John 10:22-30, “Missing the Obvious: Jesus is the Christ”

Christ the Saviour (Pantokrator), a 6th-centur...
Christ the Saviour (Pantokrator), a 6th-century encaustic icon from Saint Catherine’s Monastery, Mount Sinai. NB – slightly cut down – for full size see here (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is a story about the detective Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Mr. Watson. Watson is highly intelligent, but he always misses the obvious.

So Holmes and Watson are on a camping trip. In the middle of the night Holmes wakes up and gives Dr. Watson a nudge. “Watson” he says, “look up in the sky and tell me what you see.”

“I see millions of stars, Holmes,” says Watson.
“And what do you conclude from that, Watson?”

Watson thinks for a moment. “Well,” he says, “astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, I observe that Saturn is in Leo. Horologically, I deduce that the time is approximately a quarter past three. Meteorologically, I suspect that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. Theologically, I see that God is all-powerful, and we are small and insignificant. Uh, what does it tell you, Holmes?

“Watson, you idiot! Someone has stolen our tent!”

Sometimes we miss the obvious! What does that have to do with the gospel


In John 10, the people had somehow missed the obvious. In John 10:24-25, we read,

John 10:24-25 NLT The people surrounded him and asked, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”‘ Jesus replied, “I have already told you, and you don’t believe me. The proof is the work I do in my Father’s name.

How is it that people can miss the obvious? On every page of this Gospel, John is telling us who Jesus is. In the Prologue, the first 18 verses of the Gospel of John, we read that Jesus is God in the flesh:

John 1:13 ESV In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word

was God.’ He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

John 1:14 ESV And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:18 ESV No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

In the first chapter alone, Jesus is introduced as

  • God (1:1, 18)
  • Lamb of God (1:29)
  • Son of God (1:34)
  • Messiah (1:41)
  • King of Israel (1:49)
  • Son of Man (1:51)

In chapter 2, he performed his first sign pointing to his deity by changing the water into wine.

In chapter 3, we read that he is the unique Son of God that the Father sent into the world that the world through him could be saved from the wrath of God (3:16-17, 36).

In chapter 4, he is the living water, and the Savior of the world (4:42).

In chapter 5, Jesus heals a man who has been lame for 38 years. Jesus claims the prerogatives of God, the right to do the works of God on the Sabbath, the right to be honored as God. In fact, John tells us that when Jesus called God “my Father”, he was making himself equal with God (5:18). Jesus does this 21 times in John’s gospel (5:17; 6:32, 40; 8:19, 38, 49, 54; 10:18, 29, 37; 14:7, 20-21, 23; 15:1, 8, 15, 23-24; 20:17) besides 77 more times when he refers to “the Father.”

In chapter 6, Jesus multiplies five loaves of bread and two fish and fed 5,000 men plus women and children. He then claims to be the true source of life, the bread of life.

In chapter 7, Jesus promises to give the Spirit of God to those who were thirsty (7:37-39).

In chapter 8, he invokes the name of God and claims to have existed before Abraham (8:58).

In chapter 9, Jesus claims to be the light of the world and opened the eyes of a man born blind. He says that the Pharisees were blind because they refused to follow the example of the blind man who worshipped him.

Now in chapter 10, Jesus claims that he is the door to salvation; no one enters except by him (10:9). He also says that he is the Good Shepherd. He has the authority not only to die, but also to take up his life again. My father died earlier this year. He had no control over the time of his death, and he certainly was not able to take up his life again. Jesus did what no mortal man could do.

On every page, John is showing us who Jesus is. He will tell us in 20:30-31 that Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that were not written in this book, but these were written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing, you may have life through his name.

It is rather obvious, isn’t it, that Jesus is the Christ? So we are surprised that the Jews would say to Jesus,

John 10:24-25 ESV “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me.

  1.1.  The Meaning of Christ

The word “Christ” is the same as the word “Messiah.” “Christ” is the Greek word for “Messiah” which is in Hebrew. Both words mean “Anointed.” There were three classes of people who were anointed with a special oil: prophets, priests, and kings. This anointing would symbolize the blessing of the Holy Spirit on these three classes of leaders.

