This section of Scripture seems to begin with good news: “As he was
saying these things, many believed in him” (John 8:30). However, we
quickly see that the “belief” that these people have is extremely
shallow. They say that they are followers of Jesus, but when he says
that a right may only be obtained by faith in
him, they are offended. These people help us to understand what
happened to so many people during Jesus’ time of ministry. Many of
the Jews who first believed in Jesus had only a shallow belief, and
would eventually turn against him. They hated Jesus because, in
reality, they hated the one who sent him.
exchanges. First, Jesus challenges their superficial belief by saying
that only those who continue to abide in his words are able to
experience true freedom. They object that they have no need to be set
free. They were the physical descendants of Abraham, and as such they
were spiritually superior to all other nations. Jesus responds that
they were enslaved by sin.
This leads to the second exchange, which involved their true lineage.
Jesus tells them that if they were the spiritual children of Abraham,
they would have joy over him as Abraham did. However, they are
neither his children nor God’s children, since they hold their hands
over their ears whenever Jesus speaks. They desire to kill him,
because they have been influenced by their true father, Satan.
The third exchange involves Jesus’ identity. It begins with the Jew’s
insisting that Jesus is irreligious and possessed by a demon. Jesus
responds by saying that he is not irreligious, he seeks only to honor
his father. Those who hear his words and believe in him will have
eternal life. This statement seems ridiculous to the Jews. After all,
Abraham died. How can Jesus claim give eternal life, thereby making
himself to be greater than Abraham?
Jesus responds by saying that he does not glorify himself, but the
Father is the one who glorifies him. Jesus says that he saw Abraham
rejoice over the glory he had been given by the Father. The Jews
regarded this as the most ridiculous statement of all! How could a
mere man, less than fifty years old, claim to have seen Abraham?
Jesus responds by saying that he has not only seen Abraham, but
existed before Abraham existed. He is God. The Jews tried to stone
him, but were unable to do so, for his time had not yet come.