“You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:44
That might seem a little harsh of Jesus. I mean isn’t Jesus our buddy and pal? How could He talk to people like that? If we put it into context, Jesus is in the middle of a discussion about truth. It was right after His infamous sound byte that most people are familiar with, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)
What the group of religious people didn’t realize was that they had been lied to. They thought that the heart of the gospel was discipline and outward obedience. They’d reassure themselves by telling each other, “Doesn’t God want us to be good people? How could being extra good be wrong? Let’s be as good as we possibly can!” That doesn’t sound all of that bad does it? It’s a lot better than intentionally hurting people and embracing a destructive lifestyle right?
For context, Jesus had just finished telling them and everyone around them that they were slaves. The Pharisees didn’t really like that. You see they had been lied to and they didn’t even know it yet. They were slaves to a way of relating to God that actually put Him at a distance. The lie is that you can be good outwardly and God will love you more and you can earn a path to heaven. All lies. God loves you unconditionally and wants a relationship with you through Jesus. That would mean that the Pharisees would have to abandon their religious practices that they had invested years and years of self-denial and of studying the law. What a waste!!!
These lies had seeped in like a poisonous gas, undetected, and it had affected them without their knowledge. Here’s the kicker, we might be tempted at this point to target the Pharisees as the ultimate enemy! They have changed God’s plan for humanity, misled hundreds of people, created a pace of life that is unsustainable for most people and driven them farther away from God! Not only that, they are actively pursuing Jesus and will even take a shot at his mom in John 8:41 by saying “We are not illegitimate children.” winking an eye to His virgin birth. Rumors were still circulating at the time about who Jesus’ father REALLY was. Low blow Pharisees, low blow.
I mean think about it. The last time someone took a shot at YOUR mom, which was probably in Middle School, how did you feel? Jesus would have been justified in making them the enemy. His disciples wouldn’t have batted an eye if He had made a hole open up underneath these guys and made them disappear. However, in this paragraph he points to the root of the issue. The root of the issue isn’t religion, or a people group or even a philosophy of life. The enemy, at a very basic level, is Satan and his lies. These people are simply under the influence and control of that power.
As followers of Jesus, we are under the same challenge. Maybe it is people that are taking shots at what you believe. They are in awe at your stupidity in following a dead guy that supposedly performed miracles. They can’t believe you’d waste time reading an antiquated book full of fairy tales. It could be that someone who has been wounded and damaged is hurting you. You know, hurting people hurt right? It could be as simple as an argument that you had at home with your spouse. Don’t forget, we all get lied to. We all get misled. Those lies seep in like a poisonous gas. The best we can do is cling to the truths that Jesus spoke of and lived out. The more we reflect that example of love the better.