Jesus and Abundant Life

 

A Bible Study of the Gospel of John

 

 “Light of the World” – John 8

 

 

In John 2 Jesus did His first sign at a wedding in Cana which showed like God, He can turn the water of the word into the wine of redemption and like God He saves the best for last. In John 4 Jesus did His second sign of healing the nobleman’s son with a mere spoken word; a feat showing that like God His word is powerful. In John 5 Jesus healed a man who had been lame for 38 years showing Himself to be validated by the Father, the central point of scripture, and equal with God. In John 6 Jesus walked on water and fed over five thousand people with a few fish and some meagre morsels of bread. In John 7 we see the source of the abundant life Jesus speaks about in the gospel of John; Himself and the outpoured Holy Spirit. It is by coming to Jesus and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that torrents of living water flow from. Jesus is the Source of refreshing and powerful abundance.  

 

In our study of John 7 we saw how Jesus fulfilled the Messianic prophetic aspect of the daily libation ceremony of the Feast of Tabernacles. There was also a nightly ceremony during this Feast called the illumination ceremony. It’s important that we view John 8 in light of this ceremony as Jesus makes a statement about Himself that dovetails with this tradition. This celebration began the second night of the feast and was repeated through the remainder of the Feast. The libation water ceremony which took place during the day of the Feast was designed to bring to remembrance how God had provided water from the rock in the wilderness wanderings and that He was the source of refreshing water even to the present. The illumination ceremony which took place at night was designed to call to remembrance that God had led the people with a pillar of fire during the night. God is light and His light illuminates the darkness of night (Daniel 2:22; 2 Tim. 6:15-16; 1 John 1:5). The people celebrating this ceremony longed for the Shekinah glory to return to the Temple and for the Messiah Who would bring that light. We will speak more on the illumination ceremony as we get to Jesus’ proclamation that He is the light of the world (John 8:12)

 

The Feast of Tabernacles, a week-long festival, had just been completed as we transition from John 7 to John 8. In John 7 on the Great final Day of the Feast Jesus proclaimed, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 8:38). Now in John 8 Jesus will make another proclamation about Himself that can only fully be appreciated in light of the illumination ceremony of the Feast.

 

The final verse of John 7 is “And everyone went to his own house” (7:53).

 

John 8 

But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.

Jesus had no house to go to so He went to the Mount of Olives located just outside the walls of Jerusalem to the east. It’s possible He went to the Garden of Gethsemane, an olive grove, which is on the slopes of the Mount of Olives. The Garden of Gethsemane was a place Jesus often retired to. It’s a beautiful and serene place among the aged olive trees. When you travel to Israel it is a great place to prayerfully connect with the Lord. It was also the place where Judas His disciple knew He would be and brought the soldiers to arrest Jesus who would later be falsely accused and ultimately crucified (Luke 22:39ff.).

Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them.

The day before, on the Great Day of the Feast of Tabernacles, Jesus had proclaimed that anyone who came to Him could receive torrents of living water. Now, first thing in the morning of that next day, there is Jesus, in the temple, ready to minister to “all the people” who came to Him.

Jesus is eager and ready to receive anyone who would come to Him.

Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act.

The day after the Feast the scribes and Pharisees brought a woman “caught in adultery, in the very act” and set her before Jesus. She was guilty. Caught in the very act of adultery she may have been brought naked before Jesus.  She was likely shamed and embarrassed. She had no argument of defense. She remained silent before Jesus and her accusers.

Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned.

The Old Testament declares adultery a capital offense for those convicted (Leviticus 20 and Deuteronomy 22). This woman was “caught in the act” and therefore there was ample evidence against her.

But what do You say?”

The scribes and Pharisees wanted to see what Jesus would say about this women caught in adultery. Would He adhere strictly to the Law? What would He say?

If you were this woman, caught in the very act of sin, with no doubt of your guilt, what would you want Jesus to say? It’s interesting that we are inclined to think Jesus would be understanding and easily forgiving in our situations of sin, but when it comes to others, we often want offenders prosecuted to the fullest extent of the Law.

Paul wrote the Ephesian church, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph. 4:32). We need to pay close attention to how Jesus responds to this situation because this is the way we should respond to those caught in sin or who wrong us.

This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.

Sometimes it’s best to ignore the words of the vengeful. Just close your ears to hateful words. That’s what Jesus did here because the accusers of this woman didn’t really care for her. She was a pawn they were using to trip up Jesus.

When you bring accusations against people what is your motive? Is it justice? Is it mercy? Is it grace? Is it restoration? Is it proud vengeance? Paul was inspired to write the Galatians about situations such as this saying, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted” (Gal. 6:1).

What do you think Jesus wrote in the ground? This is the only place where we see Jesus physically write in scripture. In Revelation we see seven letters from Jesus but they are already written. And here in John’s account, Jesus wrote in the dirt, a very temporal format that could be blown away in the wind. But it was legible nonetheless to the accusers He wrote for.

Perhaps Jesus wrote a verse from the prophet Jeremiah in the ground. In Jeremiah it states, “O LORD, the hope of Israel, all who forsake You shall be ashamed. Those who depart from Me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living waters” (Jeremiah 17:13). That would have made a clear point to the accusers don’t you think? 

The Bible doesn’t say what Jesus wrote. People have speculated about what Jesus might have written. Some say Jesus wrote out the rest of the Commandments and as the onlookers saw what He wrote they were convicted of their own sins and then walked away. That’s possible. Jesus may have written particular sins of the accusers. He may have written something else.

But notice, Jesus was NOT quick to condemn the woman. Jesus addressed the situation with calm compassion. The patience with which Jesus handled the situation was likely meant to allow the guilty to think about their own sin. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23; cf. Romans 3:1-20). The accusers were proud in the accusatory position. The guilty woman had been humbled. She was in the right position before Jesus. The accusers were not.

 

So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”

 

Jesus paused to give the accusers time to extricate themselves from their proud position. But they insisted. They evidently didn’t get the point Jesus was making as he wrote in the dirt. Jesus always provides the sinner a way out (e.g. 1 Cor. 10:13). He desires to deal with our sin in as gracious a way as possible. He takes this position because He has bore our sin and shame. His promise is that those who believe in Him will not be put to shame (Rom. 10:11; 1 Peter 2:6). Therefore, Jesus gives the sinner time to turn from sin and to Him in faith to remove the sin, guilt and shame.