But God had also promised a very special Anointed One who would embrace all three categories. He would be The Anointed One par excellence. The Spirit of God would be upon him as the Prophet who would speak for God (cf. Deuteronomy 18:15). He would also anointed as The Great High Priest who ever lives to make intercession for us (Hebrew 7:24­28). He would also be anointed as the King of Israel (in. 1:49; 6:15; 12:13, 15; 18:33, 37, 39; 19:3, 12, 14-15, 19, 21) and will return to this earth as King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev. 17:14; 19:16).

The Jews ask Jesus to tell them plainly if he is that very special Anointed One, the Messiah, the Christ.

Now it is interesting that in John’s Gospel, Jesus does not go around telling people that he is the Christ. He makes more claims to being God than to telling the Jews that he is the Christ. This is the big question that the Jews are continually asking: Is he or is he not the Christ?

John tells us that Jesus is the Christ both in his introduction (1:17) and in his statement of purpose (20:30-31). The disciples of Jesus believe that he is the Christ. Andrew told Peter that they had found the Christ (1:41).

John 11:27 ESV She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

Jesus told the Samaritan woman that he was the Christ (4:25-26), and in his prayer to his Father in 17:3, Jesus refers to himself as “Jesus Christ.” But in John’s Gospel, Jesus never tells the Jews that he is the Christ.

John 10:24 ESV So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”

  1.2.  Adjusting Their Theology

It should have been obvious to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ, but why didn’t Jesus simply answer their question? Why didn’t he just say, “Of course I am!”?

As a matter of fact, he did affirm to his disciples that he was the Christ. On one occasion, Jesus asked who people thought he was. A lot of different ideas were thrown around, but the more important question had to do with the disciples. They were to carry on his work. Who did they think he was?

“You are the Christ,” Peter said, “the Son of the living God.”

Jesus tells Peter that he was spot on: “You are blessed, Simon Bar-Jonah, because this did not come from human reasoning. My Father in heaven revealed this to you” (Matthew 16:16-17).

So why didn’t Jesus simply tell the Jews that he was the Christ? Because the Jews were confused about what the Christ was going to do. Even Peter was confused. As soon as Jesus began to tell Peter and the disciples that as the Christ he would suffer and die, Peter said that that would never happen. Just like Muslims today deny that Jesus died. Peter said that it would never happen because he was confused about what Jesus the Christ had come to do.

The Jews were confused because Jesus was not lining up with their expectations. The problem was not Jesus; the problem was they thought that the Christ was going to overthrow the Roman government. That is not why Jesus came.

1.3.     Hanukkah, the Festival of Dedication

John gives us a clue in verse 22. The New Living Translation tells us,

John 10:22 NLT It was now winter, and Jesus was in Jerusalem at the time of Hanukkah, the Festival of Dedication.

Hanukkah, the Festival of Dedication, is never mentioned in the Old Testament. Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament, was written about 400 years before Christ. At that time, the Jews were under the rule of the mighty Persian Empire. But then a young Greek named Alexander decided to conquer the world. Alexander the Great extended the Greek Empire all the way to the Indus valley by about 330 B.C. When he died, his empire was divided among four generals and the land of Israel eventually came under the rule of Antiochus Epiphanes, the king of Syria.

Antiochus set out to make Greek or Hellenistic culture the unifying bond of his empire. He imposed heathen religion on the Jews. He forbade them to circumcise their children, to observe the Sabbath, and many other Jewish practices. He set up a heathen altar in the Jewish temple that had been rebuilt. A lot of Jews went along with Antiochus. They wanted to be cool. Others followed Antiochus out of fear. It was a terrible time in the history of Israel.

But there were some courageous Jews who would not bend their knee to Antiochus. This led to the Maccabean revolt. Jewish warriors liberated Jerusalem and the heathen altar was removed. The temple was rededicated and the Jews celebrated the event every year at the Festival of the Dedication.

Here Jesus was speaking to the Jews during the Festival of Dedication. The Jews were now under the Romans. They wanted to be delivered. They expected the Christ to be like the Maccabees. They expected the Christ to overthrow the Romans. Jesus did mighty things that no ordinary man could do. But it did not appear that overthrowing the Romans was on his agenda.

John 10:24 ESV So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”

1.4.  What Kind of a Messiah Is This?

Jesus had spoken in verse 16 about followers from outside the fold of Judaism. He had also said that some of his Jewish hearers might die in their sins (8:21, 24).

