Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg
with Tom Fuller
Lost in Translation
How well do you know Jesus? Some of us grew up in church and think we know him. He\'s the guy who walked on water and changed water into wine and started that Golden Rule thing. Others know Jesus as a good man who gave us a lot of good advice on how to live. To others Jesus is love guy-love your enemies, God so loved the world-that sort of thing.
But as it turns out, the more you know Jesus the more you realize how little you really know him. The more you learn about him the more you understand that it isn\'t enough to acknowledge him as the baby carried in Mary\'s arms or an historic figure who told us how to live.
In fact, Jesus seems in Chapter 8 to probe people\'s belief in him to help them realize they don\'t really believe in the one who has come but in the one they wanted. In the last part of chapter 8 Jesus digs under the surface of people\'s hearts and beliefs and opinions to reveal the truth and offer the truth.
31 - 33
One of the things I love about Jesus is that he doesn\'t want anyone to be fooled into thinking they belong to him when they really don\'t yet. Notice that Jesus says \"to the Jews who had believed in him.\" The gurus of ministry growth would tell you not to ruffle the feathers of people already in your camp.
But Jesus doesn\'t want acquaintances, he wants disciples. It all starts with the words of Jesus \"abiding\" in us. That means to dwell, remain, endure and to be present. If the words of the gospel just bounce off and don\'t take root they are not abiding. Then those words lead to true discipleship, not the \"we like you now so we\'ll hang out with you\" kind of relationship the people he\'s talking to have. And it is only true disciples (read: apprentice, learning how to be like Jesus) that are freed from sin.
The word \"free\" is what sparked the response from the Jews. The Jews were all about being \"free.\" In fact they were a very stubborn and independent people. Ever since God rescued them from Egypt they rankled at ever being ruled by anyone (including God). God didn\'t free them so they could chart their own destiny in the universe, he freed them so they could belong to him!
Ezekiel 16:8-9 \"When I passed by you again and saw you, behold, you were at the age for love, and I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness; I made my vow to you and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Lord God, and you became mine. ESV
Since they didn\'t want to belong to God, the Lord put them under worldly kings and kingdoms. Currently they were under bondage to the Romans and that political undercurrent is probably why the Jews react so quickly. \"What do you mean we aren\'t free?\"
But Jesus wasn\'t talking about physical or political freedom, he was talking about spiritual freedom-freedom in the truest sense of the word. What these people think they believe in is a rescuer for their nation but what they really need is a rescuer for their souls because even though they think they are free they are really helpless slaves.
34 - 38
These five verses pack a wallop. Jesus here lays it out pretty thick but totally plain:
1. If you do something, anything, that is outside the character of God you have sinned and if you have sinned you have made yourself a slave to that sin. Paul explains it later in his letter to the Romans:
Romans 6:16-19 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. ESV
So you see, we really are always slaves. We get the choice though, to be slaves of Satan and sin or slaves of God and right.
2. You think that as sons of Abraham that you are automatically and firmly in God\'s favor but slaves can be bought, sold, or traded. Slaves have no right to remain in the house and slaves to sin have no right to be in God\'s presence. Only a blood relative to God can hope to stay in the family forever. Jesus is telling them that though they are related by blood to Abraham they are not related by blood to God. The Law was always supposed to point to Jesus and the Jews who pointed elsewhere, and the system of rules they created, is also being rejected outside of belief in Jesus (see Romans 11). If they were truly Abraham\'s offspring Jesus\' words would have resonated with them as the truth.
3. It\'s only by the Son of Man (the way Jesus referred to himself) that you can become free of sin (and become related to God by blood - the blood of Jesus (Galatians 3:6-29) and become true offspring spiritually of Abraham.
4. Until you are born into the family of God you actually belong to the family of Satan. Because Satan is a sworn enemy of God he inspires his sons to kill the Son of man. As sons of Abraham they should have recognized Jesus from the Scriptures and Jesus\' own words but their true family of origin trumps their national identity.
39 - 40
They claim to be Abraham\'s children yet they are not doing as their father Abraham did who heard God\'s word and obeyed it (Genesis 12:1-4, 15:6, 22:1-14) and when God\'s messengers came to him about Sodom and Gomorrah he believed them (Gen 18:1-8). So now watch how they respond - now it\'s getting personal so they try to lodge a spear into Jesus\' heart.