 

But as the accusers persist, Jesus drives home a very humbling unmistakable point. “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” Jesus is completely efficient in all He does. He was not only interested in dealing with the woman caught in adultery. Jesus was also interested in the condition of her accusers. Jesus seeks to deal with people, sinful people, on both sides of this situation.

 

And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.

 

In Revelation Jesus writes to the lukewarm Laodiceans, “I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see” (Rev. 3:18). Maybe Jesus wrote something like this in the dirt before this guilty woman and her guilty accusers.

 

 

Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

 

If you know the Lord and are open to the Holy Spirit, the older you get, the more aware you are of your sinfulness. The longer we live, the more we should see our sinfulness and our need for God’s grace. That is why as the accusers left, the line of departing accusers started with the oldest.

 

There’s a message here for the younger people. It is usually the young who fail to grasp the depth of their sin. It took longer for the young to grasp the point Jesus was making. As the older and likely esteemed scribes and Pharisees began to leave one by one, the younger ones probably looked at each other thinking, What are they doing? They thought this but eventually were also “convicted by their conscience” and walked away.

 

Then it was just Jesus and the adulterous woman. Jesus is a one on one Savior. Jesus meets personally with us. He isn’t just interested in the crowds. Jesus is interested in the individual. Jesus is interested in “me,” in “you.” Jesus is a personal Savior.

 

10 When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her,

 

Jesus must have been looking at the ground all this time, not at the accusers. He then rose up “and saw no one but the woman.” What would He say to her? Would He point a finger? Would He badger her with the truth of scripture? No.

 

“Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”

 

Notice six observations about this incident of Jesus with this woman.

 

First Jesus removed the proud accusers. Jesus points out that her accusers were in no position to condemn her. “Condemned” (Greek katakrino) means sentenced, to render a condemning decision against, to judge worthy of punishment. Jesus put her accusers in their place. They were right in identifying her sin. They were wrong in standing over her as God to condemn and judge her.  Jesus shamed the woman’s accusers by putting the spotlight on their own sin. Jesus humbled the accusers away.

 

Second, Jesus spoke truth and reality to her. Her accusers had walked away acknowledging their sin. They were in no position to proudly judge or condemn this sinful woman. Jesus is showing that the accusers were hypocrites because they were guilty of sin just like this woman was. Jesus leveled the playing field. He demonstrated an impartial truth based reality to the woman. Jesus didn’t take sides.

 

Third, Jesus listened to the woman’s response. Jesus listens when we talk to Him. Talk to Jesus. If you are caught in sin, trapped in sin, cast down by sin, bring your situation to Jesus and talk to Him.

 

Fourth, the woman called Jesus “Lord.” The accusers of Jesus didn’t see Him as Lord. They saw Jesus as ministry competition. They were jealous of Him. They were out to kill Jesus. They wanted to eliminate Him. This woman caught in sin had been humbled and shown compassion by Jesus. Jesus presence and compassion had won her heart.

 

Fifth, Jesus didn’t condemn this woman. Notice, Jesus didn’t walk away. Jesus was the only One without sin. If anyone had a right to condemn this woman, Jesus did. But He did not condemn her. Jesus doesn’t look to condemn; He looks to redeem and direct us to a holy life. He will tell us to go and sin no more and if we persist in sin He will judge us in righteousness (Acts 17:31). But before Judgment Day Jesus makes every effort to redeem the sinner.

 

There is no condemnation for those who believe in Jesus (Romans 8:1). This woman believed in Jesus and called Him Lord. He forgave her. He was her Protector. Jesus welcomes those who turn to Him in faith. And Jesus gives the repentant sinner a second chance. We are who we are by God’s grace and mercy (1 Cor. 15:10: Titus 3:5; Heb. 2:17; 4:16).

 

Sixth, Jesus pointed the woman toward serious holiness. Jesus didn’t forgive this woman in a way that condoned her sin. No, Jesus said, “go and sin no more.” In other words, this was not easy believism. This was not belief and forgiveness without repentance. No, this was forgiveness and life change. Jesus forgive this woman so she could continue in her sins. Jesus forgave this woman and exhorted her to “sin no more.” Be serious about what Jesus does for you and turn the page to a new chapter in life that frees you from having to sin.

 

Does this interaction mean we are never to address sin in others? A common reaction to pointing out sin in other’s lives is for them to say, “Don’t judge me! You’re judging me!” they will even quote Jesus’ words, “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matthew 7:1). (It’s amazing how people who live in sin love to quote that verse; while they ignore the rest of scripture.)

 

The context of Jesus’ words about judging was The Sermon on the Mount. Context is critically to proper interpretation. This Sermon is found in Matthew 5-7. This was a hallmark and foundational sermon of Jesus. It was addressed primarily to “His disciples” (Matthew 5:1). He introduced the Sermon with the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12). He says His disciples are salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16). Then He says he didn’t come to destroy God’s Law and the writings of the prophets, He came to fulfill them (Matthew 5:17-18). He emphasized that the Law of God should be honored (Matthew 5:19). Then He says, “Unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20). Wait a minute, the scribes and the Pharisees were dedicated to keeping the Law. In fact, they created an entire set of human traditions and interpretations aimed at helping people keep the Law of God. And doesn’t saying our righteousness has to exceed that of the scribes and the Pharisees require judging? Isn’t Jesus instructing His disciples in a way that would require them to judge others?

 

Let’s continue. Jesus goes on to speak of a higher standard than mere outward adherence to the Law. He says murder is not just something done outwardly, but it takes place when we have hateful thoughts in the heart (Matthew 5:21-26). He says adultery isn’t just something done physically, but takes place when we have lustful thoughts toward someone “in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-30). Jesus goes on to speak of the sacredness of marriage (Matthew 5:31-32), oaths (Matthew 5:33-37), not being coldly just to demand and eye for an eye or a tooth for a tooth (Matthew 5:38-42), and He speaks of loving your enemies (Matthew 5:43-48). All of these involve the heart.

