They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. You are doing the works your father did.” John 8:39-41
When I was a boy, my father once told me, “The best thing you can do for your health is to choose your parents wisely”. He was certainly right in many respects. I have his recessive chin and my grandfather’s bald head. But I think there is more to his statement than just physical DNA.
My father taught me some great things in my young life, like how to make a really good cup of tea. Some of the things he taught me were not so good. At the end of the day, there is no need for praise or blame for my father. Everything, good or bad, that I learned from him is certainly my responsibility by now.
In our text for today, some Jewish leaders are arguing with Jesus about who their father is. Fatherhood meant something a little different in ancient times than it does now. To have someone as your father meant that you were a smaller copy of him. You shared in your father’s identity, in his attributes, and in his privileges. Having Abraham as their father was extremely important to these leaders. He was a paragon of faith and the recipient of God’s promises.
But Jesus called out these leaders for their true selves. They may have been biologically related to Abraham, but they were certainly not copies of him. If you read between the lines of verse 41, Jesus identifies the Devil as the true father of these men.
Want to know who your father is? Look at how you are living your life. Not happy with what you see? Then you have the ability to change. In this spiritual sense, we actually can choose our father. We can choose who to copy. We can choose who’s life pattern we will follow. We can choose the almighty, omnibenevolent God as the one we want to emulate. Why would we choose anyone else?
This week, throw off whatever inheritance is leading you in negative directions. We can all live as children of God.