Your Father Abraham – John 8

The first book of the New Testament, Matthew, begins like this:

1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.  2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers.  Matthew 1:1-2 ESV

Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and his sons are referred to as the Fathers of the Faith or the Patriarchs.  Jesus referred to them often, and his disciples and the crowds He spoke to were all well acquainted with them, and their importance to the origins of the family of God. 

For example, in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus said:

11 I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.  Matthew 8:11 ESV

Abraham gets a lot of discussion time throughout the New Testament.  Jesus referred to him on multiple occasions, as did Paul in his letters (sometimes called epistles).  The writer of Hebrews includes Abraham in the faith “Hall of Fame” (Chapter 11).  He was clearly a person of great importance in the word of God, but many are not quite sure who he was or why he is so important.

Abraham is important because he is the first to be called out to begin a family of faith in God. His lineage would become the kingly line of Jesus Christ, who would save and justify believers throughout the world from their sin.  Abraham is the father of all believers in God.  If you are a Jewish worshiper, you may have a blood connection to Abraham, but the rest of us are spiritually connected to Abraham by our faith in God.

When Jesus Christ came, He tore down doctrinal walls and unified all believers as one in Himself.

In the New Testament books of Romans and Galatians, the apostle Paul writes how we are all joined as one in faith, after the Man of Faith, Abraham.  We will see how Abraham demonstrated his faith, most notably with his son Isaac at Mt. Moriah, in Genesis 22.  Mount Moriah would later be named the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and is the place where Jesus Christ would be crucified as a divine sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins. 

Jesus had many discussions with his opponents who sought to kill him because he “claimed” to be God and they did not believe Him. One of these discussions centered around Abraham:

31 Jesus said… “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”  34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you.  John 8:31-37 ESV

Jesus, himself a descendant of Abraham through the genealogy, tells us that the power of truth and freedom lie in Christ and His word.  His word becomes alive within us and, with the Holy Spirit, is a “power greater than ourselves”.  

Our practices of sin may have led to any of several forms of addiction, which rob us of our freedom and the joy of life.  Once entrenched, we may be unable to throw off the bondage on our own, and need to rely on a “power greater than ourselves” to break those chains that hold our mind, spirit and body.  Jesus tells us that He is that power, and that the power comes through His word.

Jesus’ opponents were angered by his statements about Abraham and freedom:

53 Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets who died! Who do you make yourself out to be?” 54 Jesus answered… 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” 57 So (they) said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?”  58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” 59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.  John 8:53-57 ESV

Jesus claimed both an intimate personal relationship with Abraham and that He existed even before Abraham.  Furthermore, Jesus used the term “I am,” which his audience knew was the name God revealed about himself to Moses at the burning bush in the desert.  Jesus was referring to himself as God.  Hearing this, those who rejected Jesus were enraged enough to seek to stone him to death.

Later, they would crucify Jesus unto death. But this sacrifice was an essential part of God’s plan of salvation.  The blood of bulls and goats in the Old Testament Jewish ritual sacrifices were important expressions of obedience and faith, but could not truly atone for the sins of mankind, which separate all of us from God.  Only the sacrifice of Jesus Christ could fulfill the requirement of holiness needed to remove our separation from God and make us holy enough to allow His Holy Spirit to reside in us.  The Holy Spirit cleanses us daily, thanks to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the washing of the word of God.

Reflection

Jesus said we must abide in his word.  To “abide” means to “accept or act in accordance with.”  Some synonyms include to obey, observe, follow, uphold, respect and remain.  What does Jesus tell us will happen for us if we do remain in his word (see John 8:31-32 above)?

What areas of obedience do you struggle with the most?  Despite our deepest yearnings and best efforts, we all struggle with sin at one time or another, which strains our relationship with God.  God loves us deeply even when He disapproves of our actions, and always forgives us when we confess to Him and turn away from our sin.  He does not seek to condemn us, but rather to help us turn back to Him and to become a stronger and more fruitful believer.

What steps do we take if we do have an addiction?  First, an honest, open and willing self-appraisal is needed.  If we conclude “yes, we have an addiction”, where can we go to get help to achieve freedom and victory, and to begin joyful living?  We can seek out a safe recovery group, a trusted friend in recovery, an understanding clergy or a qualified professional to help guide us so that we can learn to seek and follow God’s path to freedom.  Jesus often works through other men and women of faith to help us grow and to experience a daily victory in our lives.

Freedom and healing are also available if we experience extreme fear, depression or grief.  We can reach out to others in faith-based support groups to help us overcome in these areas as we reach out for the love Christ has for us.

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