 

In Matthew 6 Jesus speaks of prayer and good works. He instructs His disciples to not do their good works “before men” to get their attention. Instead our good works are to be done for God. When we pray we shouldn’t go to a street corner and take a prayerful pose to let everyone know we are praying. No, we are to get alone with God and when he sees us pray privately He will reward us openly (Matthew 6:1-18). We shouldn’t be focused on earthly wealth but making deposits in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21). He warns us to take care about what we look at or focus on and to not let the allure of earthly riches steer us away from service to God (Matthew 6:22-24). Then Jesus offers words of encouragement. He says we shouldn’t worry but instead we should seek God and trust Him to care for us and our needs (Matthew 6:25-34).

 

It is only after all of this that Jesus says, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” A main theme that runs through Jesus’ Sermon is the heart; our attitudes in what we do. Are we doing what we are doing for ourselves or for God? Is our focus earthly recognition and riches, or honoring God and relying on Him for our needs?

 

Jesus did say, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” But let’s look further at the context of that passage in order to understand what Jesus was saying. In Matthew 7 the context of Jesus’ words are as follows:

 

·         Matthew 7:1–5 - “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.  

 

The word “judge” (Greek krino) means to try and condemn, punish, avenge, damn, sentence, or judge. Jesus points out that we will be judged based on the judgment we use with others. This is a sobering thought. Then Jesus gets to the heart of the matter. He asks, “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye?” In other words, before we look to point out sin in others, we need to do our own honest self-assessment. Our perspective needs to be different than one of being judgmental. We need to be humble; to have an honest awareness and consciousness of our own sin before we look at sin in the lives of others.

 

Then Jesus lays the hammer down. If we judge others before we have done our own self-assessment, we are hypocrites! “Hypocrite” (Greek hypocrites) refers to an actor under an assumed character; a stage player, a pretender. A hypocrite is someone who is pretentious; they present themselves as something they are not. People who go around pointing out sin in others usually do so to deflect attention from their own sins. Remember that the next time you are eager to find fault in others.

 

But what about judging?  Are we never to identify and seek to help others to deal with their sin? When we return to the context we see evidence of Jesus making statements that require us to discern, to make assessments and act accordingly. Isn’t that judgment?  Jesus speaks of a narrow way as opposed to a broad way involved in life; two ways one leading to eternal life, one to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14). Jesus speaks of identifying false prophets and that we will know them by their fruits (Matthew 7:15-20). He says some people will call Him by name but they aren’t genuine disciples or followers of Him because they don’t’ obey Him (Matthew 7:21-23).  And he concludes His Sermon with a call to build a solid life foundation by obeying His words as opposed to building on sand by not adhering to his words (Matthew 7:24-27). At the end of His Sermon the people were astonished at the authority with which he taught (Matthew 7:28-29). These weren’t words that could be set aside and ignored. Jesus meant for people to apply His teaching. Later in Matthew Jesus is recorded to have said we need to discern the times in which we live (Matthew 16:3; cf. Luke too Luke 12:56). Isn’t this making judgments? How are we then to interpret, “Judge not, that you be not judged”?

 

First, we aren’t to judge others to pronounce condemnation on them as though we were God. This is why Jesus said we would be judged with the same judgment we judge others with. We aren’t to be proud and exalt ourselves into a position that only God has. He alone can judge to condemn. We can make judgments in terms of warning others about sin in their lives. But condemnation belongs to the Lord. When we condemn others we step into an area which is way above our pay grade. When we do that or have a judgmental attitude it is an indication our heart isn’t right with God. Look at the plank in your own eye before you look for specks in the eyes of others.

 

Second, Jesus warns against a certain kind of judgmental attitude of the heart; hypocritical heart judgment. It’s wrong to judge others when we are guilty of the same or other kinds of sin. We need to follow the inspired words of Paul: “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted” (Gal. 6:1). People will be overtaken by sin. We will see it. What are we to do? We shouldn’t do anything in the flesh (self-seekingly; proudly) by proceed in the Spirit (“you who are spiritual”). Our objective is to “restore” people. “Restore” (Greek katartidzo) means to repair, adjust, put back together. And as we seek to follow the Spirit in this restoration we need to “consider” ourselves and our attitudes so that we aren’t tempted. Such temptation might involve our feeling superior or proud over the fallen person. We might be tempted to use this information against this fallen person to manipulate them or extort them in some way. Or we might be tempted to get them to look at us in an elevated position or source of help instead of Jesus. A person is restored when they look to Jesus and live for Him, not for us.

 

Third, we are to pray for direction in situations where people are caught in sin. The context of Jesus’ word on judging shows that directly after His statement He instructs us to “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7-12). While this may be a general exhortation of Jesus to pray, we can’t ignore the context in which it comes. If we judge others or make assessments about sin in their lives that hasn’t involved prayer, we are hypocrites. Any and all correction of ourselves or others is to be done in prayer. Only then can we see our self and others in the proper holy light of the Spirit.

 

Fourth, Jesus said he came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets; God’s word (Matthew 5:17-18). Judgment that is right and proper is judgment made through the lens of God’s word. Jesus said a false prophet is distinguished “by their fruit” (Matthew 7:15-20). How do we determine good from bad fruit? The answer is, by God’s word. Anyone who does anything, even miracles, and then tries to get you to follow them rather than God, that person is a false prophet (Deut. 13:1-5). If a prophet makes a prediction that doesn’t come to pass, that prophet is false (Deut. 18:20-22). These are both scriptural criteria for determining a false prophet.

 

God’s word is our standard for proper judging. God’s word sets the parameters of what is righteous and what is sin. In the New Testament it states:

 

·         2 Timothy 3:16–17 - 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

 

“All scripture” refers to the 66 books of the Bible. These writings came “by inspiration of God.” “Inspiration” (Greek theopneustos) is literally God-breathed. God’s word is our source of right and wrong because it alone is breathed out from God’s heart to ours. God’s word is “profitable” (Greek ophelimos) or helpful, advantageous, profitable.

 

God’s word gives us the advantage in a number of stated areas according to this verse:

 

1.      For doctrine” (Greek didaskalia) teaching, learning, doctrine; the information needed for life. God’s word gives us the baseline of truth and righteousness from which to judge and assess all things.

2.      For reproof” (Greek eleghos) reproof, to prove something, evidence, conviction about something, God’s word helps us prove right from wrong; life from death; holiness from sin.

3.      For correction” (Greek epanorthosis) for straightening up, rectification, reformation, correction. God’s word helps us straighten out what has been bent by disobedience to God’s word.

