Why do you not understand what I am saying?
John 8:31-59 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” 33 They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never yet 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 commits sin is the slave of sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. 36 So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are Abraham’s descendants; yet you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. 38 I speak the things which I have seen with My Father; therefore you also do the things which you heard from your father.”
39 They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you are Abraham’s children, do the deeds of Abraham. 40 But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do. 41 You are doing the deeds of your father.” They said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father: God.” 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me. 43 Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me. 46 Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me? 47 He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.”
48 The Jews answered and said to Him, “Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?” 49 Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me. 50 But I do not seek My glory; there is One who seeks and judges. 51 Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he will never see death.” 52 The Jews said to Him, “Now we know that You have a demon. Abraham died, and the prophets also; and You say, ‘If anyone keeps My word, he will never taste of death.’ 53 Surely You are not greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets died too; whom do You make Yourself out to be?” 54 Jesus answered, “If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God’; 55 and you have not come to know Him, but I know Him; and if I say that I do not know Him, I will be a liar like you, but I do know Him and keep His word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” 57 So the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.” 59 Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple.
1 Corinthians 2:12-14 says: Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. Today’s text is an illustration of this spiritual principle. The very first line says: So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him. This entire interchange and dialogue, in today’s text, is between Jesus and those who believed Him, not those who rejected Him. What was it then that they believed, since they did not receive or comprehend what Jesus was saying to them? They had seen and heard of miraculous works, healings and deliverance, the miracle of the feeding of 5000 with 5 loaves. So they believed, based on what they saw, that Jesus was different, a prophet, a teacher, perhaps even the Messiah. Their concept of who and what Messiah would be was also though based in the natural realm. Because they believed for a Messiah that would come from the line of David, to reestablish the throne and the rule of David, they sought and comprehended the natural, not the spiritual.
Jesus says: “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” The Jews of Jesus time, although they were under Roman rule, were not actually in bondage, slaves as their ancestors had been in Egypt, so they could not comprehend what freedom they needed. For many today this same concept, freedom through faith in Christ, is difficult to comprehend. In our culture and society we experience tremendous freedoms. Even in relation to God, He has given us a free will. An ability to choose what we do and what we believe. Many today view religion as bondage rather than freedom. Jesus says: “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.” Even unbelievers, if they are honest, would have to acknowledge the way temptation and sin work in our lives. James 1:13-15 says: Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. We all face temptations. What tempts one person may have no attraction at all to another. But each of us has selfish lust in some area and the more we give in to our desire the more we become enslaved to our sin. As an example, most people are not attracted, have no desire to use heroin, but to those who have given in, it surely has become bondage, a bondage which will lead to death if it remains unbroken. In a spiritual sense, those who become addicted to pornography and immorality, also become enslaved, continually deeper in bondage to their lust. The same is true of those who over eat etc. But sin and bondage to our own lust and desires are not limited to physical things. We can also become more judgmental as we give in to the temptation to judge. We become slaves of anger and rage as we give in to it. Regardless of what we are tempted by, what our own lust is, it is easier to stop at zero than one. That’s why Jesus says: “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” Like those in today’s text, many will deny they are in bondage, rather than choosing obedience to Christ.
The text continues: Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me… Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he will never see death.” The Jews said to Him, “Now we know that You have a demon. Abraham died, and the prophets also; and You say, ‘If anyone keeps My word, he will never taste of death.’ Surely You are not greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets died too; whom do You make Yourself out to be?” They could not see or comprehend beyond the physical, natural realm. Many today also see and comprehend only with natural, human understanding. In many ways religion and atheism have that in common. They seek to understand, describe and define everything according to human wisdom, by what they see and know. Faith in Christ is different. It requires that we believe in what we can’t see or comprehend. Faith does not limit God to what we know. He would not be much of a God if He were only equal to us. In Romans 1:20, Paul says it well: For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. Faith attributes what it cannot explain to God, who is bigger and beyond us. When human wisdom cannot explain something it makes up an explanation, which they call a theory. In truth believing the theories of man, because there is no real evidence, requires much more faith than believing in God and a Messiah who came to set us free. The truth is we will all die a physical death, the religious, the atheist and even those with faith in Christ.
John 3:16 says: “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 10:10 says: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” Both here in this life and for eternity, we are free to choose. Will we believe only what we see and live in bondage to our own limitations and our own lust or will we choose to believe and be obedient to Christ, choosing abundant life now and eternal life forever?
Thank You heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ and precious Holy Spirit for giving me freedom and spiritual understanding to believe and receive all that You are and all that You have for me. Amen.