Does this mean that being the Christ means putting no different between Jew and Gentile when we stand before God? That some Gentiles must be brought into the fold? That some Jews will die in their sins, and therefore be excluded? What sort of Messiah is this? Most Jews of the day did not think that the Messiah would treat the Gentiles with favor and judge the Jews in this way. They usually saw the Messiah as a Jewish deliverer of some sort.[1]

People turn away from Christ today because he isn’t what they are looking for, or because they were expecting something else. They have their own agenda and Jesus doesn’t seem to be following their agenda. They want to be rich. They want easy success. That’s the kind of Christ they want: one that will promise them wealth and success. And there are a lot of preachers who preach that kind of a message. But Jesus never said, “If anyone will come after me, I will make him healthy and wealthy.” He said,

Luke 9:23 ESV “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

  1.5.  Show and Tell

Sometimes schoolteachers have a “show and tell” day. Children come and show something from home — for example, a toy, a game, a pet — and the tell the class about it.

Jesus tells the Jews that he has both told them and shown them:

John 10:25 NLT Jesus replied, “I have already told you, and you don’t believe me. The proof is the work I do in my Father’s name.

All the teaching that Jesus had done about himself, who he is, and his mission—they should have understood. They had recognized when Jesus called God his own Father, that he was making himself equal with God (5:18). When he said, “Before Abraham was, I AM” (8:58), they picked up stones to stone him. “They had heard enough and understood enough to have an answer to their question if they really and sincerely wanted one.”[2]

He had told them.

He had also shown them:

“The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me” (10:25).

He had done works that no mere man could have done.


  2.1.  They Were Not Listening

They did not believe because they were not listening:

John 10:25-27 NLT Jesus replied, “I have already told you, and you don’t believe me. The proof is the work I do in my Father’s name. 26 ***But you don’t believe me because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

The shepherd speaks. The sheep listen. But the Jews were still asking questions because they were not listening:

Romans 10:17 ESV So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

It is too easy to pretend that we are listening when we are simply trying to think of a reason not to believe. You can hear and not listen.

Jesus emphasizes the word “you”: “But you don’t believe me…” (v. 26). They had not believed though many had. The Gospel of John records many examples of people who had come to faith in Christ. For example:

  • His disciples believed on him (2:11).
  • The Samaritans believed on him (4:42).
  • The official at Capernaum believed when Jesus told him that his son would live (4:50).
  • The blind man saw Jesus and believed and worshipped him (9:38).

2.2.    They Were Not His Sheep

John 10:26 ESV but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep.

The sheep who belong to a particular shepherd hear his voice and respond to it, but those who belong to another shepherd do not. These Jews were showing quite plainly by their attitude and their questions that they do not belong to the flock of which Jesus was the Good Shepherd, the Messiah. Of course they could not recognize him as their Messiah when they followed all sorts of other shepherds.[3]

Jesus gives the characteristics of his sheep:

  • My sheep hear my voice.
  • They follow me.

This is the habitual trait of true sheep. They hear the voice of the Good Shepherd. They follow the Good Shepherd. This is not a one-time decision. This is not repeating the so-called sinner’s prayer. This is daily following the voice of the Good Shepherd, walking in his paths, following where he leads.

Leon Morris comments on the sheep hearing the voice of the Good Shepherd:

…those who are Christ’s hear his voice in all the circumstances of life.., those who are not his do not. For them life is simply a succession of haphazard happenings with no meaning and no pattern. For Christ’s sheep there is always the thought of the Good Shepherd, who gave his life for them and who constantly leads them into the places where they should go. His voice gives meaning to all of life.[4]

Not only do sheep hear the voice of the shepherd. They follow.

When that shepherd calls his sheep there are results. The sheep know his call and follow the shepherd when they hear it. This has it equivalent with people who hear Jesus’ call. If they really are his sheep, they will certainly respond and will follow him as the disciples had done.[5]


While the sheep hear the voice of the Good Shepherd and follow him, the Good Shepherd shows himself to be the Good Shepherd:

  1. The Good Shepherd knows his sheep (v. 27). Jesus is going to talk about the security the sheep. So rather than putting the emphasis on the sheep knowing their shepherd, Jesus stresses the fact that He knows His sheep.
  2. The Good Shepherd gives his sheep eternal life:

John 10:28 ESV I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.