4.      For instruction in righteousness” – “Instruction” (Greek paideia) educational training, disciplinary correction, chastening, nurture, discipline. God’s word helps us stay within the defined parameters of what God calls righteous.

 

The verses end with the purpose of God’s word in our lives as “that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” “Complete(Greek artios) means fresh, perfect, and complete. “Thoroughly equipped” (Greek exartidzo) means equipped to finish well, enabled to accomplish, thoroughly furnished for the task. God’s word keeps us fresh not rotten and gives us all we need for what God calls us to do. Go to the word in every circumstance of life, especially those where people have strayed into sin. God’s word is a road map to restoration when we fall. God’s word will help us maneuver the dangerous journey of life until we arrive at eternal life with Him.

12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

Keep in mind that this is only a day removed from the Feast of Tabernacles and the nightly illumination ceremony. The illumination ceremony was held in the outer court of the Temple also known as the court of the women. The ceremony was called in Hebrew Simhat Beit ha-Sho’eva which means the rejoicing at the place of water drawing even though the ceremony took place in the outer court of the women and not the Pool of Siloam.  In the court of the women were four huge candelabras. The Talmud (the uninspired yet authoritative tradition that gave civil and ceremonial laws: the first part was the Mishnah which laid out the oral tradition. The second part was the Gemara which was a commentary on the Mishnah) indicates that these candelabras were 50 cubits or about 75 feet tall! Each candelabra had four bowls filled with oil. Wicks made of the worn clothes of the priests who served in the Temple were used to light these candles. The Mishnah states that when these huge lamps were lit, “There was no courtyard in Jerusalem that was not illuminated from the light of the Beit ha-Sho’eva.”

 

The illumination ceremony was a time of great celebration. The Talmud states, “he who has not beheld this celebration has never seen joy in his life.” The Mishnah describes priests and Pharisees dancing with abandon and even juggling lit torches in the court area. Singing and celebration would occur until the rooster would crow at dawn. At dawn three trumpets would be blown, the people would turn to the east and proclaim, “our fathers who were in this place stood with their backs toward the Temple of the Lord and their faces toward the East and they worshiped. But for us, our eyes are turned to the Lord.”

 

The Hallel or praise Psalms were sung or recited throughout the Feast of Tabernacles (cf. Psalm 113-118). The main and most famous of these psalms for the Feast was Psalm 118. Interestingly the verse that is located at the center of the Bible is found in this psalm. This verse is Psalm 118:8, “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.” This was a psalm of personal as well as national salvation. The Feast of Tabernacles was a time to call on God to save. [1]

What does Jesus say? “I am the light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but has the light of life.” Jesus is the Light Bearer the illumination ceremony of the Feast was pointing to. And Jesus is the light in contrast to the dark hearted adulterous woman and her accusers. Jesus was there to provide “the light of life” to anyone who would follow Him.

To “follow” (Greek akoloutheo: Present/Active/Participle) means an ongoing active following; a walking side by side; an accompanying. The Bible says, “Can two walk together unless they be agreed” (Amos 3:3). If you walk with Jesus you believe in Him. To follow Jesus means to actively live a life of ongoing trust in Him. It is to pass from darkness to light; ; from death to life; from the power of Satan to God having received forgiveness of sins and living a sanctified way of life (cf. Acts 26:18). All of this is what it means to, “have the light of life”; new life in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17).

What can we draw from this verse and the idea of Jesus as light in scripture? The term “light” occurs 263 times in 228 verses in the Bible. The term “dark” occurs 205 times in 177 verses.

First, light conveys the idea of illumination; darkness conveys the idea of ignorance. In darkness you fumble around and can’t see where you’re going. In the darkness of our world, people are fumbling around with no accurate sense of direction, purpose or meaning. It takes the light of God to expose the darkness of sin. It takes the light of God to expose our need for a Savior. It takes the light of God to show us the way out of the darkness. It takes the light of God to show us the way through this dark world. “But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light” (Eph. 5:13).

Second, light is associated with holiness and truth. Darkness is associated with evil and falsehood. John is inspired to write earlier in the gospel the words of Jesus: “For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed” (John 3:20). Speaking truth openly is associated with light – “But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God” (John 3:21). When we live in a way pleasing to God we are in the light of God. Deeds ‘done in God” are holy. So let’s cast off the “works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light” (Rom 13:12).

Hell is described by Jesus as “outer darkness” (Matthew 22:13). When Jesus was paying the atoning redemptive price for our sins, “darkness was over the land” (Matthew 27:45; Mark 15:33). Peter writes, “For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment” (2 Peter 2:4).  Jesus stepped into darkness to shine His light and make a way of life for those lost in darkness.

Heaven is associated with light. The New Jerusalem is described as, “her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crustal” (Rev. 21:11). Heaven is described as – “There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever” (Rev. 22:5).

Third, God is the Source of light. God is the Creator of light. “Then God said, ‘Let there be light; and there was light’” (Genesis 1:3). The Old Testament speaks of the “light of Your countenance” (Psalm 4:6; 44:3; 89:15; 90:8). God is the One who “lights my lamp” (Psalm18:28). David said, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1). Here salvation and strength are connected to the light God provides. Light is a fountain of life that springs from the Lord (Psalm 36:9). God’s light is associated with His truth – “Oh, send out Your light and Your truth! Let them lead me; let them bring me to Your holy hill and to Your tabernacle” (Psalm 43:3). The Lord covers Himself with “light as with a garment” (Psalm 104:2). The Old Testament speaks of the “light of the Lord” (Isaiah 2:5). God’s light is revelation, life, all goodness and rightness. God’s light is salvation for all who live in darkness without Him.

In the New Testament it states, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17). This verse tells us that God is the Source of light which is a symbol of God’s grace (i.e.  “gift”), everything good and everything perfect, as well as the consistency, dependable and faithful (i.e. with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning”). If “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights” then that which is bad and imperfect is from below and the product of

“God is light and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5b). God is the Source of light. If you are in darkness having no sense of direction or purpose or meaning, if you’re under attack and feel beaten down by life, listen to the words of God through Micah – “Do not rejoice over me, my enemy; when I fall, I will arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me” (Micah 7:8).

