31Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you keep obeying my teachings. 32And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
33“But we are descendants of Abraham,” they said. “We have never been slaves to anyone on earth. What do you mean, ‘set free’?”
34Jesus replied, “I assure you that everyone who sins is a slave of sin. 35A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. 36So if the Son sets you free, you will indeed be free. 37Yes, I realize that you are descendants of Abraham. And yet some of you are trying to kill me because my message does not find a place in your hearts.38I am telling you what I saw when I was with my Father. But you are following the advice of your father.”
39“Our father is Abraham,” they declared.
“No,” Jesus replied, “for if you were children of Abraham, you would follow his good example. 40I told you the truth I heard from God, but you are trying to kill me. Abraham wouldn’t do a thing like that. 41No, you are obeying your real father when you act that way.”
They replied, “We were not born out of wedlock! Our true Father is God himself.”
42Jesus told them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, because I have come to you from God. I am not here on my own, but he sent me. 43Why can’t you understand what I am saying? It is because you are unable to do so! 44For you are the children of your father the Devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning and has always hated the truth. There is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45So when I tell the truth, you just naturally don’t believe me! 46Which of you can truthfully accuse me of sin? And since I am telling you the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47Anyone whose Father is God listens gladly to the words of God. Since you don’t, it proves you aren’t God’s children.”
48The people retorted, “You Samaritan devil! Didn’t we say all along that you were possessed by a demon?”
49“No,” Jesus said, “I have no demon in me. For I honor my Father—and you dishonor me. 50And though I have no wish to glorify myself, God wants to glorify me. Let him be the judge. 51I assure you, anyone who obeys my teaching will never die!”
52The people said, “Now we know you are possessed by a demon. Even Abraham and the prophets died, but you say that those who obey your teaching will never die! 53Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? Are you greater than the prophets, who died? Who do you think you are?”
54Jesus answered, “If I am merely boasting about myself, it doesn’t count. But it is my Father who says these glorious things about me. You say, ‘He is our God,’ 55but you do not even know him. I know him. If I said otherwise, I would be as great a liar as you! But it is true—I know him and obey him.56Your ancestor Abraham rejoiced as he looked forward to my coming. He saw it and was glad.”
57The people said, “You aren’t even fifty years old. How can you say you have seen Abraham?”
58Jesus answered, “The truth is, I existed before Abraham was even born!” 59At that point they picked up stones to kill him. But Jesus hid himself from them and left the Temple.
(John 8:31-59, NLT)
The Daily DAVEotional
In 2004, after two consecutive outings in which the rival Yankees had roughed up Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez, the future Hall of Famer quipped,
“What can I say? I just tip my hat and call the Yankees my daddy.”
From that moment on, whenever Martinez took the mound against the Bronx Bombers, the fans would chant, “who’s your daddy?” as a means of heckling the oft-dominant hurler.
The phrase, “who’s your daddy?” has come to be associated with dominance over an opponent and is often expressed as a way to mock or ridicule.
In John chapter 8, Jesus doesn’t use the phrase, “who’s your daddy?” with His audience, but He does bring to the attention of His listeners that they are under the ownership and influence of either one of two possible “father” figures.
As was often the case with Jesus, many of those who followed Him never really believed He was God’s Son. Despite the many miracles Jesus performed, His sinless lifestyle and His authoritative teaching, there were many skeptics who were simply looking for a reason to prove that Jesus was the religious charlatan they always had believed Him to be.
This group of people had already made up their minds about Jesus and nothing that Jesus could say or do was going to change their view of Him.
In this chapter, Jesus has another such encounter with the crowds, in which Jesus states that those who truly want to be His disciples will obey His teachings and “the truth will set you free.”
Some in the audience take issue with Jesus’ verbiage, claiming that they have never been slaves and therefore have no need to be set free and also appealing to Abraham as their father.
Jesus’ spiritual message is obviously lost on these folks but Jesus uses this opportunity to explain to his challengers who their true father really is.
According to Jesus, those for whom God is their father are characterized by this one quality – an openness for truth. Those who oppose truth cannot be from God and God cannot be said to be their father because God is a god of truth.
Jesus then explains to his critics that even though they technically are descendants of Abraham, they don’t follow his example, because if they did, they would not be seeking to kill Him simply for telling the truth.
When His enemies continue to resist and argue, Jesus brings the hammer down, telling them that the reason they can’t understand what He’s saying is because they are unable to do so, “For you are the children of your father the Devil, and you love to do the evil things he does.”
This exchange between Jesus and His adversaries underscores a critical question – what happens when a person is confronted with truth that contradicts their current understanding?
For those who claim to be followers of God, Jesus says that they will be open to the truth that confronts them, recognizing that all truth is God’s truth because God is a god of truth.
Those who resist God may employ any number of strategies and tactics to hold on to their preferred narrative. One such tactic is to employ confirmation bias, which is to take in only information and facts that support your preferred narrative while discarding anything that would challenge it. I wrote about a biblical example of confirmation bias here.
Another tactic is to place oneself in an echo chamber, which is the scenario in which a person surrounds themselves only with people who agree with you and who don’t challenge your thinking, even when you’re wrong. I wrote about an Old Testament Echo Chamber here in my previous post.
Jesus doesn’t pull any punches. He states clearly that those who reject the truth that is right in front of them are not God followers. Instead, their father is the devil, who is the father of lies. The reason people reject God and resist truth that plainly points to God is because they are under the influence and authority of Satan, who owns them and is thus, their father!
So, who owns you? Is it God or is it Satan?
Or to put it in today’s vernacular, “Who’s your daddy?”
What are some examples from your own life where you or someone you know has rejected plain truth in order to preserve their own personal viewpoint?
None of us really like to be wrong. So the idea that we might resist new information that would challenge our thinking is not reserved for just some people but is a struggle that any of us can have. What are your typical responses when one of your views is challenged?
How do you handle personal feedback and criticism? What factors make it harder to digest? What circumstances might make it easier to handle?
What steps can you take to ensure that you are one of Jesus’ disciples who obeys Him and is open to truth instead of being one who claims to follow Him but is actually resistant to truth?
Photo from TheLowedown Collection on Topps Bunt21 (a digital card collecting app available in the App Store or Google Play store)