Summary: Do you know what? We do the same thing. We say the same erroneous things to ourselves that the Jews did and we do not even realize it. We need to be grounded in truth with ourselves and with God.


JOHN 8:31-41

INTRODUCTION... Was Popeye Right? By Karl Kruszelnicki’s 5-24-2001

The cartoon character Popeye is famous for eating spinach. Whenever he breaks open a can of spinach and eats it he gains enormous strength. Popeye was employed by the US Government during World War 2 to promote the idea of eating spinach. Meat was a rarity during war, but spinach appeared to be a great substitute. In the 1890’s German scientists had shown that spinach contains the same amount of iron as meat. And iron of course is one of the essential vitamins in building strength.

But the facts are wrong. The German researchers did prove that spinach contains iron, but when they wrote down their results they put the decimal point in the wrong place. They overestimated the amount of iron in spinach by a factor of 10! Unfortunately, the correction didn’t get across the ocean until after WW2. This episode shows how easily false ideas can quickly become accepted truth.

The world was under the mistaken impression that spinach would build muscle and strength. If you did not

know the truth, I apologize for all the spinach you have had to eat over your lifetime. I also must apologize and say that you are no stronger for it! Sometimes the truth can be skewed or we can be misled. Sometimes we can have a wrong world view. This was definitely the case of the Jews in John 8:31-41.

READ JOHN 8:31-41

This passage centers around a conversation between Jesus and some Jews that were following Him. The conversation began after the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law brought Jesus the woman caught in the act of adultery. He did not fall into their trap and then began to question the testimony He was giving. Jesus tries to explain to the Jews that He came from God and was going about doing the work of God. Some did not know what He was talking about. Some did not believe. Some did believe... verse 30 tells us that. We pick up in verse 31 in the middle of the conversation.


This passage contains several areas where the Jews were not thinking correctly. I do think that Jesus could have been talking to any group and this subject would have come up. He could have talked to the disciples and perhaps they would have said the same things.

One of the first errors we see occurs in verse 33. They state matter of factly that they are the descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves. They do not need Jesus to make them free. Is that true? Is it true that Abraham’s descendants have always been a free people? We know this to be false. Exodus 1:8-14 tells us what the facts are.


We know that it is a fact that the Israelites were slaves in Egypt. Yet, these people talking with Jesus seem to forget all about Exodus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Not only that, ifg one keeps reading you find that all throughout Israel’s history some nation has been oppressing them because of their faithlessness to God.

We might think to ourselves, well, they mean themselves only. They personally have not been slaves to anyone and are a totally free people. Was that true? We know that in Jesus’ day that the whole area of Judea was under control of the Romans. There was a garrison in every town and they lived in the shadow of the Roman Empire. They were not free people.

Another error that we see occurs in verse 39. The Jews speaking to Jesus tell Him plainly that Abraham is their father. This is a fact that Jesus agrees with them on in verse 37 and is true. They people standing before Him and even Jesus Himself were all descendants of Abraham. None of that is in dispute. So where is the error?

The error comes because of the way that they are using the word ’father.’ A father is someone who children pattern themselves after. I do not think it is a stretch to say that as a definition of a father. The Jews Jesus is speaking to are claiming that their attitudes and actions are all patterned after Abraham. Is that true? Are the Jews standing before Jesus patterns of Abraham?

Well, I suppose we need to find out what Abraham was like to make a judgment. Hebrews 11:8-19 gives us a wonderful picture of this man Abraham. As we read, look for a pattern in the life of Abraham that would characterize him. It might come in the form of a phrase that is repeated over and over through the verses. Let’s look.


I think we see clearly that the pattern in the life of Abraham was faith. That is actually the point of the entire 11th chapter of Hebrews... to point out the faith of those who had come before. Abraham was a man of faith who obeyed his God and looked forward to the Promises of God to be fulfilled. Are the Jews Jesus (Christ the Promised Messiah) is speaking to patterns of Abraham? I do not believe so. If they were, they would have seen the Messiah standing before them instead of a troublesome rabbi. If they were, they would have seen how He fulfilled the Old Testament promises and prophecies so perfectly. If they were, they would not try and trap Him on so many occasions. They were not faithful people.

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