Jesus tells them that they are actually acting like their father, Lucifer. Isaiah the Prophet describes the character and desires of this former arch-angel:
Isaiah 14:13-17 I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.\' 15 But you are brought down to Sheol, to the far reaches of the pit. 16 Those who see you will stare at you and ponder over you: \'Is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms, 17 who made the world like a desert and overthrew its cities, who did not let his prisoners go home?\' ESV
Lucifer is the inspiration for all stubborn independence against God. He wanted to exalt himself above God and when we decide that we know better and that we can decide our own fate we are doing the same thing.
So they launch their secret weapon-accusing Jesus of being a child of sexual immorality. Apparently the rumor that spread after Mary was found to be with child was that she hadn\'t been impregnated by God but by a Roman soldier from the garrison at Nazareth. It doesn\'t stick at all and Jesus basically ignores the jab.
But now they go on-no longer calling Abraham their father, they claim that God is their father-a pretty bold statement given the fact that in chapter 5 the Jews tried to kill him because he claimed that God was His father. (5:18)
42 - 47
Jesus lays it out for them: you think you are of the truth and of God, but if you were you\'d believe in Me. But in fact you are of your real father the Devil and because of that you believe his lies and buy into his murderous intent towards me. You think it\'s the truth because you were born speaking his language-it is your native tongue: the language of lies.
At first hearing the good news of Jesus Christ is a little like hearing a foreign language. It doesn\'t make sense that we are destined to be separated from all that is good by the evil that is inside us, an evil that is endemic to the human race. It sounds ludicrous that we belong to Satan and need a rescuer to pull us from sin\'s hold, wash us clean by a blood sacrifice of God Himself and that we must belong to someone-either Satan the father of lies, or Jesus the Father of truth. But then the words of the gospel begin to penetrate.
Romans 1:16-17 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, \"The righteous shall live by faith.\" ESV
There is a power in the gospel, and it\'s God\'s word that penetrates the hard soul and can reach down to reveal what is really inside us and then bring us to that faith and trust in Jesus that goes beyond just the surface kind of faith they had-like belonging to a club.
As if this wasn\'t enough-Jesus pushes the knife of the truth in far enough to get the reaction is waiting for: acceptance and faith or utter rejection.
48 - 59
Now the Jews result to name calling since they have no arguments against Jesus\' revealing of the true nature of their character. They call him a Samaritan (not a real Jew) and demon possessed (this is really a dangerous thing).
Satan and his demons only seek to honor themselves and dishonor God. Jesus makes it clear that he is not possessed by a demon but honors the Father with all that He is. Their claim was also that he must be crazy (possessed) to claim that he was greater than anyone who had ever lived since he said he could stop death.
This is a tough thing to hear-was Jesus deluded, possessed, a liar, or was he, perhaps, right?
What does Jesus mean by Abraham saw my day and rejoiced? There are several possibilities. 1. The rabbis taught that Abraham was given foresight into future of his descendants, including the coming of the Messiah, so he looked forward to the coming of Jesus. 2. God gave Abraham the promise of an everlasting covenant and a blessing to all nations (brought about through the Messiah) and 3. the prophetic promise in Genesis 22:8 \"God will provide himself a lamb for the sacrifice.\" A clear Messianic promise.
But Jesus doesn\'t stop there. He makes the unmistakable claim that even before Abraham lived Jesus existed. He uses the Greek ego eimi - the equivalent of \":Yahweh\" in Hebrew. He was claiming to be God, so these people who in verse 31 claimed to be followers of Jesus picked up stones to kill him as a blasphemer.
Are you a follower or just a distant acquaintance of Jesus Christ?
What family do you belong to? If you aren\'t a blood relative of Jesus then you don\'t belong to God\'s family no matter what you say or want. It\'s only by bowing, recognizing the evil in us, and giving ourselves over to Him that we change families.
The gospel might sound at first like a foreign language, but if you listen closely it is actually the native language of the heart, a language you can understand.
Is it no wonder that discussions about Jesus can easily end in hard feelings, even blows?
I\'m not saying that we should be out there picking a fight-we don\'t need to. All we need to do is live our lives as visible Christians and not be afraid to share the hope that is within us. That\'s usually plenty to spark a fight with a heart that belongs to Lucifer.
Does Jesus\' word find a place in your heart (37)?
Or when you hear the words of Jesus Christ are they hard to bear (39)? Try to \"abide\" in his words-let them have a home in your heart and let them speak to you of sin, slavery, Jesus and freedom. The key to understanding that language is to let the words of Christ \"abide\" in you.