Fourth, Jesus is the Source of light; therefore Jesus is God. Jesus is “the light of the world” (John 8:12). The incarnation of Jesus is introduced in the gospels with mention of the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy – “The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region of the shadow of death Light has dawned” (Matthew 4:16; and Isaiah 9:1-2).  In the beginning of this gospel John is inspired to write, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” (John 1:4-5). If God is the Source of light and Jesus is the Source of light, then Jesus is God.

Fifth, God’s word is a source of His light. Isaiah was inspired to write, “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20). Through the prophet God also said, “Listen to Me, My people; and give ear to Me, O My nation: for law will proceed from Me, and I will make My justice rest as a light of the peoples” (Isaiah 51:4). God’s word shines forth and lights a way of justice in a dark world of corruption.

God’s word sheds light to show us the way out of darkness. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). If you feel like you’re groping around in darkness, go to God’s word for light! “For the commandment is a lamp, and the law a light; reproofs of instruction are the way of life” (Proverbs 6:23).

In the latter days when the dark dealings of the god of this world will seem to cloud out all light of hope, then we must pay heed to and cling to the prophetic word of God until Christ returns for us. “And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:19).

Sixth, light is a symbol of life. “Light” is a symbol of “life.” Job spoke of the “light of life” (Job 33:30). David spoke of walking before God “in the light of the living” (Psalm 56:13). We may have physical life without Jesus, but we will never have spiritual or eternal life apart from Him. Faith in Jesus and repentance from sin is the way to be forgiven and freed from sin and experience the spiritual regeneration of the Holy Spirit (cf. John 3).

Seventh, the gospel is a light source since it contains the truth of God. Paul speaks of sinners, “whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. . . . For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:4, 6). We will never really live and find meaning and true purpose in life without the light of God in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Jesus saving redemptive atoning work on the cross was a magnificent mission successfully accomplished as witnessed by His resurrection defeat of death (1 Cor. 15). And He saves people out of darkness so that they can be freed from it – “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Col. 1:13). We don’t have to walk in darkness anymore. Indeed Paul writes, “What communion has light with darkness?” (2 Cor. 6:14). He wrote, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light” (Eph. 5:8). He says, “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them” (Eph. 5:11).

Eighth, walking in the light of Jesus brings us into fellowship with God. “But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). Walking in the light of God leads to fellowship with Him and each other. Division therefore is the contrasting darkness to God’s light. Any time we allow ourselves to be divisive; we walk in darkness (e.g. gossip).

Ninth, light leads to love. “He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now” (1 John 2:9). According to this verse hate is darkness. And apparently it is possible for someone to say they are walking in the light, but actually be walking in darkness through hate. “He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him” (1 John 2:10). When we love, we walk in God’s light. When we love, we grow in the Lord and become spiritually mature.

Tenth, we are the “light of the world” as we reflect God’s light in Christ in good works. “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16). Christians are to be moons; they are to reflect the light of the Son. We do that with our good works. When we do all that we do to the glory of God we become God’s light reflectors (1 Cor. 10:31). We were once “darkness, but now we are light in the Lord’ (Eph. 5:8).

Eleventh, we are warned to make sure that the “light” in us is not “darkness.”  Jesus said, “Therefore take heed that the light which is in you is not darkness” (Luke 11:35). Later in the New Testament Paul was inspired to warn, “For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light” (2Cor. 11:14). Satan and his hoards are “rulers of the darkness of this age” (Eph. 6:12). “Light” that deviates from God’s truth as revealed in His word is counterfeit; a false light. We don’t want a false imitation light from a bulb. We want the light of the Son Jesus.

Twelfth, apart from Jesus we are in darkness. Jesus is the “light of the world” (John 8:12).  Without Jesus there is no light in the world; the world is in darkness without Him. Look at the depth of darkness in the world where Christ has been rejected:

·         Dark devaluing of life: millions of babies murdered in the dark of their mother’s womb.

·         Dark ruthless genocide of Christian men, women and children.

·         Dark ethnic cleansing.

·         Dark vicious beheadings broadcast in the media.

·         Darkness and confusion about how to handle the “distress of nations and perplexities “of life (Luke 21:25).

·         Darkness and confusion about who people are; even to the point where people doubt and deny their very gender.

·         Dark images of violence, perversion, pornography saturating the world through the media and Internet.

·         Dark religions and cults who mis-define the One True Triune God as polytheistic, pantheistic, denying the Father, His Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit of light.

·         Dark churches that have gone dark without Jesus calling evil good and good evil a “church” lost in darkness and often darker than the world. “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight” (Isaiah 5:20-21).

If to follow Jesus means we “shall not walk in darkness,” then it follows that if you don’t follow Jesus you walk in darkness. To follow Jesus means to walk side by side with Him; to never go where He wouldn’t go; to go where He would go. To follow Jesus means to walk as He walked (1 John 2:6).

I drive an older car (276,000+ miles! Lots of memories in that vehicle.)  But as an older car the plastic headlight covers get oxidized which makes the lights shine dimly at night. What to do? Well, low and behold I saw a commercial on TV for a two step liquid solution to my problem. You can treat them with a liquid product that clears up the oxidation. The same thing can happen with us. Our spiritual eyes which are the lamp to the soul can become covered and clouded with the images of this world. When that happens, for God’s light to shine through and reflect through us we need the washing with the water of the word. Is God’s light shining through you? Do you need washing with the word of God? Let your light shine through clearly!

In the final words of the last book of the Bible it states of the New Jerusalem, “The city had no need of the sun or the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light” (Revelation 21:23). Are you walking in Jesus light?

 

13 The Pharisees therefore said to Him, “You bear witness of Yourself; Your witness is not true.”

 

The Pharisees had just celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles which was aimed at thanking God for His provisions in the wilderness as well as a call to him to send Messiah to save them. Here is Jesus, the answer to their prayers, and they are totally missing it. They were blinded by their accusatory attitude. They were so concerned with finding fault or denying Jesus that they missed out on the greatest fulfillments of scripture of all time; Messiah Jesus.

 

14 Jesus answered and said to them, “Even if I bear witness of Myself, My witness is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from and where I am going. 15 You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. 16 And yet if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone, but I am with the Father who sent Me. 17 It is also written in your law that the testimony of two men is true. 18 I am One who bears witness of Myself, and the Father who sent Me bears witness of Me.”

