The Gospel of John – Part Seven

Noted as one of the best starting places in the Bible, the Gospel of John is a first-hand account of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ from one of his most trusted friends and disciples. This book is necessary reading for the believer as its detail and insight is beyond anything one might cross as they seek out knowledge of this good Word. For this reason, I have decided to embark on a multi-part study on the Gospel of John to give not only in-depth analysis of the entire book; but, also background on it's creation and the man that wrote it. Today we continue into part seven of this series as we discuss John Chapter Eight!


John 8:1-59


John 8:1-11: "Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.

“Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”

They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.

When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”

“No, Lord,” she said.

And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”


Jesus and the Adulterous Woman. **Geographical note: The Mount of Olives is a hillside connected to the city of Jerusalem. The Garden of Gethsemane is on one side of the hillside and then you go down and up again and Jerusalem is on the other side. The Garden was where pilgrims would stop and rest before doing the final mile into the city. Jesus went there often to pray and that was what He was doing at this time.** He starts again teaching the people when He is interrupted by the scribes and Pharisees. Take note of verse 6 where John says they were doing this in order to test Jesus so that they might have a way to accuse and condemn Him (a trap). The test here was if He said, “Well, let her go” they could accuse Him of being soft on adultery and therefore not in compliance with the law of Moses. On the other hand, if He said, “Yes, let’s stone her according to the Law of Moses” they would accuse Him of disobeying Roman law, because Jews had no right to capital punishment. It went through the government. Even the finding of the woman is questionable (it seems as though she was set up to be caught in order to set up this opportunity of entrapment). Can you see what is happening when Jesus gives His answer though. Everyone had gathered to listen and to see what would happen and when He says this, everyone begins to leave until only Jesus and the woman are left in the court. We do not know what Jesus wrote on the ground. You cannot even speculate it, however we do know what Jesus is quoting when He says what He says (Deuteronomy 17:7). For context in Deuteronomy 17:7, Moses was giving the instructions for how a stoning for such a sin should be carried out. The idea was that the witnesses to the adultery were to be the ones to cast the stones in the punishment and then after they had thrown their stones, the people were to cast stones in order to finish the job. So the witnesses had to begin the stoning (so it was not just a mob). Jesus is referring to this, but He adds to the idea by stating that the first one to cast the stone should not only be a witness but should be someone who has not sinned themselves. So once He has said this, he ignores them and allows them to mull it over. Now THEY are in a catch twenty-two. If they throw the stone, they acknowledge they are hypocrites and they also break Roman law by enforcing capital punishment themselves. If they don’t throw a stone they acknowledge that they are sinners. For them, it is the acknowledgement of sin that is the lesser evil. With His dialogue with the woman, Jesus shows an alternative way of dealing with sinners. He offers forgiveness rather than condemnation and punishment. One (Jewish leadership according to the Law) condemned and punished for one infraction; the other, offered forgiveness and restoration for those who acknowledge they are wrong. By telling the women she could go and not sin anymore, Jesus was showing the balance between grace and the acknowledgement of sin (by saying “do not sin anymore”). Yes, He did not punish or condemn her, but this was not because he did not see any sin, He offers forgiveness with the condition that she repents.


John 8:12-18: "Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”

The Pharisees replied, “You are making those claims about yourself! Such testimony is not valid.”

Jesus told them, “These claims are valid even though I make them about myself. For I know where I came from and where I am going, but you don’t know this about me. You judge me by human standards, but I do not judge anyone. And if I did, my judgment would be correct in every respect because I am not alone. The Father who sent me is with me. Your own law says that if two people agree about something, their witness is accepted as fact. I am one witness, and my Father who sent me is the other.”


Jesus and the Pharisees. Once again Jesus invites people to believe in Him. A person would normally say “I provide light in the darkness” or “I will show you the light” but He does not say that. He says “I AM the light” and not just part of it, but the light that illuminates all the darkness until it is no more. We also see that He equates light with life. In other words, if a person has light, that same person has life. Of course, the light that He is talking about here is truth, the understanding that one has when that person knows God. His point of course is that if you know the truth you do not only have normal life, you have spiritual life that is in essence, eternal life. He is once again declaring His divine nature to those who would hear Him. The Pharisees dismiss what He says and make no comment about it. They are more interested in discrediting Him than they are at understanding what was said (human tendency). They accuse Him of bragging about Himself and state that if He is doing this, then it compromises what He has said about Himself. Jesus answers them from the perspective of His divine nature. No man could say what Jesus says. He says, even though He makes a statement about Himself, that statement is never less truth because He 1) has complete knowledge about His entire past and future and they don’t (why? Because He is the Son of God). 2) His assessment of who He is is not based on His own opinion alone, but is based on Himself and the opinion of the Father. 3) That two agree on a thing is what the law requires to establish validity, so He is saying since I and the father agree about who I am and what I say, then our testimony is true. This is why He does not judge from a fleshly perspective, He judges as God with complete knowledge. Because Jesus is divine, what He says is true and God confers them.


