Who’s Your Father?

The question of Jesus’ authority to make the claims He made became increasingly a matter of debate as He approached the cross. And, the more He made it clear that His authority came from the Father, the more the religious leaders wanted to kill Him for blasphemy. John 8 is the account of a number of such encounters that happened in Jerusalem just months before the crucifixion. In this passage we see Jesus not only claim His own unique relationship to the heavenly Father, but He clearly shows the way in which we may know who our father is.

As Jesus made assertions regarding the truthfulness of His testimony, He spoke of the witness of the Father to His claims. When the Pharisees asked where was His father, Jesus responded that if they knew Him, they would know His Father (John 8:12-59). Another time when the religious leaders asserted their family lineage connected them to Father Abraham, Jesus chided them that if they were Abraham’s children they would not try to kill Him. He added that if God was their Father, they would love Jesus. But, Jesus concluded that their murderous desires demonstrated their real parentage, the devil, for “He was a murderer from the beginning” (John 8:44).

According to Jesus, all of mankind has one of two spiritual fathers – the heavenly Father or the devil. While there is neither DNA nor blood testing (although we are blood bought) to prove our relationship to the heavenly Father, there are ways in which His parentage is demonstrated. Let me suggest a few.

From the John 8 text, we see that belief in Jesus is evidence of relationship. Negatively Jesus said, “if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.” (John 8:24, NIV). He went on to say that the reason He had the right to judge unbelief was because of His relationship to the Father and that: I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me (John 8:27, NIV). Ultimately, Jesus predicted that His resurrection would verify this relationship. He also suggested to the unbelievers of His day that the reason they did not believe in Him was that they were deceived by the father of lies, the devil.

44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! (John 8:44-45, NIV)

Secondly, Jesus said, He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God. (John 8:47, NIV). Hearing from God is another indicator of a relationship to the heavenly Father. Paul spoke of the unique dynamic of spiritual communication, in that, without the Spirit – the seal of relationship – spiritual communication cannot be understood by natural men (1 Corinthians 2:13-14). The Parable of the Soils (Mark 4:1-20) is a lesson on how one hears the Gospel, with Jesus’ conclusion of the parable: “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (v. 9).

While this list is not exhaustive, I conclude by looking back at our text from Sunday. In Romans 8:13-17, we considered the Spirit’s role in confirming in the life of the believer that God is our heavenly Father. Paul begins that section by saying, if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God (Romans 8:13-14, NIV) . The leadership of the Spirit gives us confirmation that we are the children of God, as well as being the empowerment within us to mortify the fleshly desires. The Spirit’s leading also brings us intimacy with the Father, so that we can call Him the equivalent of “Daddy.”


Who is your Father? Are you able to say with certainty that you believe in Jesus Christ’s claims to be the Son of God, Redeemer and Judge? Do you hear God’s voice, speaking to you through His Word? And is their evidence of the Spirit’s indwelling presence, Who gives you: the power to live; a growing intimacy with the heavenly Father; an assurance in your spirit that you are a child of God; and the certainty that you are an heir of God and co-heir with Jesus Christ? If not, I challenge you to seek that confirmation. In John’s letter, he said:

11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.
(1 John 5:11-13, NIV)

No Condemnation

Romans 8 begins with the incredible statement “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” These are some of the most liberating words found in the entire Bible. But they can only be fully appreciated by those who have come to realize they deserved a death sentence. To this point in Romans, Paul has made it clear that Jew and Gentile alike, deserve that eternal condemnation:

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…For the wages of sin is death… (Romans  3:23, 6:23a, NIV)

Imagine you are awaiting the execution of the death sentence. Barabbas was one such man; a convicted insurrectionist, who was condemned to die on a Roman cross in Jerusalem. His execution was deserved according to the Roman law for he had incited rebellion against Roman rule.[1]  Barabbas, as a Zealot, was a religious man in a sect of Judaism that held a high view of the Law and nationalism – so high, in fact, that they sought to rid their land of the pagan Romans by force.  Viewed through our modern lens, we could equate Barabbas with today’s religious terrorists. He, like they, believed the cause to be righteous. Nevertheless, civil law had been violated and Barabbas was condemned.

However, when Jesus was brought before Pilate, the Roman governor had a dilemma: either sentence an innocent man and appease the Jews, or release Jesus and incite the crowd. He chose a method that let him off the hook by invoking a custom of releasing a criminal of the Jews’ pleasing. The crowd chose Barabbas! We are not told of Barabbas’ reaction to the crowds’ choice of Jesus Christ for crucifixion instead of him. Certainly, it was one of great relief as he was the first to realize those words, “no condemnation,” in association to Jesus Christ. We can only hope that Barabbas embraced the true sense of the meaning by coming into relationship with Jesus Christ. However, if he did not – if he continued to pursue his own path of righteousness – he only experienced a reprieve.

Do we really appreciate those words, “no condemnation”? Even after having received the gift of salvation, I need to remind myself of the abject depravity from which I was saved. Thus, Paul’s lament, ” What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24, NIV), garners a greater appreciation towards God when we realize:

1  Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.                                                                                                        (Romans 8:1-2, NIV)

Not only do these words bring relief, but they bring security. While life in the Spirit is a theme of this chapter, the security of the believer is a predominant theme, too. We have the assurance of not being put in “double jeopardy” because Christ has once and for all paid the penalty for our sins, bringing “no condemnation” and nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39, NIV). HALLELUJAH!

Your Response:  If you have made a spiritual inventory (as suggested last week), be sure to take time to dwell on the fact that Christ no longer holds you guilty for your sins as you have trusted in Him!

  • Have you failed in a marriage?…He does not condemn you!
  • Are you struggling to overcome some hang up?…He does not condemn you!
  • Have you made wrong choices in the past?…He does not condemn you!
  • Do you have a criminal record (as Barabbas)?…He does not condemn you!
Take some time to read and reread Chapter 8, highlighting the repeated words: Spirit, sin(ful), life, death. Write out the contrasts that you see.

1  The word used to describe Barabbas as “robber” in John 18:40 is the same word the Jewish historian, Josephus, used to describe the Zealots.