They believed their ancestry set them apart and above others. They considered they had superior insight. They were a purer race. They had the right to forcibly impose their will on who they chose, up to and including killing whoever they thought opposed their will. They were confident that any behaviour was justified to ensure continued superiority and power. They rejected kindness as weakness and would truck no difference of opinion. Who could these people be and what type of state would they live in? Is it apartheid South Africa, Nazi Germany, North Korea, the Spanish Inquisition, Communist Rumania, European Colonial Powers? Is it possible that such attitudes could only have prevailed in the ancient past as humans have morally evolved and such attitudes are now universally abhorrent. Sadly, we know this is not true and that no society is immune from this type of influence because the human heart is inherently prone to what the Bible terms sin and this influences not just individuals but societies as a whole.
In fact, I am not meaning a contemporary group even though the listing could go on extensively. I am speaking of the Jewish religious leaders who were the religious aristocracy and were more concerned with protecting their privileges and sense of entitlement than they were in discovering the fulfillment to their own historic prophecies. They claimed their ancestry set them apart and above others John 8.33 as descendants of Abraham. Jesus challenged them over their behaviour and understanding if they claimed to be the offspring of Abraham, making a spiritual distinction to their genetic one. ‘If you were Abraham’s children you would be doing the works Abraham did, but now you seek to kill me. This is not what Abraham did. You are doing the works your father did.’ John 8.29-41 Jesus was making the point that their conduct was the work of the devil not like Abraham who was the Father of faith and the promise of the Messiah. Jesus stood before them having been sent by God the Father, John 8.40 having given them a multitude of signs that he was from God through healing and their response was seeking to kill him. They saw mercy as weakness and were threatened by superior insight into the Old Testament scriptures.
At that point they resorted to what many supremacists do, they made sexual smears as a form of demeaning their enemy. ‘We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father – even God.’ John8.41 The Jewish leaders were trapped in their own dogma and had become incapable of accepting the truth, not for intellectual reasons but because spiritual rejection had hardened their hearts. Jesus words were, ‘If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.’ John 8.46-47
At this point they turned to three additional smears common to supremacists. Racial, spiritual and mental deficiencies. ‘The Jews answered him, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon”?’ Jesus did not directly answer but countered with a crucial issue, whose glory does he seek. The Jewish leaders by implication were seeking their own, he was seeking the Fathers. By attacking him however they were attacking the Father. The bottom line is the true identity of Jesus, they were unable to recognize who Jesus was and is. Jesus could not deny his Father and now spoke plainly about his identity. Although the Jewish leaders claimed the Father as God they were unable to recognize his works. ‘It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, “He is our God”. But you have not known him. I know him.’ John 8.54-55 Jesus then openly confessed his divinity by using for himself the holy name of God. ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.’ John 8.58
Have we searched ourselves to see if there are any spiritual or other forms of arrogance within us?
Does our own seeking after glory obstruct our vision of God’s glory?
Do we actively oppose all forms of supremacy within our society?