John 8:45 – “But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.”
It is interesting to note that Jesus understands people and he relates to them accordingly. He was firm but compassionate with the woman at the well, who was truly seeking truth.
The religious leaders, however, are not seeking truth, they are actively opposing it! Those who were appointed to be the spiritual shepherds of God’s flock are leading them to destruction. But God loves the Jews too much to allow them to keep going down the path leading to hell without a fight. Therefore, we see Jesus speaking sharply and bluntly to the Jews in an attempt to open their spiritual eyes.
Jesus confirms the statement he made as we ended out last post – the Jews oppose him for no other reason than they find the truth to be repugnant and distasteful. This proves absolutely that they are the children of Satan, because if they were truly Abraham’s spiritual children, they would love the truth that came from Father God.
We need to be very careful as we follow this example of Christ. When speaking to the lost, COMPASSION and MERCY should always be our approach, unless Holy Spirit tells us otherwise. As a general rule, people who are lost and hurting don’t need more condemnation heaped upon them; they need to see the love of Christ.
John 8:46 – “Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me?”
In this instance, the word translated ‘convict’ means to prove, while ‘sin’ means error or falsehood.
Jesus is issuing a challenge to the Jews – if you can prove that either my life or my doctrine are false or contain error, then speak up! Lay out your case for everyone to see and examine. The Jews had publicly slandered and rejected him; they should publicly reveal the reasons why.
If there is proof that Jesus is an impostor (a false prophet/teacher or antichrist), then the Jews are absolutely correct in rejecting his teaching. But if no such proof exists, then the logical conclusion is that they should believe what he tells them; they must accept his doctrine as being the truth sent to them from Father God.
My guess is that after Jesus said this, there was complete and total silence while the religious leaders seethed with anger. The silence meant they could NOT show any instance where the life/conduct or doctrine/teaching of Jesus was false. They could not claim that Jesus unjustly reproved them for their actions. They could not provide any evidence that he was anything other than what he claimed – the divine Son of God who came to bring them the message of salvation from Father God. Therefore, they have no excuse for their unbelief!
This is a good time to question our own level of personal holiness. Obviously, we are not sinless like Jesus. But on the other hand, there SHOULD be a discernable difference between us and the world. When people look at your life/conduct, what do they see? Are we a testimony for the Father, or are we giving the world an excuse to reject the gospel? If the gospel hasn’t made a real difference in our lives, why would anyone else want it?
John 8:47 – “Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”
To ‘hear’ God means to listen to his commands and obey them, because we love and honor him. This requires that we have a relationship with him.
This description certainly applied to Jesus. At all times, he operated under the constant influence and inspiration of Holy Spirit. Because he was of God, he was able to hear directly from his Father. Furthermore, his actions were always in accordance with the commands of God. His entire life honored his Father.
What about the Jews? Obviously, they were religious. They offered the right sacrifices, observed the right feasts and holy days, wore the right clothes and attended the synagogue. But despite all of this, they were not really ‘of God’. They were going through the motions without having a relationship with God. Consequently, they were not ready/able to hear or obey his commands. In fact, they were not even able to recognize his voice; the voice/words of Jesus WERE the voice/word of God.
The voice they recognized, obeyed and honored was that of their true father – the devil.
Are there any areas of your Christian walk were you might be just ‘going through the motions’?
John 8:48 –The Jews answered him, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?”
As we noted in our study of John chapter 4, the Jews did not have any dealings with the Samaritans. The Samaritans were considered enemies of the Jewish nation, because they had a corrupted form of faith. The Jews also believed they were base, vile people with wicked morals. When they call Jesus a Samaritan, it was a term of contempt, tantamount to calling him a heretic.
The basis for this accusation was Jesus’ claim that they (the Jews) were not children of God. Their anger was further fueled by the fact that Jesus stayed three days with the Samaritans (whom they rejected and despised), preaching the gospel to them (John 4:39-40). Recently, Jesus had passed through Samaria again on his way to the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7:10). As this was the case, they considered Jesus the friend of the Samaritans which automatically made him an enemy of Israel.
