Jesus said unto them. If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceedeth forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech ? – because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not …
These are striking, even shocking words from Jesus Christ. They challenge the misconceptions people often have about Jesus Christ.
They were even more shocking at that time. The Jews prided themselves on being God’s own people – they were the chosen whose ancestors had been led out of Egypt by Moses in obedience to Almighty God.
They saw God as their God, the Father of their nation.
That was their religion.
But Jesus is not talking in religious terms here. In fact he is in the process of condemning religious thinking and practice. No, Jesus is talking in spiritual terms.
He is not talking in the perspective of religious history, but from the perspective of spiritual reality.
These Jews were indeed religious. But they remained bound up in the sin they had inherited from their forefather Adam who had sinned against God and was cast out of the garden.
At that point in the history of mankind – which Christian doctrine knows as the Fall of man from the grace of God – all mankind became subject to God’s curse and consequently to death.
The account is in chapter 3 of the first book of the Bible, appropriately called Genesis.
At that point of disobedience, mankind became subject to Satan [who in this passage Jesus calls by his other name, the Devil].
Because the first man, Adam, listened to what Satan said in complete contrast to what God had commanded.
Because Adam listened and then acted on what Satan [the Devil] said, he became subject to Satan.
The seed of evil was sown in Adam’s mind and heart, and he accepted it, and bore the fruit of it – that is disobedience to God and obedience to the Devil.
That is why Jesus here refers to the Devil as their father – because their forefather Adam had listened to Satan, and because the Jews had refused for centuries to listen to God’s prophets, and the message of repentance they spoke.
The seed of a thought was sown in them by means of WORDS.
They accepted evil words. Evil is defined biblically as that which is opposed to God’s WORDS, God’s commands, God’s wisdom, God’s teaching.
And we are all subject to the same evil spiritual influence because we are all the descendants of Adam.
All of us. Which is why the apostle Paul writes to the Romans that there is none righteous, no, not one !
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. All are hell bound because that is the destination of the father of evil, the Devil – Satan.
But that is why Jesus came.
He came with a message – with the WORDS – to undo what the Devil had sown in Adam’s mind and so consequently in the minds of all Adam’s children who are now born under God’s condemnation, God’s curse.
Jesus came to undo the work of Satan in the human heart. We must hear the WORDS of Jesus – what he taught and what he did. We must listen to the one whom the Bible calls the word made flesh.
And having heard the words of Jesus, we must accept them and ACT on them.
To undo the spiritual hold which Satan has over every human life – except over Christians, because Jesus has set them free from their inherited sinfulness and their inherited spiritual master, Satan.
At the cross to which Jesus was going later in the events recorded for us in John’s Gospel – at the cross, Jesus shed his blood to wash away my sin and yours – to be the sacrifice which assuages the anger of a holy, righteous God against our sinfulness and our obedience to Satan – a liar and a murderer. A wrecker.
And the more we look at the world today, the more we see the destructive work of the murderer and liar among human beings.
Jesus alone is the answer.
Jesus alone can make God our Creator, our true benefactor, our Father once again.
And to do that we have to follow the command which Peter gave to his hearers on the day of Pentecost recorded in chapter 2 of the book of Acts, and specifically at verse 38:
Repent and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
To undo Satan’s hold we must
- Accept God’s verdict that we are sinners in need of Jesus Christ to set us free
- Believe in who he is and what he says by being Baptised in water – going down to identify with his death, and identifying with his resurrection as we come up again
- Confirm all this by Continuing in the teaching of Jesus Christ and his apostles