Reframing Your Father | John 8:31-59

March 17, 2019 Speaker: Christopher Rich Series: Reframing Jesus

Topic: Gospel Passage: John 8:31–8:59

Introduction | Where are you from?

Good Morning Welcome to Damascus Road where we are Saved by Jesus Work,Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission. Today we are continuing our series REFRAMING JESUS: Portraits of Glory from John’s Gospel.In Reframing Jesus, our desire isn’t to reinvent Jesus into someone He is not or make Jesus into an image we are more comfortable with. Instead, we seek to have our portrait of Jesus reframed by John’s Gospel to see Him as accurately and glorious as possible.

Where are you from? Rather who are you from? How does you past origin impact your present character? What has happened in your past that is still impacting you today? What has happened even before you were born that has influenced your life? None of us are neutral blank beings that write our own stories or choose every influence in our lives that impacts us. You grew up in a place with a people. You heard things about your family that you realize is also about you. Some of these narratives can be helpful, you have a family with some history that inspires you to live in ways that are aspirational. Sometimes knowing the past of your family can lead to despair as you consider generations of brokenness, sin, abuse, or failure. Negatively, and sometimes positively, this can lead us to feeling of being enslaved to these stories. I’ll always be a failure because I am a “blank” or I’ll never live up to legendary status of my father. Maybe you don’t want to think a few generations back, but your direct experience in your own lifetime will undoubtably have an influence. Maybe even one of rejecting what you’ve experienced and vacillating to the opposite end of the spectrum. Regardless, it’s important to ask some questions.How does your origin impact your identity? How does identity impact your character and what your life now and forever looks like? Because it’s not a matter of if you’re impacted by your family of origin, but how have you been. Furthermore, what ultimate family line are you a part of? In Jesus we are Reframing Your Father. 

PART I |Reframing Freedom |John 8:31-38

John 8:31-38 |31 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.”

What is genuine faith? Authentic faith? Jesus engages specifically with “believing Jews” regarding true nature of freedom and family. They say “they believe in a Jesus who brings light into the darkness,” and He wants to clarify what it means to be a genuine disciple. The clarity is necessary because while they affirm Jesus in part, Jesus is much more comprehensive in what it means to believe in Him. He is going to challenge them at the very core of their identity, origin, linage, and allegiance, for the purpose of calling them to new, better, fuller life with Him. Jesus doesn’t want converts, Jesus wants lives changed. He doesn’t want affirmation but transformation. He doesn’t want people to ascribe to some of His teaching, He wants authentic disciples with all of their being, so people can experience true freedom beyond their current status.

A disciple will Abide in Jesus words about who He is and who we are with Him or without him (remain ABIDE: To not depart, to be held and kept continually, to endure, to not perish, to remain as one, to survive, to live)

This abiding leads to an intimate knowledge of the truth. Jesus is the truth. Not only cogitatively but relationally.This knowledge of the truth will set us free. This means without the truth, without Jesus we are NOT Free. Jesus is the way, the truth, the life, so if you if you’re not following Jesus you’re actually a slave.

On our own we are less free than we can see. We are in more slavery than we know. The Jews say they have never been enslaved. Their nation’s history of overwhelmingly slavery in Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, to current Roman occupation/exile/slavery says otherwise. It’s absurd to deny the impact of your past and the reality of your present. They think they’re free now, you might think you’re free now.This is the height of slavery, we’re born into it because we all have sin in us so we think the slavery we’ve been born into is the natural order of things, so we don’t look for anything better. We won’t deeply desire freedom until we can recognize how enslaved we are.So know your slavery in a way that drives you to want to be free from it. Know your slavery, don’t deny it. What has been owning you? Where do you need to be set free? Where do you need truth to be present? What calls you or commands you that when it speaks you cannot help but obey it. It’s almost as if you have no control over it? What is robbing you of flourishing life, that you think if you could just control you would be free when instead it’s controlling you?

The slavery we are in is our own sin.Jesus says they are slaves, slaves to sin. Knowing, seeing, and obeying the Truth will set them free. Jesus is the truth. He says you, me, we, have been enslaved (are slaves) to our sin. We are “bondservants” of our sin. We’re not free in sin we’re owned by and defined by it. We are enslaved to our past when we are in denial of it. We are enslaved to our present when we don’t recognize where we are currently at. We need to be made aware that what we’re practicing without Jesus is sin.

