“You can’t deny him, can you?!”
I heard these words first as a child. A man was talking to my dad and that’s what he said. I didn’t understand and later, I asked my dad why he said that. My dad smiled and said, “You look just like me and without saying a word, everyone would know you are my son.”
It’s true. Even today, I look at my hands and I see my dad. I can hear my voice and hear his voice. I can laugh and I hear his laugh. I can’t deny him either.
But am I only a son of Wiley Dorman because of biology or is there more? Do I only carry his last name or do I also carry something of who he is? He is my dad. He has shaped me in ways I can’t even describe. And I can tell you, being Wiley Dorman’s son is more than biology. It’s how I was forged.
Jesus had just told the crowd He was speaking about those who are His disciples are those who obey Him (John 8:31-32). We pick up the story in John 8:33-38.
They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word. I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father.”John 8:33-38
New International Version
In response to Jesus’ claims that the truth of what He says will set them free (John 8:32), the Jews take Him literally. They claim they’re not slaves and therefore do not need deliverance.
Jesus corrected them. They were slaves, slaves to sin. Then Jesus connects this imagery to the practice of human slavery.
Before we go too far into this, we need to understand that slavery is a terrible practice. In the times of Jesus (and extending into the Old Testament), slavery was almost always economical. If people owed money they could not pay, they were made slaves of their creditors or to a creditor willing to purchase their debt (and thereby buying their service). As such, they were not to be mistreated. But they were enslaved until they paid off their debt or until the seventh year of their enslavement (Exodus 21:2).
With this understanding, Jesus uses this Biblical understanding to illustrate His point. A slave is not a member of the (Jewish) household. They will eventually be sent home. But if anyone (slave or otherwise) were adopted by the family, he became a son.
Once a boy or man was adopted into a family, he also obtained the full rights of a son. Among other benefits, it offered him a right to be executor of the authority of the father.
Jesus acknowledges their biologically heritage, but corrects their misunderstanding regarding their spiritual heritage (verse 37). Yes, they were the biological descendants of Abraham, but they were not his spiritual descendants. If so, they would have accepted the word of Jesus and received Him as their Messiah. We’ll look at that more next week in the next section.
Jesus is using the Father/Son imagery not only to express His relationship to God the Father, but also His authority to speak on His behalf. The freedom Jesus offers is the freedom offered from God the Father.
Do you hear the voice of Jesus calling you? Have you been reading these blogs for a while and feel the warmth of your soul responding to Jesus?
Have you called on Him for salvation? Today can be your day!
I suggest you can pray a prayer like this:
Lord Jesus, I admit I am broken by my sin and I am sorry. I believe you are sent from God the Father and as His Son, died for my sin. I believe you rose again and now are calling me to salvation in You. With my lips I make this confession: You are my Lord. I surrender my life to you, today and forever. Amen!
If you prayed that prayer, will you drop me a line? I’d love to celebrate with you and help you take the next steps towards Jesus. This includes finding a Gospel-centered, Bible-teaching, life-giving church to call home.
May people see you this week and say, “You can’t deny Jesus, can you?! You act just like Him.”