John 8:19: “Where is your father?” they asked. Jesus answered, “Since you don’t know who I am, you don’t know who my Father is. If you knew me, you would also know my Father."


This is another tactic to not deal with what He is actually saying. They pick out one point and try to chase it instead of the actual message and respond with confusion. They want to know where “the father” is so they can verify what He is saying. He answers them plainly that in the way they treat Him, they demonstrate that they do not really know who He is and they don’t know who His Father is.


John 8:20: "Jesus made these statements while he was teaching in the section of the Temple known as the Treasury. But he was not arrested, because his time had not yet come."


John makes an editorial comment here about the fact that they would not seize Him at this time because God would not permit it.


John 8:21: "Later Jesus said to them again, “I am going away. You will search for me but will die in your sin. You cannot come where I am going.”


Here He is talking about His death and resurrection and the fact that they will not be able to understand what has taken place because they do not believe. Seeking him refers to the fact that they are trying to understand Him and the gospel with human understanding and they will fail because they do not believe. Jesus is condemning them because of their lack of faith and they do not even understand this.


John 8:22: "The people asked, “Is he planning to commit suicide? What does he mean, ‘You cannot come where I am going’?”


Here is proof that they do not get it. They think His reference to death means He will cause His own death.


John 8:23-24: "Jesus continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You belong to this world; I do not. That is why I said that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.”


Now He is giving them the key to this mystery! He tells it to them plainly, saying they will die in their sins because they do not believe in Him. Only through Him, their sins can be forgiven.


John 8:25a: “Who are you?” they demanded."


Finally, the light begins to penetrate. They don’t know what to say anymore. Their eyes are finally opening and they finally ask a decent question that demonstrates that they are beginning to sense that He’s someone kind of special. He’s not ordinary. They want Him to be more clear.


John 8:25b-26: "Jesus replied, “The one I have always claimed to be. I have much to say about you and much to condemn, but I won’t. For I say only what I have heard from the one who sent me, and he is completely truthful.”


His answer to “Who are you?” Jesus says that He has been trying to explain who He is from the very beginning. He reestablishes the idea that everything that He is saying to them (through teaching and judgement) comes from God. The things He says are ONLY from God directly. He says “I am the one who speaks for God.” He’s more than that, but they need baby steps. Once again, He is declaring His divinity.


John 8:27: "But they still didn’t understand that he was talking about his Father."


Another editorial comment from John. He’s telling the readers that they don’t get it. This does not mean that everyone believed what He said, but they are finally understanding the point of what He is saying.


John 8:28-29: "So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man on the cross, then you will understand that I am he. I do nothing on my own but say only what the Father taught me. And the one who sent me is with me—he has not deserted me. For I always do what pleases him.”


Jesus foretells His crucifixion and resurrections and says this will provide proof that He is from God. He repeats the idea that God sent Him and is with Him and that He (Jesus) is perfect.


John 8:30: "Then many who heard him say these things believed in him."


Editorial statement by John. Jesus produces faith is some of those who hear Him (even some Pharisees). The cycle is evident here again.


John 8:31-59: "Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

“But we are descendants of Abraham,” they said. “We have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean, ‘You will be set free’?”

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. Yes, I realize that you are descendants of Abraham. And yet some of you are trying to kill me because there’s no room in your hearts for my message. I am telling you what I saw when I was with my Father. But you are following the advice of your father.”

“Our father is Abraham!” they declared.

“No,” Jesus replied, “for if you were really the children of Abraham, you would follow his example. Instead, you are trying to kill me because I told you the truth, which I heard from God. Abraham never did such a thing. No, you are imitating your real father.”

They replied, “We aren’t illegitimate children! God himself is our true Father.”

Jesus told them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, because I have come to you from God. I am not here on my own, but he sent me. Why can’t you understand what I am saying? It’s because you can’t even hear me! For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. So when I tell the truth, you just naturally don’t believe me! Which of you can truthfully accuse me of sin? And since I am telling you the truth, why don’t you believe me? Anyone who belongs to God listens gladly to the words of God. But you don’t listen because you don’t belong to God.”

The people retorted, “You Samaritan devil! Didn’t we say all along that you were possessed by a demon?”

