The Jews were shackled in bondage to Rome, but even if some conqueror were to set them free, they’d still be slaves to sin (John 8:34). But if the Son would set them free, they would be “free indeed” (v.36).
Men are “lawful captives” to sin (Isa. 49:24), so how could the Lord set them free? If you set a lawful captive free, it makes you a lawbreaker. So how did the Lord lawfully set us free? By dying and paying for our sins! You know His life story, He never committed any jailbreaks. It was in this way He proclaimed liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to them that were bound (Isa.61:1).
The Jews were Abraham’s seed (John 8:37), but they sought to kill the Lord. Why? Because His word found “no place” in them, even though they’d believed on Him (v.30). They didn’t “continue” to believe (v.31), in fact, they soon tried to kill Him (v.59). They were examples of seed that fell on the rock, “which for a while believe” (Luke 8:13), but the seed found “no place” to root in the rock.
People could tell who the Lord’s father was by the things that He said, and they could tell who the father of these Jews were by the things that they did (John 8:38).
Next, the Lord tries to tell them who their father is, but they interrupt Him (v.38,39). He refuses to believe they were Abraham’s children, even though He acknowledged they were his seed (v.37). What’s the difference? We are all the “offspring” or seed of God (Acts 17:28 cf. Luke 3:38), but to be God’s children they had to act like God (Mt.5:44,45), which they weren’t doing. You couldn’t even be a daughter of Abraham’s wife unless you behaved! (IPe.3:6).
But instead of behaving, these Jews were trying to kill Him, so the Lord reminds them Abraham would never kill an innocent man (John 8:40). In saying “ye do the deeds of your father” (v.41), He was again trying to tell them who their father was, but again they cut Him off.
In saying they weren’t born of fornication, they were implying that He was (v.41). Or else they thought He was implying they were idolaters, for idolaters were called children of fornication (Isa. 57:3-5). This would explain why they added, “we have one Father, even God” (John 8:41). But the Lord knew better than to imply that, for the Babylonian captivity had cured Israel of that sin. And He wasn’t about to let them get away with saying their father was God (v.42).
Why couldn’t they hear His word (v.43)? Was it because, as our Calvinist brethren say, they were too dead in sin to hear? No, they couldn’t hear His word because they wouldn’t hear it, just as Joseph’s brethren “couldn’t” speak peaceably to him because they wouldn’t (Gen.37:3,4). So great was their envy and hatred, they couldn’t speak peaceably to him, and so great was the Jews envy and hatred of Him, they couldn’t hear the Lord’s word.
The Lord finally succeeds in telling them who their father is (John 8:44). The devil was not a murderer from the beginning of his creation, for God created him a good angel. He was a murderer from the beginning of the human race, for he killed Adam by enticing him to do something that meant certain death. In addition, George Washington was the father of our country because he was the first president, and Satan was the father of lies because he told the first lie when he told Eve, “thou shalt not surely die.”
The Jews accused the Lord of many things, such as being a winebibber and a glutton and breaking the Sabbath, and blasphemy. Getting a little tired of all these accusations, the Lord challenged them by asking which of them could convince or convict Him of sin (John 8:46).
They certainly couldn’t convict Him of lying, and yet they refused to believe Him (v.46). This was like when He asked them if the baptism of John was from heaven or of men. They didn’t dare say “of men,” for they feared the people, but they couldn’t say “from heaven,” for He’d say, “Why didn’t you then believe him? Here He asked, “If you can’t convict me of lying, why don’t you believe Me?”