Jesus is not only talking about a life that never ends; he is talking about a quality of life as he said in verse 10:

John 10:10 ESV I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. Yet, this abundant life is a life that has no end: “they will never perish.”

The German scholar A. Oepke says that this verb means “definitive destruction, not merely in the sense of the extinction of physical existence, but rather of an eternal plunge into Hades and a hopeless destiny of death in the depiction of which such terms as wrath, anger, affliction and distress are used.” We should be clear that perishing is a terrible fate and to be delivered from it is a priceless gift.[6]

On this verse, Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (the Little Kittel) says, “In view is not just physical destruction but a hopeless destiny of eternal death.”[7]

  1. The Good Shepherd has a firm hold: “no one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:28 ESV).

The word snatch refers to a violent action. But Jesus says that no matter how strong the force is against us, no outside force can remove us from the hand of the Good Shepherd. We are safe in the hands of Jesus.

Yet, we need to take all this passage together. The verbs indicate continuous action. The sheep continue to listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd. The sheep continue to follow the Good Shepherd. John has already told us that Jesus did not trust himself to everyone who believed in his name (John 2:23-25). The Good Shepherd is looking for faithful sheep.


Jesus has made two parallel statements:

John 10:28 ESV …no one will snatch them out of my hand.

John 10:29 ESV …no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

Who is holding us, the Father or the Son? Both. No one will snatch us out of the Good Shepherd’s hand. And no one can snatch us out of the Father’s hand. The second statement puts the emphasis on the power of the Almighty Father. No one is strong enough to snatch us out of his hand. We are safe in the hands of the Lord.

Now Jesus says, “I and the Father are one.” It is not surprising that the Good Shepherd would say that he is one with the Father. After all, in Psalm 23, David said, “The LORD is my shepherd.” Now Jesus tells us that he is the Good Shepherd. He is the LORD.

Yet, the oneness refers to a deep basic unity, but he is not saying that he and the Father are identical. After all, the Father sent him into the world, and Jesus says that he will return to the Father. There are innumerable transactions between the Father and the Son which indicate that they are not the same person. C. K. Barrett says, “…the oneness of the Father and Son is a oneness of love and obedience even while it is a oneness of essence.”[8]

Again, Jesus is claiming to be one with the Father. He will tell Thomas, “If you had known me, you would have known my Father also” (John 14:7). He will tell Philip in 14:9, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”


Everything points to the same conclusion. It should have been apparent to Watson as he stared at the starry sky, that someone had stolen their tent. It should be obvious from the words and the works of Jesus, that he is God manifested in the flesh.

Have you put your trust in the Good Shepherd? Are you following Jesus? Do you hear his voice? Are you obeying him? Only he can save you from eternal destruction. Only Christ can give you eternal life.

[1] Leon Morris, Expository Reflections on the Gospel of John, p. 387.

[2] Ibid., p. 388.

[3] Ibid., p. 388.

[4] Ibid., p. 388-389.

[5] Ibid., p. 389.

[6] Ibid., p. 389.

[7] Kittel, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, (“Little Kittel”), “ἀπόλλυμι

[8] Morris, Ibid., p. 391.

See also “Gospel of John”:

John 08:31-47, “Children of God, or Sons of Satan?”


Genealogy window, Canterbury Cathedral
Genealogy window, Canterbury Cathedral (Photo credit: TheRevSteve)

Whose child are you?

We recognize that fathers are important. There are but two men on all of human history who had no father: the first Adam and the last Adam. The first man, Adam, who was formed by God from the dust of the ground, and Jesus of Nazareth, who is called the last Adam in 1 Corinthians, who was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. Every other man in the history of humanity had an earthly father.

Whose child are you? The Bible puts great stress on genealogy. The opening chapters of the Book of Genesis trace the generations from Adam to Noah, from the Creation to the Flood. After the Flood, the genealogical record is picked up again from the three sons of Noah down through the Tower of Babel to the calling of Abraham in Genesis 12.