19 Then they said to Him, “Where is Your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither Me nor My Father. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also.”

 

Jesus responds to those who accused Him of witnessing to Himself. The Bible states, “by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established” (Deut. 19:15). Jesus words witnessed to who He was and the Father in heaven was His witness. At His baptism the Father had said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Mat. 3:17). John the Baptist also bore witness to Jesus (John 1:15). And the Holy Spirit bore witness to Jesus descending upon Him at his baptism (John 1:32).

 

20 These words Jesus spoke in the treasury, as He taught in the temple; and no one laid hands on Him, for His hour had not yet come. 21 Then Jesus said to them again, “I am going away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin. Where I go you cannot come.” 22 So the Jews said, “Will He kill Himself, because He says, ‘Where I go you cannot come’?” 23 And He said to them, “You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”

 

All of this interaction took place in the temple precincts. Though the religious leaders were out to get Jesus they didn’t lay hands on Him. Jesus spoke of His destination; heaven. Notice what Jesus says about joining Him in heaven:

 

First, there is a limited opportunity to seek Jesus; this life. Jesus speaks of the possibility of dying in sin. We are only given this life to repent and follow Jesus trusting in Him as Savior. If we die without having done that, we die eternally in sin.

 

Second, if you die in your sins, “Where I go you cannot come.” Your sins disqualify you from going where Jesus is.

 

Third, those who reject Jesus are confused and out of touch with Jesus’ truth. Those listening to Jesus thought Jesus was threatening suicide. Nothing could be further from the truth. When you reject Jesus you remain in the dark.

 

Fourth, the point of demarcation is whether you are “from beneath; . . . of this world” or “from above. . . .not of this world.” You can’t be rooted and living for this world and be ready to go where Jesus is. You have to make a decision.

 

Fifth, the point of belief is whether or not Jesus is God in the flesh. Verse 24 has an italicized “He.” This is an insertion by translators. The literal translation is, “For if you do not believe that I am, you will die in your sins.” It’s not enough to believe Jesus is a “prophet,” or good person, or an angel like Jehovah’s witnesses, or the spirit brother of Lucifer like Mormons. To be saved from sin and qualified for heaven you must believe Jesus is God.

 

“I am” is how God responded to Moses when Moses asked to know God’s name (Exodus 3:14). “I AM” is the holiest name of God. So holy was this name for God that scribes who were writing the Name removed the vowels from the Name so people could not mispronounce it. The vowels from Adonai, another name for God, were taken and inserted to form the Name “Jehovah” (KJV) or “LORD” (all capital letters in modern translations). When Jesus said, “For if you do not believe that I am, you will die in your sins” He was very clearly stating His deity and the necessity of those who would follow Him to accept Him as God.

 

25 Then they said to Him, “Who are You?” And Jesus said to them, “Just what I have been saying to you from the beginning. 26 I have many things to say and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I heard from Him.” 27 They did not understand that He spoke to them of the Father.

 

His accusers and skeptics weren’t ready to receive the truth about Him; even if it came from and was validated by God Almighty. Jesus simply expressed that “He who sent Me is true” and that His words were the Father’s words.

 

28 Then Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things.

 

When Jesus speaks of being lifted up He is speaking of the cross. He says it is at the cross that the truth and significance of what He is saying will be brought to light for them. It is at the cross that people see the light of the Father and His only Son Jesus. It is at the cross that “you will know that I am.” It is at the cross that we see the deity of Jesus; God in Christ reconciling the world to Himself (2 Cor. 5:19). It is at the cross that we see the perfect redemptive plan of the Father, Son Jesus and Holy Spirit.

 

29 And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.” 30 As He spoke these words, many believed in Him.

 

Jesus, the perfect Man, God in the flesh, had a deep sense of the presence of the Father with Him. Through faith in Christ we have a sense of God’s presence. And Jesus, our representative man, the Perfect man, set the example for us in living. Jesus’ principle for living was “for I always do those things that please Him.” That should be our principle for living too; to live to please the Father. Who do you live to please?

 

Notice, the enemies of Jesus didn’t refute His word here. They could not deny the closeness Jesus had with the Father or the purity of how He lived.

 

If we live to please God we will be used by God to draw people into saving faith in Him. Because Jesus lived to please the Father, “As He spoke these words, many believed in Him.” Jesus life was a powerful witness to draw people to Him. The same will be true with us; people will be drawn to Jesus as we live for Him.

 

31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

 

A “disciple” (Greek mathetai) is a learner, pupil, disciplined one, or disciple. What is a “disciple”?  A disciple is not merely a book learner. But a disciple is one who has a passion and desire to know their Master. Like the mutual knowledge of each other that a married couple acquires over the years of married life, so a disciple gets to know their Master. I’ve been married for over three decades now. I know what aggravates my wife and what she appreciates. And she knows the same about me. We have grown in our knowledge of each other. We have sent love letters to each other. The Bible is Jesus’ love letter to His disciples. My wife and I walk hand in hand when we walk somewhere. Jesus holds our hand when we walk this life. I love to be with my wife; to go places with her or just stay home together. Jesus loves to be with us whether at home or away from home. And His disciples love to be with Jesus. A disciple goes wherever they go with Jesus. I guess the best way to describe a disciple is that they love Jesus; they have fallen in love with Jesus.

 

When we look at Jesus’ words here we can define what a disciple is in the following way.

 

First, a disciple is one who believes in Jesus. The word “believed” (Greek pisteou – Perfect/Active/Participle – pepisteukotas) refers to one who had believed, or relied on, trusted in, had faith in Jesus and kept on believing, relying on, trusting in and having faith in Him. Enduring faith is the first part of being a disciple.

 

Second, a disciple of Jesus abides in His word. “Abide” (Greek meno: Aorist/Active/Subjunctive of meno – meinete) here refers to someone who has actively chosen to remain in, stay in, continue in endure in the words of Jesus. Disciples are people who study and live by God’s word.

 

Jesus then provides a promise to those who trust and follow Him and abide in His word.

 

Third, a disciple knows the truth and the truth of Jesus sets them free from having to sin. A disciple who believes in Jesus and lives by His word will know the truth Jesus is speaking about and that truth will set them free. The disciple who abides in Jesus’ word will have self-truth; they will know the truth about their responsibilities in personal situations and know the truth about what is going on in the world around them. They will know the truth as opposed to being deceived about themselves or deceived by what is going on in the world around them.