In the opinion of the Jews, this was proof that Jesus was under the influence of an evil spirit. In reality, they had no factual evidence to support that Jesus was an antichrist. Frustrated and enraged, they heaped vulgar, baseless taunts at Jesus like immature junior high school kids!
John 8:49 – Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me.”
In contrast to the hateful anger expressed by the Jews, Jesus answers their charges calmly and meekly. He is the true fulfillment of the Messiah as prophesied by David:
Psalm 69:7-9 – Because for your sake I have borne reproach; shame has covered my face. I have become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother’s children. For the zeal of your house has eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached you are fallen upon me.
The two things they accuse him of – being a heretic (Samaritan) and being influenced by an evil spirit – are essentially the same charge. They are accusing him of being a false prophet/antichrist; they refuse to believe that Jesus has been sent to them by God.
Jesus refutes their claims by asserting that he labors to promote the honor of his Father; he who sincerely honors the Father must be guided by the Spirit and is a faithful servant of God. An evil spirit would never do this, so this was sufficient proof/evidence that he was not under the influence of a demon.
While Jesus does only what honors Father God, the Jews do everything in their power to dishonor Christ. Since the majesty, power and authority of God were evident in Jesus, to dishonor him was to show contempt for God himself.
This is significant for us. Later on in this gospel, Jesus tells his disciples that the world will hate them, because it hated him (John 15:18).
We can expect times when we too are reviled for honoring God and his truth. As human beings, our feelings will be hurt. But as spiritual beings, we have the capacity to forgive and we have the opportunity to rejoice, because great is our reward in heaven (Matthew 5:12).
John 8:50 – “Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge.”
This statement was true throughout the life of Christ. He never sought to exalt or vindicate himself. He was willing to be despised and hated for the sake of the gospel, which was a mark of the true Messiah:
Isaiah 53:3 – He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Because the entire life of Jesus was one of self-denial and honoring of his
Father, these insults probably didn’t affect him all that much. Jesus simply does the will of God and leaves his reputation in the hands of his Father. In due time, God will revenge the insults piled upon his beloved Son. We can be assured of this, because God tells us:
I Samuel 2:30 – Those who honor me, I will honor…..
This is not to say that we should never stand up for ourselves or fight ugly false rumors that are leveled at us. But it does tell us we should not try to defend ourselves by responding in the same manner. We should not hatefully heap false accusations or slurs upon anyone who treats us that way (I Timothy 2:25).
And again, when we suffer reproach for seeking the glory of God, we have the assurance that God, the judge of all things, will one day vindicate us (Psalms 37:6).
John 8:51-52 – “Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death. The Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.’”
Once again, Jesus speaks in eternal and spiritual terms, while the Jews can only focus on the temporary physical world around them.
The argument presented by the Jewish leaders is easily predictable. Jesus has already affirmed that Abraham was a true follower/friend of God. Yet, he died a physical death. So according to the Jews, the statement of Jesus that ‘anyone who keeps my word will not see death’ is false. And if this statement is false, Jesus is everything they have accused him of being.
It is truly remarkable how hard the religious leaders worked to keep themselves from seeing the truth that was right in front of them! These men, who were supposed to be astute scholars of the scriptures, forgot the truth that God revealed back in the book of Genesis:
Genesis 3:22-23 – And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever: Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden…
Based on the lies of Satan, Adam and Eve had decided to rebel against God and eat the fruit of the one tree God had instructed them not eat. This action brought sin into the world… and sin didn’t come alone. It brought sickness/disease, poverty, pain, hatred, lies, murder, envy, addiction and every other kind of wickedness and suffering you can imagine.
The scriptures are very plain – if Adam and Eve had eaten from the tree of life at that point, they would have lived forever in human bodies that are under the curse of sin and all of its effects.
