Jesus talks a lot about the Father in the Gospels, but how does he know so much? Where does he get his information? One one occasion, Jesus tells the Pharisees about his special relationship with the Father, and they are furious!
Most of John chapter 8 is devoted to this conversation. Jesus said to the people in the temple courts, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
The Pharisees challenged him saying he had no witness to those claims but himself. Jesus answered that he also has the witness of the Father who sent him. So the Pharisees pressed him by asking, “Where is your father?”
Jesus responded, “You do not know me or my Father…If you knew me, you would know my Father also.”
Who are You?
Later, the subject came up again when Jesus claimed he was not of this world.
“Who are you?” they asked.
“Just what I have been telling you from the beginning,” Jesus replied. “I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is trustworthy, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.”
They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father.
Jesus told them the Father had sent him. The discussion really heated up when the Jews insisted that Abraham was their father and Jesus replied,
“I know that you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word. I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father.”
“Abraham is our father,” they answered.
“If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do what Abraham did. As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. You are doing the works of your own father.”
“We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.”
Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me.”
So the Jews now claim that God is their father. Jesus winds up suggesting their real father is the devil, and they retort that Jesus is a demon-possessed Samaritan.
But what does Jesus mean when he refers to what he has seen ‘in the Father’s presence’? Did he experience the Father’s presence or was he actually WITH the Father? He also says that he heard the truth from God, that he came from God, and that God sent him. This is a lot of information!
Your God is My Father
Finally the Jews asked, “Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?”
And Jesus gives even more key information about his relationship with the Father,
“My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and obey his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”
“You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!”
“Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”
We learn so much from this short exchange. Jesus begins by identifying his Father with the God of the Jews, which is the God of the Old Testament. So it seems that Marcion was mistaken.
Then we hear that Jesus existed before Abraham was ever born! This is a game changer. Whatever Jesus meant by his statement, it certainly sounds like a claim of pre-existence and a relationship with the Father before his birth among the Jews. Jesus is no ordinary man!
Hearing this, Jesus’ challengers did the most natural thing and picked up stones to stone him. We learn quite a bit about Jesus and the Father from this discussion. Next time we will hear what Jesus says about approaching the Father.