This means we practice our slavery. Jesus says this is our current condition and this is our constant disposition. When you’re a slave you do things and act in ways that betray something/someone is master over you. You are driven to serve that master knowing there are consequences if you don’t. In our sin, when enslaved to sin we will believe that to not obey that master will cause us pain. So when we’re enslaved to our own urges we will respond to service those urges intentionally, quickly, and completely to avoid the pain we believe is present if we do not serve our sin. The reality is because we are slaves to our sin we are alienated from the God who created us. This world, all of creation is His. We’re slaves in his house, in this world enjoying the goodness of God’s creation but we do not have a permanent place here (or in the future of God’s promises to be with His people) We do not get to dwell/abide lastingly in God’s house. We’re not in our family home…. Because we are not in God’s family. Jesus says “you’re slaves, just know you’re slaves!” Know who you are apart from Christ, know how dire your situation is. Slaves don’t have any lasting place in the father’s house. But family…. they have inheritance. Jesus says, I’m the Son, I set slaves free! If you’re set free from slavery by Jesus you don’t have to question or wonder about your status, you don’t have to be concerned I am I now free? Yes! Free indeed! There are great implications to this!!

That means you don’t have to practice your slavery any more. That means when sin comes calling you as your master commanding you to practice your own destruction, you don’t have to obey! You’ve been set free, you don’t have to listen to that master anymore! You are now a son or daughter of God you are part of His household and can, and should, live like it. This is not a new slavery to obedience to God, where we see Him as a new slave master. (While Paul says I am a slave to Christ) Jesus isn’t saying trade one slavery for another, but He is here to take slaves and make them free. We have been set free not to do whatever we want, but live as we’ve been called to by God. It is a freedom where we have been given new desires so our obedience to God is actually something we find freeing not laborious. This is the offer of new life.

Freedom is here in Jesus but it “finds no place in you” because you don’t abide/receive His words instead you’re listening to another story…. From another family… If you hear the words of Jesus, if you’re called and commanded by Jesus, and you find yourself rejecting what Jesus says about Himself and your life with Him, then that is a great diagnostic question to evaluate what family you’re really in….

PART II | Reframing Family| John 8:39-47

John 8:39-47 |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.”

We follow our father. Abraham, he had many sons, etc We’re part of a family line of promises from and favor with God. We’ve measured up to our family line. We aren’t slaves, we’re children of promise and we’re living well enough to be considered part of this family. They are self-righteous from their family.

We will follow in our father’s footsteps. Our history has an impact. Origin has an impact. You can go back a few generations and see what has it led to here and now. Jonathan Edwards had this awesome legacy but the same is true of less than awesome legacies. We can be enslaved to the legacies of our families both positively and negatively. How have you let your family of origin define you? Oh, we’re the “so and so’s” we don’t xyz…. Oh be a “blank” man we always X. So we have these life experiences and influences and we bring them in to our lives now and they have an impact on how we see ourselves, how we engage with others, even how we regard God. This happens even as Christians coming to community with others, we bring own wounds, and pasts and then we (usually unknowingly) start to put them on others around us. Where have you failed to consider how your past or present has impacted or is impacting you?

Your family heritage matters and does have an impact on you today. But it doesn’t have to define you forever.It also won’t save you. Jesus cares less about your bloodline and what other generations have done before you and more about your obedience and heart disposition now and today. He says, if you we’re really part of the family of promise you’d be living like it. Jesus is more subtle about His challenges on how and where they think their righteousness with God is and is not from. They ignore the challenge and turn it around to question the illegitimacy of Jesus “family of origin” Um, we heard the story about how your mom was a “virgin” before her wedding. All of the sudden their fandom of Jesus became frustration. We’ve got a family that’s “good” what about yours Jesus? They also turn it up a notch.. We’re not just part of the family of promise from God….We’re all God’s children… God is our father… yours we’re not so sure about… More pride in their own story and belief of their own family goodness. There hope is in their history.

