True freedom; true sonship

Jesus used an illustration from slavery to show the people how he could help them in their need. They all knew that slaves could not free themselves. The only person who could free them was the owner of the house in which the slave worked, or the owner’s son, acting on his father’s authority. The Jews were slaves, in bondage to sin and unable to free themselves. The only one who could free them was God, acting through his Son Jesus. They would find their true freedom through faith in Jesus and continual obedience to his teaching. Again the Jews did not understand the spiritual truth Jesus was illustrating.

Thinking only of ordinary earthly life, they argued that they had never been slaves of any nation. They had the freedom of sons, Abraham’s sons (John 8:31-36).

To explain further, Jesus told his Jewish hearers that spiritually they were not sons of Abraham at all, but sons of the devil. They were trying to kill Jesus, and murder was a characteristic inherited from their spiritual father the devil, not from their earthly father Abraham (John 8:37-40).

Beginning at last to see that Jesus was applying the illustration to their relationship with God, the Jews argued with him accordingly, but again they missed his meaning. They thought, perhaps, that he was accusing them of being like the Samaritans, who were of mixed blood and mixed religion. They assured him that they were pure sons of Abraham nationally and pure sons of God spiritually (John 8:41). Jesus responded that if God was their Father they would welcome his Son as their Messiah, not try to kill him. They would believe his teaching, not dispute it. Truly, their father was not God, but the devil (John 8:42- 47).

The Jews gave further proof that God was not their Father when they insulted his Son and so guaranteed God’s judgment upon them. The Son is not concerned with gaining honour for himself. His chief concerns are to give honour to the Father on the one hand, and life to believers on the other (John 8:48-51). The Jews objected that Jesus was boasting to be greater than Abraham. Jesus replied that he was not boasting but merely telling the truth: he was united with God (John 8:52-55).

As for Abraham, he himself acknowledged Jesus to be greater by rejoicing when he foresaw the coming of the Messiah. The Jews objected that Jesus could not know Abraham’s thoughts, because Abraham had died hundreds of years before Jesus was born. They were angered more when Jesus said that he existed even before Abraham. Jesus is the eternal God. The Jews considered such a claim to be blasphemy and immediately but unsuccessfully tried to kill him (John 8:56-59).

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