“I know that you are Abraham’s descendants, but you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. 38 I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have seen with your father.”
39 They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.”
Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham. 40 But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. 41 You do the deeds of your father.”
Then 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 came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. 43 Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. 46 Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? 47 He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God.” — John 8:37-47.
Those who really belong to God listen to His words, which are the truth. Those who do not belong to God have no desire to hear His words. This is a key test of whether someone knows God.
“Abraham’s descendants” (v.37). — God is interested in spiritual descent rather than physical ancestry. It does not matter how good a person’s ancestors have been if he or she is walking in the path of disobedience (Ezekiel 18). Likewise it does not matter how bad a person’s ancestors have been if that person is renewed by God’s Spirit and walks in the way of faith.
“Abraham did not do this” (v.40). — Abraham was obedient to God’s direction even when it was painful for him. Jesus’ audience claimed to be Abraham’s descendants, but Jesus shows they are not like their ancestor in the essential matter of obedience. True sonship is not defined by biology but by obedience.
“born of fornication” (v.41). — This may well have been a sarcastic suggestion that Jesus was illegitimate.
“you would love me” (v.41). — The unity between Father and Son is so profound that no one can belong to the Father and reject the Son. Again Jesus’ origin is a point of contention.
“You are of your father the devil” (v.44). — The relation of truth and righteousness has been prominent in this Gospel. People love darkness (error) rather than light (truth), because their deeds are evil (3:10). A frightful contrast is apparent here; there are just two options: God or Satan. By God’s grace, Abraham (vv. 39–41) had walked in the way of faith and obedience. Those who rejected Jesus were doing the opposite.
“Desire. . .want to do.” — Sinners desire to do what is evil. Only a supernatural act of grace can redirect a person’s will to desire the good.
“He was a murderer . . . a liar.” — Among all the sins that could be mentioned as characteristic of Satan, murder and lying are singled out: lying because it is the direct opposite of “truth,” the central emphasis of this section (vv. 32–47); and murder because they desired to kill Jesus (v. 40). Satan contrasts sharply with Jesus who is “the truth, and the life” (14:6) and the giver of life (10:10, 28).
“Which of you convicts me of sin” (v.46). — No one can convict Jesus of sin, or prove any charge against Him. Jesus is free of all sin (2 Corinthians 5:21), “holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners” (Hebrews 7:26), doing always what pleases the Father (v. 29).
“you do not hear” (v.47). — Sin paralyzes our spiritual senses. Only an act of God’s grace enables a sinner to hear His voice (cf. v. 43; 10:3, 4, 16, 27).