So God, in his infinite love and mercy, forced Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden before that could happen. He forced them to remain in a state where their physical bodies would eventually give out and die. Now let me tell you something that seems shocking but is actually true: Physical death is actually a gift/blessing from God.
I know that sound strange, but let me explain. Once a Christian is separated from his/her physical body, their spirit and soul are free from all the consequences of sin. God will then give us a new body, free from sin, which is suitable for us to inhabit for eternity with him in the kingdom of heaven (I Corinthians 15:50-57).
Had God NOT done this, we would be doomed to live forever in bodies racked with pain and lives devastated by suffering. We would live forever in sin. I don’t know about you, but I am glad that someday I will be separated from my flesh and receive a glorified body that is free from sin!
Again, the Pharisees and other Jewish leaders prided themselves on their knowledge of the scriptures. They should have been very aware that once sin entered the world, God intended for men to physically die. They should also have been aware that through the promised Messiah, God made provision for man to have both a new body and everlasting life in the spiritual realm.
It is inexcusable for them not to understand that the words of Jesus(‘if anyone keeps my word he will never taste death’) were true in the spiritual/eternal realm. This was especially true since they knew for a fact that the saying was not true in the physical realm.
John 8:53 – “Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?”
Back in John 5:18, we noted that the Jews wanted to kill Jesus, because he claimed that God was his Father, which made him equal to God (which they considered blasphemy). Stated another way, we might say that Jesus is on the same ‘level’ as God. Obviously, all human beings would be on a lower ‘level’ then God, Jesus or Holy Spirit.
In this verse, the Jews are insulting Jesus by denying that he is greater than Abraham or the prophets. In fact, they are insinuating that he actually occupies an even lower station in their opinion, because they consider him to be a blasphemer and antichrist. They believe Jesus is exhibiting pride and self glorification when he says he is greater than Abraham.
How blind they are! How tenaciously they cling to unbelief! Jesus is the very antithesis of pride and vanity. He was a member of the Godhead who had veiled his own glory in a body of flesh, making himself less than he was. He emptied himself of his own will and desires; he is the greatest example of humility that has ever been exhibited.
Philippians 2:7-8 – But [Jesus] made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Sadly, Satan continues to perpetrate a similar lie even today. Many cults and false religions admit that Jesus existed. Some of them even include him in their beliefs/doctrines. They will even go so far as to say that he was a prophet or a good man, but they deny that he is the true Son of God; they lower him to the level of a common man. This is an example of true blasphemy.
John 8:54 – Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God’.”
One of the definitions of honor is ‘to esteem or respect, veneration, manifestation of respect or reverence’. Jesus did not glorify/honor himself, nor did he seek those things from other people.
Any and all honor he had while walking this earth was bestowed upon him by Father God. It was God who sanctified him, sealed him and sent him into the world as the Messiah. He should therefore have been respected and revered by the Jews.
Jesus also looked to his Father to fulfill his promise of future glory/honor. Father God promised to glorify his son with the glory that was his before the world began.
John 17:24 –Father, I will that they also, whom you have given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which you have given me: for you loved me before the foundation of the world.
The glory of Jesus is immense and beyond our understanding. When it is finally revealed, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord (Philippians 2:11).
If the Jews were honestly and sincerely serving the God that sent Jesus into the world as the Messiah (as they claim), they would recognize this fact. It is evident that they know about God, but they have not really placed their faith in Him or the Messiah he sent to save them.
John 8:55 – “But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word.”
The key to this verse is the word ‘know’. What does it mean to know God?
You can know God in the sense that you have lots of facts about him. You can know that he loves you, that he is the creator/ruler of the universe, that he is righteous and just, etc. We would describe this as having ‘head knowledge’ about God. This type of ‘knowing’ God is what the Jews experienced.
You can also know God in the sense of having a relationship with him. This means that you have a belief in God and you have placed your faith in him. He speaks to you and you hear his voice (John 10:27). You speak back to him through prayer. You partner with him to bring his will to pass on earth. This is the type of ‘knowing’ God that Jesus was talking about.
