Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: We are presented with two choices: so accept God as our Father, or to affiliate with the father of lies.

Let us pray.

Heavenly Father, you have chosen the weak things of this world to shame the strong: send your Holy Spirit to enliven my words, and to open our ears, that your Word may fall as seed upon good ground, prepared for planting and ready to yield a good fruit; we ask this in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

I’d like to talk to you about fathers. How many of you have a father? I don’t think there’s anyone here who cannot, in some way, relate to the idea of Father. You may have a great father, as I do. Your father may have been abusive. One shows us a reflection of God; the other points us to a need for our ultimate Father in Heaven. But we have a need for a father.

We look for fathers in the various aspects of our lives. We have natural, or adopted fathers in our family lives. We have mentors, father figures in our work. And we have spiritual fathers, who help guide and shepherd our souls. Beyond this, all our lives—all we do, say, think, everything—is done for our Father.

And there are two choices, two persons who can act in this role as super-father: God and the Devil. St. Paul tells us that we are either slaves of sin or slaves to God (Rom. 6:22). We will follow the example of our father, for good or bad.

Take a look at today’s Gospel lesson: John 8:37–47. We see three things being woven through Jesus’ dialogue with the Jews here: paternity, which is just a fancy way of say, who their father is; truth versus lies; and killing. I’ll let you meditate on the last two on your own. But let’s focus on the idea of Father.

Jesus says: “I know you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word.

Paternity: “I know you are Abraham’s descendants.” The bloodline of these Jews is unquestionable. Jesus concedes this from the start. Yet, despite their noble pedigree, something is not right with them. For they want to kill Jesus, their Messiah, God’s anointed one. They are ready to turn away the hope of salvation which had been promised to their fathers.

"I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you do what you have heard from your father.”

Jesus tells them that His words are not His own but flow from His Father. The trustworthiness of Jesus is not solely based on Himself, although it could be (as He told us way back in verse 14). Jesus’ authority is related to that of His Father. But Jesus pushes His point about their lineage a bit farther by pointing out that His Father is distinct from theirs.

“Abraham is our father,” they answered. “If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus,” then you would do the things Abraham did.

These Jews were Abraham’s children. Right? Of course! Wrong! Jesus had just told the Jews that they were Abraham’s children in verse 37. Now He tells them “If you were Abraham’s children.” These Jews may have been blood descendants of Abraham, but they were not his sons! They are denied the benefits of the covenant. They chose to be sons of the wrong father. They had great, great potential. They’re supposed to be sons of the covenant. But they fail to live up to that potential

"As it is, you are determined to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. You are doing the things your own father does.”

Did you catch Jesus’ progression? Who is His Father, from whom he speaks truth, is no longer in question! His Father is none other than God Himself! As in the previous verse, Jesus makes a point that their ancestor, Abraham, “did not do such things.” Their father is pushed further and further away from God. Jesus pushes them over the edge.

“We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.”

This is too much for the Jews. They catch Jesus’ direction and revolt against it. They throw up their blinders and ignore the real world around them. The only Father of the Jews is God. Indeed this is so.

"Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me."

Jesus has denied their claim of Abrahamic descent. Now He denies their claim of divine patronage. They cannot have God as their Father, for they do not love the Son whom He sent. The incarnation was not something that the Son cooked up one day. No, He did not come on His own, but with authority from God the Father!

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