From there the line is traced from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to Jacob’s 12 sons who would become the 12 tribes of Israel. From the Exodus from Egypt, to the establishment of the kingdom of Israel, to the exile in Babylon, to the return from exile, close genealogical records were kept. The records were kept because God had promised a Messiah through the line of Judah and the line of David, a King who would forever sit upon the throne of his father David.

Coming to the New Testament, Matthew and Luke pick up the genealogical line from Adam and from Abraham and show that Jesus is the rightful heir to the throne, the One who had been promised by God.

Today, inheritance is often determined by genealogical records. The father passes his inheritance to his sons. Land is inherited from the father.

Character Traits

It is not only rights to reign or land or inheritance that is passed from father to son. Character and mannerisms and other traits are often passed from father to son. As the son of my father, I will sometimes do something or feel something, and say to myself, “Wow! That was just like Dad!”

I imagine that most of know who our father is. Many of us grew up in a home where the father was present and exercised a great deal of influence on the family and on the children. The presence of a father helps us to find our identity, to know who we are. We have a saying in English, “Like father, like son.” Or in French, “Tel père, tel fils.” We say that a child is a “chip off the old block.” When you chop wood, the chips of wood that fly are of the same nature as the block that you are chopping.

The earlier form of this phrase is ‘chip of the same block’. The block in question may have been stone or wood. It dates back to at least 1621, when it appears in that form in Bishop (of Lincoln) Robert Sanderson’s Sermons:

“Am not I a child of the same Adam … a chip of the same block, with him?”

The phrase “a chip of the old block” means that the son behaves in the same way as his father or resembles his father.”

The influence of fathers on sons is great. So when I ask, “Whose child are you?” I am asking about the influence on your life. I am asking about your identity, who you identify as having the most important influence on your character.

In John 8, three fathers are mentioned, and none of them without importance. In fact, of the three fathers that are mentioned, only one of them was a human father. Besides our human father, every one of us is the child of another father. Every one of us has another father whose character we reflect. So when we try to answer the question, “Whose child are you?” we need to look beyond mere human genealogy. Whose child are you?

John 8:31-47

Our text today is John 8:31-47. Jesus is debating with the Jewish authorities. He has claimed to be the Light of the World (8:12). He has told the Jews, “Unless you believe that I am (he) you will die in your sins” (8:24). Beginning in verse 31, we hear him speaking in the strongest of terms, confronting the Jewish authorities for their sin. This Jesus is not some weakling. He is not intimidated by these men who are determined to kill him. He does not back down one bit. He confronts them, and yet he does so in love, but make no mistake: this is not a friendly dialogue. This is a debate that is full of manly energy. Here is the text:

John 8:31-47 ESV So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 

33 They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never 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 practices sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. 38 I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.” 

39 They answered him, “Abraham is our father.”

Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, 40 but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. 41 You are doing the works your father did.”

They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father– even God.” 

42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. 43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. 46 Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? 47 Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

Children of Abraham

This passage speaks of three fathers. First there is Abraham. He is the man whom the Jews considered to be their father. The Jews took great pride in their descent from Abraham, and they are greatly offended that Jesus would imply that they were slaves.

Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him,

“If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32 ESV).

But they were greatly offended.

They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘you will become free’?” (8:33).

Many privileges came with being the children of Abraham. This is how Paul expresses it in…

Romans 9:4-8 NLT They (the Jews) are the people of Israel, chosen to be God’s adopted children. God revealed his glory to them. He made covenants with them and gave them his law. He gave them the privilege of worshiping him and receiving his wonderful promises. 5 Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are their ancestors, and Christ himself was an Israelite as far as his human nature is concerned. And he is God, the one who rules over everything and is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. 

There were great privileges as well as responsibilities for the children of Abraham. They had received the Word of God, the promises and the blessing of the covenant that God had made with them.

Romans 3:2 NLT Yes, there are great benefits! First of all, the Jews were entrusted with the whole revelation of God.

They also had the responsibility to share God’s Word with the nations. While the nation as a whole was not faithful to the task of evangelizing the nations, the prophets continually addressed their works not only to Israel but also to the surrounding nations, kingdoms, and empires.

As great as the privileges were, Paul goes on to tell us in Romans 9,

6 Well then, has God failed to fulfill his promise to Israel? No, for not all who are born into the nation of Israel are truly members of God’s people! 7 Being descendants of Abraham doesn’t make them truly Abraham’s children. For the Scriptures say, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted,” though Abraham had other children, too. 8 This means that Abraham’s physical descendants are not necessarily children of God. Only the children of the promise are considered to be Abraham’s children.

