"If you were Abraham's children, then you would do the things Abraham did. As it is, you are determined 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 things your own father does." (John 8:39-41)

Here Jesus is responding to the Jewish pharisees who said to him:
"Abraham is our father." (John 8:39)
Here the Greek word πατήρ (patēr) is being comparatively used. According to the Greek lexicon, πατήρ (patēr) can refer to one's direct physical father, an ancestor, a guide or spiritual leader, or the Supreme Being, depending upon its context.

The pharisees are referring to Abraham as their spiritual leader. Jesus, however, is criticizing that position because if the pharisees were following Abraham, they would be following Abraham’s example. In this case, Jesus clarifies, they would not be persecuting Jesus. Instead, Jesus says the pharisees are following the ways of their physical fathers, rather than their supposed spiritual leader, Abraham.

If they were following Abraham as their spiritual leader, Jesus indicates, they would follow Abraham's example. What did Abraham do?
"Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there he called upon the Name of the LORD, the Eternal God. And Abraham stayed in the land of the Philistines for a long time." (Gen. 21:33-34)
What does it mean to "call upon the name of the LORD"? It means to praise God's Holy Names, in song or prayer or otherwise. While the praising of God's Holy Names is professed throughout the scriptures, Biblical scholars tend to overlook the importance of this practice. Why? Because they also have not followed Abraham's example. Yet this was the central element of Abraham's life. He was focused upon his relationship with God. He praised God's Holy Names. He loved God and he served God.

Next Jesus describes himself as, "a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God" in relation to Abraham. What does this say? This indicates that Jesus is doing what is pleasing to Abraham. He is speaking about God. He is praising God. He is trying to help people remember and focus upon God.

It is interesting that Jesus says that the pharisees are "determined to kill me." This indicates very clearly that the pharisees were threatened by Jesus. Why were they threatened? Because Jesus was speaking the Truth about God. In contrast, the intent of the pharisees was to use God (and His representatives like Abraham) to maintain their power and positions of authority.

This is because Jesus had real power and authority. His authority, as he indicates clearly, was not his own, but came from God. "The truth that I heard from God" is a clear statement. It does not indicate that Jesus was God. It clearly indicates that Jesus was God's representative.

Anyone who delivers a message they have heard from someone else is a messenger. Because they are speaking the words of someone else, they are the messenger and thus the representative of that person. Jesus was clearly God's messenger and representative. From his own words we can know this. And what was Jesus' "first and greatest" instruction?
“ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matt. 22:37-38)


(For a more appropriate translation of Jesus' statement, see the Devotional Translation of the Gospel of John Chapter Eight - translated from the original Greek texts without ecclesiastical sectarian influence.)