In the earlier part of John, we met a misfit woman. Prior to this adulteress woman scene, Jesus was teaching in the temple courts. He was ministering to the “sheep,” but was disrupted by evil people trying to trap Him. He graciously paused His teaching to minister to a woman in sin, along with the looming lost crowd. Then, He went right back to teaching again. Even though conflict and disruption are all around Jesus, He never lets it disrupt His ministry. Jesus is never disturbed. He is divinely interrupted and uses that opportunity to bring glory to God.
As we continue through John 8 and celebrate SONday (Resurrection Sunday), these latter verses fit in perfectly, starting in verse 21 when Jesus talks to the crowd about Him “going away” (His death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven):
21 Once more Jesus said to them, “I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come.”
- As I mentioned above, this is Jesus speaking about His death and resurrection. Jesus was going to die—and people would look for Him. Not because they wanted to believe in Him, but because they wanted to argue with Him. That’s why He told them they would die in their own sin. Where He was going (heaven), they could not come because of their unbelief.
- The word “god” is a title. Of course, our “God” (big “G”) is the One true God according to John 17:3, but there are millions upon millions who believe in god (little “g”). However, “Jesus Christ” is a name. That is why it is said in Philippians 2:9-11, “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Names are different than titles. I have a title at work—it describes my function and gives a (slight) understanding of what I do each day. But my name is Tiffany. My name has a character associated with it, a personality intertwined, and all of that is wrapped in (broken) flesh.
- My point to this analogy is to bring a warning—many say they believe in God (or god). There are books on God/god, there are spiritual leaders and pastors who talk about God/god, there are blogs you can follow and communities you can be part of that claim to praise and celebrate God/god. People don’t get offended by god, they are offended by Jesus Christ. When we begin to insert the name of Jesus, that’s when people get offended—it was true in this period, and it’s true now.
22 This made the Jews ask, “Will he kill himself? Is that why he says, ‘Where I go, you cannot come’?”
- The Jews couldn’t comprehend where Jesus would go that they wouldn’t be able to follow Him. The only probable (and worldly) solution was that He would commit suicide. The Jews believed that suicide was an abhorrent sin, because it was a sin against the body God created. “If Jesus committed suicide, then He would go to a place of judgment, and this, they reasoned, was why they could not follow Him” (Wiersbe). In reality, the opposite was true—it was these unbelievers who were going to the place of judgment.
23 But he continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.”
25 “Who are you?” they asked.
“Just what I have been telling you from the beginning,” Jesus replied.26 “I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is trustworthy, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.”
27 They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father.28 So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. 29 The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.” 30 Even as he spoke, many believed in him.
- If you go back through and read the red-lettered text of Jesus’ words—it’s fascinating. He was vocal (and clear) about Who He was and the dying state of the hearts who challenged Him. He was sent from God and He always does what pleases the Father. As we continue to read Jesus’ conversation, make note of what He says and think about whether those words would be welcomed in today’s Tweets.
- Verse 30 is simple and central: “Even as he spoke, many believed in him.” Jesus was speaking what I call hard truths. Words that are difficult to hear, yet necessary for growth. The amazing thing about hard truths is that if you are willing to receive them, they will bring life. Salvation is a matter of life and death. You’re traveling this journey of life among the walking dead. You carry the power of life within you!
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. 2 Corinthians 4:7
31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
- The New King James Version reads, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” I love the word abide. John 15:7 helps us understand this verse more:
“If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” John 15:7
- When you live with someone—whether a roommate or a spouse—you begin to understand their nature more and more with time. The same parallel is true with you and Christ. As you live, abide, and dwell with Him, you become increasingly knowledgeable about His characteristics and desires. That’s why John 15:7 starts off by saying, “If you remain in me...ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” The remain word is foundational to this verse because as you know Christ more, your requests become aligned with His character and desire. As your character aligns with His, that ever-working Truth will bring freedom into your life.
33 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”
- The people didn’t understand their sin. They didn’t recognize how their sin had put them in bondage. That’s the thing about sin—it will take you further than you want to go, stay longer than you wanted to stay, and steal more resources than you wanted to give it. Sin always takes. But Jesus says in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” The more abiding and dwelling you experience with Him, the more freedom you will know. Jesus gives. Satan steals.
- It’s interesting how these unbelieving Jews Jesus was speaking to had forgotten the very Scriptures they studied! The Israelites were in bondage in Egypt for 400 hundred years and it was recorded in the Old Testament.
34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word. 38 I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father.”
- Jesus is explaining the difference between spiritual freedom and spiritual bondage. You can compare and contrast it with a son (who is part of the family) and a servant (who lives in the house but does not receive an inheritance). A servant is not guaranteed a future. Another way to think about this is to asking yourself if you practice sin. If your desire is to live your “normal” life (in sin), yet still attend Bible study or go to church, then that simply tells others than you have not surrendered your life to Christ and you’re choosing to practice sin. Friends, I’m not judging because I’ve tried taking that route (several times, actually). It’s miserable. It should make your soul squirm because you were called to be free. Yet, freedom is never free, is it? It requires a sacrifice, like the sacrifice of Christ. He is ready to set you free. He is ready for you to absolutely surrender to His way and reconcile you to God by way of His eternal blood. No one can be a servant of sin and be a son [or daughter] of God. You must choose.
39 “Abraham is our father,” they answered.
“If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do what Abraham did. 40 As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. 41 You are doing the works of your own father.”
“We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.”
42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me.43 Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! 46 Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47 Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”
- “Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say.” Verse 43 sums it up. How many times does Jesus need to state and restate the Truth? It’s not that they are senseless; they do have the capability to understand. However, their deeply calloused heart is causing them to choose not to believe. Go back and read Jesus’ words. They are potent! “You believe to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires…” Wowza. “The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” Straight-up, Jesus! Let us pause and ensure our hearts are willing to hear His voice and we are not listening to the “native tongue” of the devil: lies.
48 The Jews answered him, “Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?”
49 “I am not possessed by a demon,” said Jesus, “but I honor my Father and you dishonor me. 50 I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. 51 Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.”
52 At this they exclaimed, “Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that whoever obeys your word will never taste death. 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?”
54 Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. 55 Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and obey his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”
57 “You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!”
58 “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” 59 At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.
- It’s a good thing this scenario involved Jesus and not me. I would’ve been at my wits-end with these folks a long time ago. Our Savior is so patient, even when there are people involved who state He was a Samaritan (which were the scum of the earth to Jews) and demon-possessed.
- Verse 58 is powerful, and the words He spoke caused the people to pick up stones: “before Abraham was born, I AM!” Again, Jesus was declaring His deity. He was making His connection with the Father completely clear, so many was “without excuse.”
For ever since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through His workmanship [all His creation, the wonderful things that He has made], so that they [who fail to believe and trust in Him] are without excuse and without defense. Romans 1:20 (AMP)
- Jesus was divinely protected. “…[He] hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.” His hour had not yet come. I so admire the courage of our Savior. His boldness. His righteous indignation. His patience. I am encouraged, inspired, and sharpened by Him and His Word. Never forget Whose you are, beloved. Never forget the conflict, the persecution, the abuse, and the death He willingly endured for you. You are without excuse. Choose Jesus. Amen.