 

Truth frees us from the shackles of lies about ourselves. Jesus’ truth frees us from lies about how to know Him. Jesus’ truth frees us from lies and falsehood about who we are in Him. Jesus’ truth sets us free from the lies of the devil. Jesus will talk more of this in the following verses.

 

The words “shall know” (Greek ginosko – know, perceive, understand, and be conscious of. Future/Middle Indicative - gnosesthe) means you shall know. It speaks to the future. Those things Jesus has been sharing will all be revealed shortly at the cross and in the resurrection. And once this understanding is attained those who know will know the “truth” (Greek aletheia) the truth, dependability, freedom from error, integrity of what Jesus is saying now. And knowing that truth will or “shall set free” (Greek eleutheroo – set free, deliver, liberate. Future/Active/Indicative.) Free from what? Free from pursuing righteousness in a religious law reliant way. Free to trust Jesus and be made righteous in Him (2 Cor. 5:21).

 

33 They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?”

 

This was not a true statement. Historically the Jews were enslaved in Egypt for 400 years. They were periodically enslaved throughout the time of the Judges (approximately 305 years). In 722 BC the northern tribes of Israel were taken captive by the Assyrians. In 586 BC the southern tribe of Judah was taken captive by the Babylonians. And the Jews of Jesus’ day were under the rule of the Romans. The Jews speaking to Jesus weren’t in touch with reality. Their sinful opposition of Jesus blinded them.

 

34 Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.

 

Here is a great truth stated by Jesus. The word “commits” (Greek poieo: Present/Active/Participle – poion) means practicing. It speaks to those who indulge in sin regularly or live lives of sin. Those who live in sin are a slave to that sin. Sin is by nature enslaving. When you sin once, it becomes easier to sin a second time. When you sin a second time it becomes easier to sin a third time. The more you sin the easier it becomes to sin. Soon you find yourself caught up in a sin; enslaved by it. And whenever you sin it works death in you (Romans 8:2, 13).

 

If you practice sin it enslaves you. Samson toyed with his Nazarite vow and sinfully disregarded it. The sin he dabbled in bound him, blinded him, and eventually grinded him to a shell of the man he once was (Judges 16:21 in context of 15-16). Jesus words are true, whether you realize it or not, “whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.”

 

Jesus’ opponents claimed to not be in bondage. But they were in bondage to the Romans and more importantly to sin.

 

Are you a slave to sin?

 

35 And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever.

 

 Temptation is not sin. Temptation is the circumstantial point of decision to either sin or obey God. Sin is tempting. Sin promises pleasure for a season; for a time (Heb. 11:25). But in the end, if you persist in sin, it will lead to your ruin. When we receive Jesus as Savior we are called to a holy life. That means we no longer yield ourselves to sin but to Jesus (Romans 6).

 

36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

 

True freedom can only be received from Jesus. 12 Step Programs and their ilk only help a person to pause their sin indulgent heart. And even if a program could cure a person from an addiction, they would still be slaves of sin! Only Jesus can break the chains of sin. Only Jesus can make you really free. Jesus is faithful to not allow us to be tested beyond what we are able. He is faithful to show us the way of escape when we are tempted (1 Cor. 10:13). Rely on Jesus. Come to Jesus!

 

37 “I know that you are Abraham’s descendants, but you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. 38 I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have seen with your father.” 39 They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.”

Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham. 40 But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. 41 You do the deeds of your father.”

 

“Abrahams’ descendants” (or literally “Abraham’s seed”) refers to the physical descendants of Abraham, the people of Israel. But “Abraham’s children” refers to those descended from Abraham who believe in God; in Jesus. The apostle Paul describes the justifying, saving faith of Abraham when he is inspired to write:

 

·         Romans 4:13–25 - 13 For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. 14 For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect, 15 because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression. 16 Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all 17 (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; 18 who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” 19 And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. 20 He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. 22 And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.” 23 Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, 24 but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.

 

 

This is the kind of faith Abraham has and that all subsequent children of Abraham have. It is a faith that depends on God’s gracious provision (Romans 4:16). It is a faith in Christ that grows and matures as it believes in God’s word and promise even when the physical tangible realm makes the fulfillment of God’s promise appear unlikely (Romans 4:18-20). It is a faith that is “fully convinced” that God is faithful and able to do what he has promised to do (Romans 4:21). It is a faith God accounts as righteous (Romans 4:22). It is a faith available to all who would believe in “Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification” (Romans 4:23-25).

 

A true Jew is one whose spiritual heart has been circumcised by the Holy Spirit – “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God” (Rom. 2:28-29). Those speaking to Jesus had hearts covered and blinded by their own fleshly self-centered motivations. They were physical descendants of Abraham but they weren’t his spiritual children; they didn’t truly believe in God or the One whom He had sent, Jesus.

 

Then they said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father—God.”

 

This statement was a jab at Jesus and the circumstances of His birth. Because they did not understand or believe the incarnation they smeared Jesus and Mary with the accusation that Jesus was born out of wedlock. They accused Jesus of being illegitimate.

 

42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me.

 

You can’t claim to love “God,” or the “Father,” and not love Jesus equally. Jesus and the Father are One (John 10:30). Jesus states very clearly here that if God truly is your Father, you will love Jesus. These two Persons of the Trinity cannot be separated or divided. They are distinct Persons, but they are also One in the Godhead.

 

43 Why do you not understand My speech?

 

This is a pointed and interesting question by Jesus. Why didn’t these religious people believe in Jesus? Why don’t some people in general not believe in Jesus?

 

 

Because you are not able to listen to My word.

 

Jesus says they don’t believe in Him “because you are not able to listen to My word.” The word “able” (Greek dunamai) means to be able, have power to do, or be capable to do something. They were unable to listen to Jesus’ word because something had incapacitated them. What or who could have such an effect on people?

 

44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do.

