Summary: 7th in the series "Conversations With Jesus." Jesus tells the Pharisees that they are not the Children of God because they lack a family resemblance
About 8 years ago I nearly swerved off the road in downtown St. Louis when I saw a Billboard with this message: A photo of a baby with the words "Who’s my Daddy" and the telephone number 1-800-DNA-1005. I guess it’s a sign of the times that the market for these services is great enough that the Billboards have now sprung up all over the country.
Who uses these service? Well, I think that’s a topic for another sermon, but I can tell you who doesn’t use them--those whose family resemblance is clear. Where the resemblance is strong, parentage is clear. Where the resemblance is missing, then parentage could possibly be called into question.
Jesus makes the same point about spiritual parentage to the religious leaders that he talks to in today’s conversation with Jesus.
There’s a popular notion in our world that God is the Father of all mankind. That No matter our creed or religion or our concept of God, He is the Father of all of us and we are all brothers and sisters, The song "Let There Be Peace on Earth," happily proclaimed "With God as our father, Brothers all are we."
There’s only one problem with that pleasant picture--It’s not true. In our passage today Jesus makes it abundantly clear that not only is God not the Father of all mankind, He’s not even the Father of mnay who consider themselves His children.
So how do we know if God is our Father or if we are spiritual heirs of the Devil? Is there a DNA test? Well no, but there are some diagnostic measures I’d like to apply this morning--there the ones Jesus uses to show the religious leaders of His day that their paternity was suspect. The first thing that distinguishes the children of God is..
31To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
33They answered him, "We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?"
34Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
The people who respnd toJesus in verse 33 seem to be not those who had believed in Him that he had addressed in verses 31-32 but rather the unbelieving Pharisees and other religious leaders that Jesus had been engaging in the earlier verses. Now they say, look haw can you set us free when we are descendants of Abraham and free men? Immediately Jesus questions their place in the family saying, they are indeed slaves--slaves to sin. Only sons have a place in the Family. Jesus says he is the one who can set us free so that we might be sons and have a place in God’s family. How does He do that? Well a few verses earlier he makes it clear that it is through his being lifted up on a cross--he pays the price for our sin to set us free from it’s bondage.
Watchman Nee tells about a new convert who came in deep distress to see him. "No matter how much I pray, no matter how hard I try, I simply cannot seem to be faithful to my Lord. I think I’m losing my salvation." Nee said, "Do you see this dog here? He is my dog. He is house-trained; he never makes a mess; he is obedient; he is a pure delight to me. Out in the kitchen I have a son, a baby son. He makes a mess, he throws his food around, he fouls his clothes, he is a total mess. But who is going to inherit my kingdom? my dog; my son is my heir. You are Jesus Christ’s heir because it is for you that He died." We are Christ’s heirs, not through our perfection but by means of His grace (ChristianGlobe.com/illustrations).
Now this freedom from sin’s bondage that Christ offers is not freedom to sin, but freedom from sin, not just it’s consequences but also from its slavery. Yes like the new convert in the story we will slip and fall, but because we’re free, we’re still a part of the family and our Father will lovingly guide us on to maturity.
The second mark of God’s children is...
38I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you do what you have heard from your father.£"
39 "Abraham is our father," they answered.
"If you were Abraham’s children," said Jesus, "then you would do the things Abraham did. 40As 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.