The Puppet Master


John 8:44–47

“You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God.”

Time out. Isn’t Jesus talking to the same people who were identified in verse 31 as “those Jews who believed Him”? Now He says, “But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me.” The timbre of this conversation doesn’t make sense—at least not as it sounds in English. If I had been there, I would have walked out long before this point. Yet they’re not leaving. What am I missing?

Remember, Jesus said, in verse 37, “You seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you.”

If I had been standing there hearing this, I would think the word “you” means that He’s talking to me, as if He said, “Each and every one of you wants to kill Me.” If that’s how the crowd took it, they would have already walked. Once again, we can learn a lot about what something means from the crowd’s reaction.

In English, there are many different flavors of the word you: you all, y’all, all y’all, you people, some of you, etc. In the Greek here, it’s plural. It might best be translated as “you people,” but in modern English, that has an unfortunate, nasty connotation. So, translators just leave it as “you.”

But the desire to kill Jesus can’t be the exact sentiment of every individual in the crowd. Thus, the word “you” doesn’t mean each person individually; it’s a group reference. The “Jews” are trying to kill Him, even if only a tiny percentage actually are.

So, forget the seemingly harsh tone; that’s just a distraction. What’s Jesus’s point here?

It’s the connection with the devil. Jesus already pointed out how sin is slavery. Now He adds an element to who is the puppet-master.

The slavery is directly to sin itself—we are slaves to sin—but sin doesn’t have an agenda. The devil does.

And that agenda is deception and murder. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Remember, in the garden of Eden his goal was death.

So, yet again, Jesus is raising the volume. Not believing Jesus means being a stooge of the devil.

Christians almost never talk about spiritual warfare anymore. Thus, we play into the hands of the enemy.

The result is that we are constantly surprised by how things go wrong. We choose to be oblivious to what’s going on behind the scenes.

All warfare is based on deception. — Sun Tzu

These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Saturday DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.