 

This is an up front and personal statement by Jesus to His detractors. They could not receive the words of Jesus. Why? Because “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of our father you want to do.” Strong words but true words. The reason they are incapable of listening to His message is that they belong to the devil! And those who belong to the devil want to do “the desires of your father” the devil. “Desires” (Greek epithumia) means lusts, cravings, desiring what is forbidden. What did and does the devil lust for?  He lusted for and continues to lust for godhood, position, rule, to be the center of attention (Isaiah 14:12-14; Ezekiel 28:17). Jesus’ opponents were unable to believe Him because they were unwilling to listen. They weren’t willing to consider Jesus as God or that he was Messiah because it would threaten their position; the positions they had worked for and attained to. Their devilish lust for position and power blinded them and prevented them from receiving Jesus as Savior. They wanted things “my way.” Their rejection of Jesus put them deeper and deeper in sin and deeper and deeper in the darkness of the devil. That is true of all who reject Jesus.

 

If you don’t belong to Jesus, guess who you do belong to; you belong to the devil. If you haven’t received Jesus as Savior you are under the power of Satan (Acts 26:18). The sinner is blinded by Satan the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:4). If you don’t know Jesus as Savior the Bible says  you are walking dead people under the influence of the devil and a son of his disobedient ways (Eph. 2:1-3). If you disagree your argument isn’t with me, it’s with Jesus and His word.

 

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.

 

Wherever there is murder, the devil and his demons can be found. Wherever there is falsehood and half-truth, the devil is given an open door; the devil is at work. Remember that. We are called to speak the truth of God in love (Eph. 4:15).

 

All falsehood or non-truth is the product of Satan and his demons. Murder, lies and all deception is rooted in the works of the devil. The world is in the grips of the devil. But Jesus can set you free! In fact he defeated the devil on the cross and made a public spectacle of the devil and his demons (Col. 2:13-15). Jesus brings the perfect law of liberty (James 1:25). The God of peace will crush Satan under your feet if you have Jesus as Savior in your heart (Romans 16:20). Greater is Jesus in your heart than the god of this world (1 John 4:4). If you submit to God and resist the devil he will flee (James 4:7). Come to Jesus and be freed!

 

 

45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. 46 Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? 47 He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God.”

 

None of Jesus’ detractors could convict Him of sin. The truth of the matter was they rejected Jesus’ truth because they didn’t belong to God. And if they didn’t belong to God, there was only one alternative. They belonged to the devil. Who do you belong to?

 

48 Then the Jews answered and said to Him, “Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?”

 

Interesting, those under control of demons are calling Jesus possessed by demons. The lost will often attribute the works of God to demons.

 

49 Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me. 50 And I do not seek My own glory; there is One who seeks and judges.

 

Jesus is not demonic, He honors God the Father. By attributing Jesus’ words to demons they were being disrespectful to Jesus. Jesus never sought His own glory but came as a humble Servant (cf. John 13; Mark 10:45; Philippians 2:1-11).

 

But Jesus said there was “One who seeks and judges.” The Holy Spirit is the Agent of the Godhead who convicts the world of their sin and provides light in the devil’s darkness so the sinner is brought to a place where they can decide to accept or reject Jesus as Savior (John 16:8-11). That is a provision of God’s grace. We don’t deserve His light and salvation opportunity, but He in love provides it to us nonetheless. And if we don’t accept the gospel offer of Jesus as Savior we face judgment where those who have rejected Jesus will be sentenced to eternal torment in hell and miss out on eternal love with God (e.g. Heb. 9:27). The choice is yours. The devil or the Divine Jesus. Darkness or light. Eternity with God in Christ or an eternity of regret and tormenting loneliness and pain.

 

51 Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.”

 

One commentator states on these verses:

 

Pleading with the Pharisees, Jesus says, “If you’ll simply receive and embrace what I’m saying, you’ll never see death.” The same is true for us. You see, for those who know Jesus, death is neither annihilation nor termination. Death is transformation because the moment we close our eyes in the final minute of this life, we’ll see Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:8). And in seeing Him, we’ll become like Him (1 John 3:2).[2]

 

Do you fear death? Do you look at death as a great unknown? Believe in Jesus and you’ll never see death the same again. Death to the follower of Jesus is gain, not ghostly (e.g. Phil. 1:21).

 

52 Then the Jews said to Him, “Now we know that You have a demon! Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and You say, ‘If anyone keeps My word he shall never taste death.’ 53 Are You greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? And the prophets are dead. Who do You make Yourself out to be?” 54 Jesus answered, “If I honor Myself, My honor is nothing. It is My Father who honors Me, of whom you say that He is your God. 55 Yet you have not known Him, but I know Him. And if I say, ‘I do not know Him,’ I shall be a liar like you; but I do know Him and keep His word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.”

 

When did Abraham see Jesus? It’s very likely Abraham had an encounter with Jesus when he met Melchizedek. Abraham had just rescued his nephew Lot. On his way home he met the priest of Salam (Peace) Melchizedek (“King of Righteousness”) (Gen. 14).  Melchizedek has no known parents, no beginning or end (Heb. 7:3). When Abraham came before him he offered him bread and wine. Abraham gave a tithe to Melchizedek. It’s very possible that Melchizedek was a Christophany or a preincarnate appearance of Jesus.

 

57 Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” 59 Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

 

The Jews referred to Jesus as “not yet fifty.” Jesus was in His early thirties (Luke 3:23). Perhaps as the “Man of Sorrows” (Isaiah 53:3) His mission had aged Jesus so that he looked to be approaching fifty years of age. Ministry will sometimes do that; it will age you prematurely.

 

So clear was Jesus' claim to deity by referring to Himself with the “I AM” tetragrammaton, the same Name the Father had used to describe Himself to Moses (cf. Exodus 3:14), that the Jews wanted to take and stone Jesus. Those who say Jesus never claimed to be God are blind to the truth of these verses and this passage.

 

Though His opposition wanted to take and stone Him Jesus powerfully and peacefully walked “through the midst of them.” Jesus never lost control.

 

Who do you belong to? If you haven’t believed in Jesus, why haven’t you? Why are you so resistant? Have you given the devil and foothold in your life? If you don’t believe in Jesus you are in the talons of the devil and his demons. This is a spiritual reality. It’s time to wake up, throw off the devils chains and blinders and trust Jesus as your Savior and Lord. Trust Jesus as the great “I AM”!

 



[1] Brickner, David, Christ in the Feast of Tabernacles, (Chicago, IL: Moody Pub., 2006) pgs. 82-88.

[2] Courson, J. (2003). Jon Courson’s Application Commentary (p. 510). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.