Jesus Fights with Religious Leaders for Us (Part 1)

Reading Time: 6 Minutes

The loving purpose of Jesus’ arguments

John 8.39-41aThey answered him, “Abraham is our father.”

Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing what Abraham did, 40 but now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. 41 You are indeed doing what your father does.”

Jeremiah makes a very insightful point about our inside condition.

“The heart is more deceitful than all else
And is desperately sick;
Who can understand it?”
(Jeremiah 17.9)

Our ability to deceive ourselves is profound. I don’t have to look anywhere beyond my own inner self. I think of myself as this wonderful, kind, wise person. Not so, unfortunately!

In this discussion with the religious leaders, Jesus reminds me to look at my behavior. My behavior – the way I live my life – tells the real story of my life.

Let’s give the religious leaders who were so angry with Jesus a break. At least, they took Jesus seriously, even though they wanted to kill him.

We claim to love Jesus. Do we take his words seriously? Is our relationship with Jesus making a difference in our behavior? Do we see the world the way our friend, Jesus, sees it? If so, what are we doing about it?

Taking Inventory

John 8.41b-43They said to him, “We are not illegitimate children; we have one father, God himself.”

42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now I am here. I did not come on my own, but he sent me. 43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot accept my word.”

Focus on verse 43: “Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot accept my word.”

Our inability to see what God is doing in the world today is rooted in our unwillingness to accept Jesus’ word to us. I see two issues here.

(1) We don’t know Jesus’ word, because we are content with short devotional thoughts. Devotionals that can be read in five minutes are okay, but prayerfully reading chapters of the Bible will give us a fuller picture of what God is saying to us at this time.

(2) We can’t accept Jesus’ words, because they don’t fit our own desires. In my own life, I have to struggle for days or longer to get my own self-will out of the way when I am trying to determine God’s will. Only when self-will is finally pushed to the side, can I hear what God wants me to know.

Deeper Trouble

John 8.44-47“You are from your father the devil, and you choose to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. 46 Which of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? 47 Whoever is from God hears the words of God. The reason you do not hear them is that you are not from God.”

Dr. Scott Peck is a psychiatrist who is best known for his book, The Road Less Traveled. He has written a lesser known book on the subject of evil. In that book he claims that the worst evil is cloaked in good. For example, a priest or a pastor harms children and preaches about God’s love on Sunday. What evil!

Jesus confronted these religious leaders with the fact that they were not serving God, but the devil.

Notice what Jesus says in verse 44. When we lie to ourselves and others about the truth of our inside condition, we are joining forces with the devil. The deceptive heart that Jeremiah describes is a trick of the devil.

As long as we are living in the self-deception of self-will, we will not be able to hear the words of God.

Your Turn

This is a very confrontational message today. Please join me in working with the Holy Spirit to rid our lives of self-centered and willful thinking. Ask the Spirit to reveal areas of self-deception, so we can best hear Jesus and obey his voice.

Today’s Prayer

Dear Jesus, thank you for confronting us with our own self-deception. Please reveal to us our own inside condition, so we can better cooperate with you in what you are doing in the world.


  1. Dealing with free will is a tricky business, in fact, it breaks my heart how often I pick mine over Jesus’. Truly there is only one strategy and it is the exchange of our will for the Father’s. That is not an impossible task, however, it’s one that has to be made with every decision. That’s the problem we think the small ones are so small we can handle them. No one thinks that a good relationship can be built in silence, the one with Jesus requires communication too. Asking for His Will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven is the place to start. May the LORD speak loudly to us all and grant us the courage to follow HIm.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you for sharing Bob. Lots to digest. I love your challenge to work with the Holy Spirit to uncover and uproot the lies inside of us so we can listen to and follow Jesus.

    For those interested, the staff of Maywood is going to start doing a short nightly responses to this blog (live streaming at 7pm) on our facebook page:

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I do ask for the Holy Spirit to examine me and show me where I need to get rid of me. I love the title of this – Jesus is always fighting for us – but how often do we fight for Him? Fight ourselves. Fight our will. This is an excellent time for us to get deep into His words and see where we can fight for Him. Where He has already won the battles – we just have to get ourselves out of the way. Spring clean my heart, Lord.

    Liked by 1 person

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