We are not all God’s children. We are all made in the image and likeness of God, but we are not all positionally in the family. Because of sin, without the work of Jesus in our place and in our lives, we are slaves outside the family. We are estranged, separated from, God the Father. Ephesians 2 says we’re children of wrath… destined for destruction. This is our spiritual condition and family position on our own because of sin. Jesus is clear, THE criteria for if you’re in “Abraham’s family of promise” IS “do you have love for Jesus?” If God is your Father, then you will worship Jesus as the Son. He says you cannot bear His words. You cannot stand the truth! This is what tells you if you’re in the family or not. If you’re not…..

Verse 44 Gets real and clear…. Your father is the Devil… You’re pursuing sin, because you desire sin.You desire sin, because you are the children (spiritually) of one who rejected God first. You’re doing what your father did (believing, and perpetuating, the lie that God doesn’t love you, that sin doesn’t enslave, that sin doesn’t lead to death) Jesus flushes out what the implications of this linage is... Sin is slavery… You murder, you lie, don’t have the truth, don’t receive the truth. Your father of lies is living out of his character. You are living out of that character in sin. Lying and believing lies is your native language, it’s you family’s way.

Jesus that’s not really seeker sensitive…. Jesus you’re not really affirming or encouraging… Jesus is being clear for the purposes of great compassion. To raise the important questions. What is your disposition to Jesus? Who’s family are you in? If your desire is to reject Jesus then you know what family you’re in….“children of wrath”, but that is not necessary to stay in this devilish family. God’s love changes us into new people, in a new family, with a new future! You don’t have to remain in your old family!

Galatians 4:3-7 |In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

In Jesus we make a transition from slave to son!! We need this change in our nature and identity. This should cause you to reconsider every aspect of your life that has been shaped by and influenced by your family of origin. You cannot boast in your own family (apart from God’s grace in it) We are empowered to practice a new life of freedom, of liberty. To not be defined by our spiritual father or our earthly one.

PART III | Reframing Your Father |John 8:48-59

John 8:48-59 |48 The Jews answered him, “Are we not right in saying 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 Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge. 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, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.’ 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who 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 But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. 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, I am.” 59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.

Family bonds are strong, we’ve been made to be comfortable enslaved in a family apart from God. We don’t like to be challenged. They cannot stand the truth so the move from a theological argument to a personal attack. They respond to this charge from Jesus not with a soft heart but to attack Jesus further. You’re a race we don’t like that is “less than faithful to our family." Then they get real mature. We’re not from the devil… you are….. At a certain point we know how foolish we sound when we’re debating with God about our own condition. What is your response to Jesus calling you a child of the devil? Anger, or anguish?

Jesus offers a new family. Jesus offers life. Jesus offers them a way out of slavery. Jesus is not condemning them He’s remaining firm so they can be clear about their current family. The Jews had placed their hope in being in Abraham’s family. They don’t realize the hope of Abraham was life found with God through Jesus. We need new life. Each of us needs to be set free from our unfit father the devil who has us in a house of lies and death.

In verse 51, despite all the strong clear/damning language from Jesus there is still a gracious offer. Jesus comes to gloriously lead a people from this damned family to a new and better forever family defined by truth and life with God as our Father. Join a new family. You’re the devil’s kids, do you want to be in a new family? Jesus went to the Cross to pay the ransom for the devil’s kids, to have them adopted back into God’s family. Devil’s kids are the only ones available to adopt in to the new ….. better… family… So the questions isn’t just what family are you a part of? But what family do you want to be a part of?!

Jesus keeps the pressure on…. Abraham wanted to see me and my day…. Do you think you’re greater than Abraham? Or the prophets… Yup!! I AM the fulfillment of the promises of God to Abraham.

I AM the one who will bless people from every nation. Jesus is the I AM who spoke to Moses to lead his people from slavery. I AM the Creator of Everything, and I AM the God who takes slaves and makes them family…. If you’re family… then stop acting like a slave. Know you’re free… free to know God, free to obey God! If you’re In Christ and part of the family, then where do you need the Power of the Holy Spirit in you to break the chains of slavery? Ask God in the Holy Spirit to show you where your sin has actually led you to slavery, and what do you need to be set free from? Come to Jesus who sets us free. If you’re not in the family. Repent, reject you’re old family and identity as a child of wrath and receive new life and entrance into this new family with a promised inheritance. Be Baptized signifying the old you (member of an old family) dying and rising as part of God’s family now and forever!

In Christ, know you’re adopted and set free indeed to live a life in a new, holy, family with God as you Father, when you Trust Jesus.