Being the children of Abraham was not simply a matter of biology. Descent from Abraham was no guarantee that one was right with God or that one was a child of God or that he would have a share in the kingdom of God.

Romans 2:28-29 NLT For you are not a true Jew just because you were born of Jewish parents or because you have gone through the ceremony of circumcision. 29 No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather, it is a change of heart produced by God’s Spirit. And a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people.

Being a child of God means having a new heart. God had promised in Ezekiel

25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules (Eze 36:25-27 ESV).

The proof of the gospel is a new heart.

In verse 37, Jesus recognizes that the Jews are the offspring of Abraham, but in verse 39 he says, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works Abraham did.” Jesus may be making a distinction between offspring and children. In fact, in the original Greek text, the word is σπρμα (Joh 8:33, 37 BNT). They had claimed to be the sperm or the seed of Abraham (8:33), and Jesus says, “I know that you are the seed of Abraham (8:37), but if you were the true children of Abraham you would act like your father (8:39).

They are doing what Abraham would never do: “you are seeking to kill me because my word finds no place in you” (8:37). Again in verses 39 and 40,

Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did.”

“Like father, like son”? Well, they were not acting like the man whom they claimed as their father.

Human Ancestry is Nothing

The Jews put their confidence in their ancestry. They were the offspring of Abraham, and they believed that that was all that mattered.

Are we any different today? We look at our ancestry and think we are okay with God. This is a Christian nation, so we are okay with God. It doesn’t matter how we live or what we do or what we think, long God yumi stanup. Just like the Jews who trusted in their descent from Abraham many people put their trust in their Christian heritage.

Heritage is a great thing and can be a great blessing. We think of people who laid down their lives to bring us the gospel. God moved in these islands and many people came to know the Lord. Some of us have descended from a significant line of Christians. But that has no value if we have not been saved from our sins.

I can trace back several generations of preachers in my family: my grandfather, my great-grandfather, and my great-great-grandfather. But that has no value unless I am born again, unless I become a new creation in Christ Jesus.

Nicodemus was a very religious man, a chef of the Pharisees. He would pray and fast and tithe on everything, but Jesus told him that even he had to be born again. There must be a new birth, a birth into the family of God. Whose child are you?

Violence toward Christ

Jesus pushes this issue with the Jews. They claim to be the offspring of Abraham.

John 8:37-41 NLT Yes, I realize that you are descendants of Abraham. And yet some of you are trying to kill me because there’s no room in your hearts for my message. 38 I 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 really the children of Abraham, you would follow his example. 40 Instead, you are trying to kill me because I told you the truth, which I heard from God. Abraham never did such a thing. 41 No, you are imitating your real father.”

Here Jesus is claiming once again that God is his own Father. It is good for us to remember what John told us in John 5:18, that every time Jesus says “my father,” he claiming that “God is his own Father, making himself equal with God.”

Jesus is saying, “I am like my Father, and you are like your father. You claim to be the children of Abraham, but you are not acting like Abraham. You are trying to kill me. You are following the advice of your real father. I am telling you the truth that I heard from my Father, but you not acting like Abraham. You are acting like your real father.”

Who is their real father?

 They replied, “We aren’t illegitimate children! God himself is our true Father.”

Is that true? Is God really their Father?

Fatherhood of God

Some speak of the fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of man. It is true that we are all brothers and sisters in the sense that we all descended from one man, Adam.

The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth… (Act 17:24-26 ESV)

God has made us all. He is the Creator of us all. But Jesus clearly makes a distinction that the Jews are not ready to receive. The Jews claim that Abraham is their father. Jesus says that they are not acting like Abraham. Instead, they are acting like their true father.

“We are not illegitimate children,” they reply.

The Jews may have been implying that Jesus was illegitimate. In verse 19, they ask, “Where is your father?” Now in verse 41, they say, “We were not born of sexual immorality.” They may have been implying something about Mary. We know from the biblical record that she was still a virgin when she gave birth to Jesus. Joseph did not know her physically until she brought forth her firstborn son. But the Jews did not know all this. There had been questions about Mary and Joseph.

