Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
The message of Jesus Christ is one of grace and peace and more: love and mercy of God. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have eternal life." (John 3.16). That is it.
So why there are people who reject Christ and hate? In our text for today, some Jews, religious men, descendants of Abraham, whom God made the promise of a Savior, made fun of Jesus and would have killed him.
"Which of you convicts me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is of God hears God's words, why do you not hear, because you are not of God." The question Jesus' posed to His enemies presupposes that they had searched for evidence of conduct unbecoming a teacher or prophet against the Lord. They found nothing to refute His arguments, nor found some sin in His life. Thus it becomes clear that the cause of their unbelief lay not in words or in the life of Christ, but in the hardness of their hearts.
These Jews had vehemently rejected the idea of their idolatry and had emphatically insisted that they were sons of God, who belonged to the people of God by right. But now Jesus showed them that God can not be their Father. Because if that relationship remained, then they would not fail to love Him Who had been begotten from eternity by the Father. He did not come on a mission of His own, but God had sent Him.
You remember, last Sunday talking about the two religions, that of justification by good works and that of justification by faith alone. God has revealed His Law, His will for our lives in the Ten Commandments. His Word assures us that they who keep His commandments will be blessed, because that is God's design.
However, since the fall of Adam, no one has fulfilled the Law of God, only Jesus Christ. This is the Gospel, that Christ fulfilled the Law, suffered and died in our place to pay the price of our sins. In His death and resurrection, we have the promise of eternal life.
Therefore, the Law serves to let us know that we are sinners (Romans 3:20), that we need a Savior. But the old Adam, the sinful nature, is proud. All men, as a result of the inheritance of sin, are slaves to sin and the devil, because they are in the devil's power and are forced to do his will. He who rejects Christ, the Savior, and constantly refuses to accept His word, in him the devil delights, as he does in all things that are opposed to the good will and the grace of God. The natural man prefers a religion of good works, his own good works, and does not want a Savior. Unrepentant sinners not want to hear what God has done for us, so they hate Christ and His followers.
"Then answered the Jews and said unto him, Say we not well that you are a Samaritan, and have a devil?" The words of Jesus cut to the quick these proud Jews. And since they could not contradict His word, by conscience they were forced to admit its truth. And so they turned to mockery and abuse. They call Him a Samaritan. The Samaritans were half-breeds, a mixture of Jews and foreigners, and their beliefs were a mixture of the teachings of the Old Testament and other ideas. Here the Jews accuse Jesus of like the Samaritans, an illegitimate son born of fornication, and a heretic possessed by evil spirits. That is the pattern and style of unbelievers of all times, when they realize they have no arguments against the truth, then they resort to slander and blasphemy.
But Jesus did not reject the Samaritans, but rather He preached the Gospel to them and healed their diseases. By calling Jesus a Samaritan, His enemies accused Him of associating with people who were marginalized, seen as rabble, riffraff and outcasts. But Jesus did not reject the designation as a friend of publicans, sinners and Samaritans. Jesus only denied the charge of heresy and declared that He was honoring his Father in all His works and words.
But we should not conclude from this that the abuse was a matter of indifference,and that they would not receive their punishment. God the Father Almighty who is very concerned about the honor and glory of His Son, will judgment on those who casually abuse the Lord. The condemnation that the blasphemers of Christ bring upon themselves will be terrible beyond human comprehension. As Jesus said to them solemnly, that a man who keeps His saying, diligently attending to His words, His Gospel, and applies it to his life without reservation or unbelief, will not suffer eternal death. Temporal death shall have no terrors for him, just be the door and the entrance to eternal life.
Jesus answered, "If I honor Myself, My honor is nothing: it is My Father that honors Me; of whom you say, that He is your God: Yet you have not known Him; but I know Him: and if I should say, I know Him not, I shall be a liar like you: but I know Him, and keep His saying. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day: and he saw it, and was glad." The assurance of eternal life to those who believe in Jesus was beyond the comprehension of the Jews, and increased their anger and resentment because Jesus claimed such power for Himself. They concluded rightly that the Lord here claimed to possess supernatural attributes. So they repeated the blasphemy that He was possessed by an evil spirit. They understood Him to be speaking of physical death, and since they assumed that Jesus was a mere man, and certainly less important than Abraham and the prophets, they felt that He attributed to himself powers that were completely out of reach. If Abraham and the prophets had died, He certainly could not speak confidently of granting release from death.
But Jesus insisted that He had the blessing of His Father. God would never allow an unworthy man to arrogate privileges that properly belong to Him alone. But in this case, God himself was giving evidence on every hand in favor of His Son, in His preaching and His miracles. And Jesus offered a bit of proof that He is greater than Abraham. For this patriarch, who was His father after the flesh, was filled with joy, exulting in the fact that he would someday know the promised Messiah. The wonderful promises that God had made concerning the Messiah filled his heart with indescribable joy. Thus did Abraham see Jesus, the Savior, by faith, and died in happy confidence in Him.
Full of indignation, the unbelieving Jews cried to Him: You are not yet 50 years old, and you have seen Abraham? Jesus repeated the idea with an unusually strong statement, before Abraham was, He is, therefore affirming His existence from eternity. Our Saviour, the humble and despised Jesus of Nazareth is the eternal God. That is our comfort, knowing that the eternal God has delivered us from eternal damnation. That the eternal God suffered for long hours on the cross, to overthrow the power of hell and damnation.
But this was too much for the Jews, who could no longer contain themselves, they picked up stones to put him to death for what they considered blasphemy. But their murderous intent was to no avail. Christ went on to the cross where He defeated the anger and hatred of the world and the devil for us.
Therefore, we are the true children of Abraham, because we have the knowledge of the promised Saviour. But we must learn from the example of the Jews od ancient times to avoid pride in our own righteousness and rely only on what God has done for us in Christ.
May the peace that passes all understanding be with you forever. Amen.
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