“No,” Jesus said, “I have no demon in me. For I honor my Father—and you dishonor me. And though I have no wish to glorify myself, God is going to glorify me. He is the true judge. I tell you the truth, anyone who obeys my teaching will never die!”

The people said, “Now we know you are possessed by a demon. Even Abraham and the prophets died, but you say, ‘Anyone who obeys my teaching will never die!’ Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?”

Jesus answered, “If I want glory for myself, it doesn’t count. But it is my Father who will glorify me. You say, ‘He is our God,’ but you don’t even know him. I know him. If I said otherwise, I would be as great a liar as you! But I do know him and obey him. Your father Abraham rejoiced as he looked forward to my coming. He saw it and was glad.”

The people said, “You aren’t even fifty years old. How can you say you have seen Abraham?”

Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I am!” At that point they picked up stones to throw at him. But Jesus was hidden from them and left the Temple."


Jesus and His New Disciples. Jesus continues to challenge those who say they believe in Him. In verses 31 and 32, someone has clearly professed their belief and Jesus is saying “If you are truly My disciples, then this will be proven because you will obey and continue to obey and believe and will be freed from ignorance and sins.” In verse 33, they respond in offense by what He says about their freedom. They are wrong, first of all, because throughout history, they have been enslaved numerous times. But these Jews like to think that their connection to Abraham makes them right with God, with religious freedom guaranteed by this heritage. They reject Jesus’ offering of freedom by saying essentially they do not need Him to free them because they are already freed. Jesus answers them in 34-38 (truly truly) by saying that they are a slave to sin, not men and that they will only remain right with God through the Son setting them free from sin. He acknowledges that, yes, they are descendants of Abraham, but that this does not even save them from the bondage of sin. He repeats that he only speaks the word of the Father. Verse 39a “They answered and said to Him “Abraham is our father.” Now the crowd senses what He is accusing them of and they come back with saying “we have no other father but Abraham. We don’t know who your father is, but we know who ours is.” Verse 39b-41a (ending in “you are doing he deeds of your father”) Jesus responds to their declaration by saying “if you are doing the deeds of Abraham, they wouldn’t be doing what they intend to do, which is kill him.” He is reading their hearts. He finishes up the section by saying that they prove they are not the children of Abraham because Abraham would not do this. 41B This is a real insult here, Now the crowd steps up and declares God is their father. The unspoken insult here is they charge Him that He was born of fornication (talking abut Mary and her pregnancy). 42-47 He turns what they say on them and says they are not from God or else they would know who He was. The devil is prompting what they say. 48 Now they are insulting Him some more saying He does not belong and that He is possessed by a demon. They are angry with Him. 49-51 He tells them, I know how you are insulting me, but He also says He is not discouraged because He wants honor to go to God. He finishes with a challenge to believe in Him. Keeps putting the offer back on the table. 52-53 They pounce on His answer and use it to try to prove His is from the devil. “If you’re so smart, how come those guys are dead?” they are saying “Who do you think you are?” 55-56 He answers and says if He is trying to glorify Himself, His glory does not mean anything, but the glory comes from God. They glory is the things He is saying and doing. He is saying this in such a way to suggest that He Himself was there and that Abraham understood the promise of the Messiah and was glad. This challenges the crowd. 57 Once again, they only understand the human understanding. They don’t get it. 58 Jesus not only says He saw Abraham, but the way He expresses it, is remarkable. In saying this, Jesus is referring to the time when Moses was speaking to God and asking who he should say sent him to the pharaoh and God responded with “I AM who I AM.” (Exodus 3:13-14) The Jews would have been very familiar with this passage and recognized that Jesus referred to Himself in the same way as God did. In other words, He was saying He is God. The Jews see this as blasphemy. Verse 59 They react in anger and try to stone Him. We see the course of the dialogue between Jesus and the crowd/woman/pharisees/the so-called believers and now even the so-called believers were challenged by Jesus.


Summary:

  • Cycle of belief and disbelief continues as Jesus dialogues with different groups.


Lessons:

  • Jesus came for forgiveness sake not judgement.

  • That does not mean that there isn’t going to be a judgement but His purpose in coming was to orchestrate forgiveness and make it possible for all.

  • Obedience is the “sifter”

  • Jesus is aways sifting His followers.

  • He does this through the principle of obedience.

  • Jesus always tests His disciples.

  • This is in order to grow your faith and yourself

  • Do not be angry about this, it is not for your harm

The Healing:

  • Jesus Heals the Blind

  • Will set the stage for...

  • the Pharisees Debate

  • After this, we go back to Jesus and...

  • Jesus Declares His Deity