got a demon or evil spirit in me, because I am God.” An evil spirit and the Holy Spirit of God cannot exist or live in the same person. Then Jesus makes this statement, “If you listen to what I say you will never die.”

Verses 52 & 53 Then the Jews said to Him, “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. Who do You make Yourself out to be?”

Abraham died, Moses died, all men die. Saying that if you believe what I say, means that you, Jesus, are possessed by an evil spirit. “Who do you think you are anyway?”

Verses 54 & 55 Jesus answered, “If I honor Myself, My honor is nothing. It is My Father who honors Me, of whom you say that He is your God. “Yet you have not known Him, but I know Him. And if I say, ‘I do not know Him,’ I shall be a liar like you; but I do know Him and keep His word.

To think much of yourself means nothing, for what matters is what other people think of you. It is God who honours me because I know Him, but if you don’t know him, it is all a question of relationship.

Verse 56 “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.”

When Abraham was told by God to leave his hometown, Haran, and go to Palestine, God made it very clear to Abraham that all people, both Jews and Gentiles, would be blessed by him. Genesis 12:1-3 Abraham knew that this meant the coming of the Saviour, Jesus.

Verse 57 Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?”

The Jews replied, “You have not yet reached the normal retiring age of 50, the end of a man’s normal working life in those days, so how could you have been seen by Abraham who lived over 2,100 years ago.

Verse 58 Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”

In Exodus 3:14 God makes it clear to Moses that He wanted to be known by the Jews by the name “I AM.” Jesus then makes the most astounding statement ever made, “Before Abraham lived I, Jesus, was alive as God”. In other words as God Jesus had no human ancestry.

Verse 59 Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

Leviticus 24:16 makes it very clear that if anyone spoke irreverently about God, blasphemed, he should be stoned, and that is what they wanted to do to Jesus. From then on Jesus stopped arguing with the Pharisees, the Jews, concentrated on ministering to the people, and went out to heal a man born blind.

The big question in life is what do you think about Jesus? If Jesus is not your Saviour, your God, then you are not a Christian and you will certainly not go to heaven when you die.

Points for consideration

  1. What marks people out as Christians? (see comment on verse 32)
  2. Can anyone help us to stop sinning habitually? (see comment on verse 36)
  3. How do I know if I have faith in Jesus? (see comment on verse 41)
  4. What spirit is living within your life? (see comment on verse 51)
  5. ?How long has Jesus been alive? (see comment on verse 58)?

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In this article all Scripture references are taken from the Holy Bible, New King James Version, Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used with permission.

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