But they still don’t get it. Jesus says that they are not acting like Abraham; they are acting like their real father. Who is that?

“We have one Father—even God,” they say.

But no, Jesus categorically denies that: “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came no of m own accord, but he sent me.”

“If God were your Father,” Jesus says, “you would love me.” Do they love him? No. They want to kill him.

Who wants to kill Jesus? Most people are not openly hostile to Jesus. He is said to be one of the world’s greatest teachers. Some will say that he was a prophet. And if you say these things to most people, there will be little or no objection.

So why did the Jewish authorities want to kill Jesus? They wanted to kill him because he claimed to be much more than a great teacher or a great prophet. He claimed to be equal with God:

This was why the Jews were seeking al the more to kill him… he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God (5:18).

Again in chapter 7:2, “He would not go about in Judea because the Jews were seeking to kill him.”

Jesus asks in 7:19, “Why do you seek to kill me?” In 7:25, “Some of the people of Jerusalem therefore said, “Is not this the man whom they seek to kill?” The Jewish authorities tried to arrest him in 7:30 and 44, but they could not because his hour had not yet come and because no one could take his life from him.


The Jewish authorities were violent toward Christ. Is it not the same today? When we begin to lay out the claims of Christ, some people get upset. People don’t like what Jesus said about himself. “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” Jesus said, “no man comes to the Father except by me” (John 14:6). Jesus said that he was the only way to God. People don’t like that. They want to keep their options open. They want to believe that there are many ways to God and that God is obligated to accept them however they come, whether through Islam or Hinduism or Buddhism or some other way. They don’t want to believe that Jesus is the only true God who is at the Father’s side as John tells us in John 1:18. They don’t want to believe that seeing Jesus is seeing God as Jesus told Philip in 14:9. They don’t want to believe that Jesus is “Lord and God” as Thomas declared in John 20:28.

But Jesus told the Jewish authorities, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me.”

“I came from God.” No mere mortal could make such a statement. Jesus is pointing to his divine origin. Unlike us, he came from God.

“Why do you not understand what I say?” he asks. Then he answers his own question: “It is because you cannot bear to hear my word” (8:43).

Again, we see the importance of the word of Christ. In verse 31, Jesus has said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 8:37 ESV I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you.

John 8:43 ESV Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word.

Finally, Jesus tells them what they do not understand. They have claimed to be the children of Abraham, but twice Jesus told them that rather than acting like the children of Abraham, they were acting like their father.

They claimed that God was their father. Jesus said that if God were their Father, they would love the Father’s Son.

So they are neither the children of Abraham nor the children of God. Then whose children are they?

Jesus finally drops the bomb in verse 44: “You are of your father the devil.”

We must understand that Jesus is not insulting them. He is simply telling them that they are acting like their father. “Like father, like son.” “Tel père, tel fils.”

John 8:44 ESV You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Satan was a murderer from the beginning. It was Satan who inspired Cain to kill his brother Abel. Now the Jewish authorities want to kill Jesus. They are resisting the truth about Christ, the truth that He is God in the flesh. They are resisting because the truth has no place in them. They are resisting because they cannot bear to hear his word. They are resisting because they are acting like their father, the devil.

This is true, not only of the Jewish authorities; it is true of us. The Bible says of us in…

Ephesians 2:1-3 ESV And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience– 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

We were following the course of this world. We were going with the flow. We were living like everyone else. We were living like the world, just doing what culture and society expected of us.

But we were not only following the course of the world; we were following the prince of the power of the air: Satan. He is the spirit that is now working in those who are disobedient to the gospel. We were living according to the passions of our flesh, doing whatever our body and mind desired. We were by nature children of wrath.

That is exactly what Jesus is saying when he says, “You are of your father the devil.” “Like father, like son.”

Whose child are you?

Who is your father? Physical descent has no importance when it comes to spiritual things. My father’s faith will not get me into heaven. God has no grandsons. I do not become a child of God by virtue of the faith of my parents.

There is only one way into God’s family: receiving Christ as your Lord and Savior.

John 1:12-13, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”

As Jesus said to Nicodemus, “You must be born again” by the Spirit of God.

So what is the solution?

We come back to the word of verses 31-32,

John 8:31-32 ESV Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

See also “Gospel of John”: