The Truth Hurts
John 8:39-40 (39) They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham. (40) But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham. Jesus was countering the gainsaying of the Pharisees here (JOH 8:13). They had obviously not taken to heart the rebuke of John the Baptist about the perceived value of a claimed pedigree from Abraham: (Matthew 3:7) But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? (Matthew 3:8) Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: (Matthew 3:9) And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. A generation of vipers, John called them---serpent seed; the poison of asps was under their lips (ROM 3:13), the same lips which pretended to honor God (MAT 15:8). Their father, as Jesus here tells them (JOH 8:41-44), was not God in a spiritual sense nor Abraham in an imitative sense; they were of their father the devil, Satan the Serpent (REV 12:9), their natural Abrahamic genealogy notwithstanding. They did the lust of their father, not the works of Abraham, a righteous man whose faith was prior and superior to his circumcision (ROM 4:11-12), and who rejoiced to see Christ's day (JOH 8:56). But Christ mentions another positive attribute of faithful Abraham in our text (and one which I must confess I have not zeroed in on before). Jesus here describes Himself as a man who spoke truth which he had heard from God---a thing which elicited a murderous design against him by the Pharisees and “...this did not Abraham.” The truth of God can make believers free (JOH 8:31-32) and make unbelievers foes: “Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth” (GAL 4:16)? Wicked men hate its light (JOH 3:19-20) and would rather turn it into a lie than submit to it (ROM 1:25). Truth is especially provocative when it rips the cover off of our sin or reproves us, and how we react to those offices of truth says more about us than our professed love of truth. Truth, like iodine, only stings where there is a cut. Unlike these Pharisees, Abraham was reproved by truth which a man heard from God and had a godly response. Abraham and Sarah sojourned in Gerar where Abraham, as he had done previously to the Egyptians (GEN 12:10-20) represented Sarah as his sister (a half-truth by omission) to Abimelech (GEN 20:2). “But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man's wife” (GEN 20:3). Abimelech (whose name according to Brown-Driver-Briggs' Hebrew Definitions means, “my father is king”) took this truth which he heard from God and reproved Abraham, “...thou hast done deeds unto me that ought not to be done...” (GEN 20:9-10). Rather than hate the man and seek his death, Abraham humbly explained his reasoning (GEN 20:11-13) and then, “So Abraham prayed unto God: and God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his maidservants; and they bare children. For the LORD had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarah Abraham's wife” (GEN 20:17-18). This did Abraham when truth cut across his grain. Jesus, whose Father was also king, reproved these Pharisees with truth he had heard from God and they sought to kill him. This did not Abraham! Proverbs says much about the value of reproof or rebuke and how that one's reaction to either is tell-tale: (Proverbs 6:23) For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life: (Proverbs 9:7) He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame: and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot. (Proverbs 9:8) Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee. (Proverbs 13:1) A wise son heareth his father's instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke. (Proverbs 15:12) A scorner loveth not one that reproveth him: neither will he go unto the wise. (Proverbs 25:12) As an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear. (Proverbs 12:1) Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish. (Proverbs 15:5) A fool despiseth his father's instruction: but he that regardeth reproof is prudent. (Proverbs 15:10) Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way: and he that hateth reproof shall die. (Proverbs 15:32) He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding. (Proverbs 17:10) A reproof entereth more into a wise man than an hundred stripes into a fool. But then someone will say, “But I would never think of killing someone who ticked me off with a rebuke!” But what if you hate them for it? “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him” (1JO 3:15). Which are you when someone speaks the truth from God which reproves you: Abraham or Pharisee? Submissive or subversive? Humble or hateful? Abraham was the “father” of a number of things, including: many nations (GEN 17:5), circumcision (ROM 4:12), and all believers (ROM 4:11). And by the measure of today's text, he was also a model father of those who react properly to godly reproof. David was obviously one of his “children” in this regard: (Psalms 141:5) Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head: for yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities. The truth hurts---where and when it needs to do so, thank God!