Verses 31-59 focus on Jesus revealing the heart attitudes of His listeners. Verse 30 indicates that many believed; but, from their response to the rest of Jesus' Words, I don't know how many were truly converted. First thing Jesus points out that those who truly love Him obey Him (which can be hard for us old sinners to take). We want to love Him and still do things our own way.
The advantage to knowing and obeying His teachings is that we will then "know the Truth, and the Truth will set us free. (v32)" I always like to capitalize the word Truth. Because I think Truth is a Person, the Person of Jesus Christ. So, as we get to know Him, we know Truth better. And as we know what is true, we know Him better.
Obeying also frees us: from our slavery to sin. "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed! (v36)"
All this was very confusing to the Jews who were listening. They thought they had 'the corner' on truth. They were the children of Abraham for crying out loud! Jesus was telling them that while they were offspring of Abraham by physical descent, their spirits were offspring of their father, the devil. As you might imagine, they were deeply offended, and the more He talked, the more they wanted to kill Him. Jesus even says, "you seek to kill Me because My Word finds no place in you. (v37)" and "you seek to kill Me, a Man Who has told you the truth. (v40)" We don't often think of Jesus in these terms, deliberately being an irritant to a person. But truth irritates sin whether it means to or not. Just being in the Presence of Holiness is hard to take when we are so far from holy ourselves. I'm glad I am at peace with God now and do not have to feel this way.
Jesus' point was that Abraham believed God; and, that since these people were not believing Him, they could not be offspring of Abraham's heart. As usual He is very blunt. "Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my Word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. Which one of you convicts Me of sin? 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. (vv43-47)" OUCH!!!
This made them so mad that they accused Him of being demon-possessed. This conversation continues on for a little while longer until Jesus says something that astounds them even further. "Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see My day. He saw it and was glad. (v56)"
With incredulity they say, "You are not yet 50 years old, and have You seen Abraham?"
Then the cru-de-graw: "Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.' (v58)"
His use of God's special Name for Himself pushed them right over the edge, and they started trying to stone them. I say 'try' because "Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple. (v59)"
Things were heating up in Jerusalem. And the next story will only add fuel to the fire, for belief or for fury.