It’s always been a puzzle to me as to why the religious leaders of Jesus’ day did not recognize Him. One would naturally expect those who were so learned in the scriptures to immediately embrace Him. For years they had poured over prophecies concerning the Messiah. Yet when he stood in their midst, they did not know him. How can we account for it? Jesus provides us with four answers to our question:
1. They did not believe in the Word of God “I know that you are descendants of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me, because my word finds no place in you” (John 8:37). It is one thing to know the word of God, and another to believe it. They wanted to destroy the thing that was convicting and bothering them, for sin cannot tolerate that which exposes it. If they had been without sin, if they had been the true sons of Abraham in the highest spiritual sense, they would have believed in Jesus.
2 They did not do the works of God “They answered him, ‘Abraham is our father.’ Jesus said to them, ‘If you were Abraham’s children, you would do what Abraham did”‘ (John 8:39). Abraham was a man of faith and obedience who received the truth and acted upon it. He did the works of God. In the words of Dr. Frank Pack, “Actually, they were not following Abraham, even though they liked to think they were. They were seeking to do what Abraham would never have done: they were seeking to kill Jesus, the true seed of Abraham. All that Jesus had done was to tell them the truth which I heard from God. Abraham loved God and faithfully followed his truth.”
3. They did not love God “Jesus said to them, If God were your Father, you would love me, for I proceeded and came forth from God; I came not of my own accord, but he sent me” (John 8:42). Their failure to love Christ was evidence of their true nature, for if they were in Abraham’s succession, love for and recognition of the Messiah would be present.
4. They were not of God “He who is of God hears the words of God; the reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God” (John 8:47). The Jews were advocates of God and custodians of Scripture, yet they did not know God. That’s scary because here lies a dreadful possibility for modern man. We may have inherited religious traditions and been placed in a religious environment without ever becoming children of God. Merely saying that we are Christians doesn’t make it so. There must be true faith and obedience in our lives.
As one writer has so well said, “Religion is no guarantee of salvation.”
— John Gipson; lakesidechurchofchrist.com