Anyone can give ‘lip service’ to God; anyone can know facts about him (even demons do). But unless that set of facts or head knowledge is accompanied by a true change of heart, it is useless. The religious leaders have not yet come to know God in this manner. If they had, they would not have rejected Jesus as the Christ.
John 8:56 – “Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.”
This verse is a bit more complicated than it appears on the surface. We must first consider what Jesus meant by the phrase ‘my day’. Some scholars take the broad view that it refers to the entire earthly ministry of the Redeemer, which culminated with his death on the cross. Others have a more narrow view; they believe it refers specifically to the actual crucifixion event (which is probably the better interpretation in this case).
To ‘see’ does not refer to physically seeing with the eye. Rather, it means to have a view or distinct concept of something; to understand or comprehend an idea or circumstance.
The next thing to note is that a careful reading of the verse shows that Abraham is described as having two different and separate times which gave him joy. Specifically, he first rejoiced that he ‘would see’ that day and secondly he was glad when he finally ‘saw it’.
What does this all mean, and how can it be true of Abraham?
Let’s begin by reminding ourselves of the promises that God made to Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3, Genesis 26:1-5).
- He was to be the father of a great nation.
- This nation would inherit a Promised Land.
- All the people of earth would be blessed through his family line.
There can be no doubt that without the intervention of God, none of these three things was likely to happen. In fact, they were humanly impossible; without God they would never come to pass. Even in his wildest dreams, Abraham could not imagine a way for these promises to come true.
Put yourself in Abraham’s position for a minute. If you were in his situation, wouldn’t you spend time wondering how these promises were going to come true? Wouldn’t you long to see the manifestation of these promises? Remember, back in that day there was no TV, no podcasts and no Spotify! You were alone with your thoughts most of the day; there can be no doubt that Abraham meditated on these promises.
The third promise (all the nations of the earth will be blessed through you), was perhaps the most difficult to ‘see’ (comprehend/understand). As we know, the fulfillment of that promise was the Messiah, who would sacrifice his life to redeem the world.
Once Abraham received the promise of the Messiah (the blessing of the world), he rejoiced. In the original Greek, ‘rejoiced’ means to leap forward with joy, to meet the object of one’s wishes. It denotes ardent desire, intense longing and strong zeal. So Abraham longed or intensely desired to know/comprehend/understand how the Messiah was going to redeem the world. And God gave him the desire of his heart.
Psalm 37:4 –Delight yourself also in the LORD; and he shall give you the desires of your heart.
In other words, God gave Abraham something that allowed him to understand or comprehend (see) the sacrifice of Christ for the redemption of mankind. And when he understood/comprehended it, he rejoiced once again – he was glad. ‘Glad’ refers to the calm and settled joy which arises from the fulfillment of the promise. This means that after Abraham understood God’s plan for blessing the whole earth (redemption by the Messiah), he experienced a profound and calm joy.
This brings up the obvious question: What was the ‘something’ that God revealed to him?
The answer is found In Genesis chapter 22:1-14, where Abraham was commanded by God to take his only son Isaac to the top of Mount Moriah and sacrifice him there as a sin offering. While Abraham is there with the knife in his hand about to strike the killing blow, an angel appears and stops him. There, caught in a thicket, is a ram that will be a substitute offering.
Genesis 22:10-11, 13 – And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.
Clearly, God gave Abraham a very vivid and unforgettable understanding of the Redeemer. God would send his only begotten Son into the world, to lay down his own life as a perfect sacrifice to atone for the sin of the world.
The point that Jesus is making to the Jews is that their ancestor Abraham, whom they held in the highest esteem, intensely rejoiced just to understand the concept of the Messiah. They, on the other hand, are standing right in front of the literal fulfillment of the promise and they reject him!
If they were true spiritual children of Abraham as they claim to be, they would have celebrated Jesus just as Abraham rejoiced so long ago.
John 8:57-58 – So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?”Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”
We find yet another example of the Pharisees perverting the words of Jesus. Jesus never said that he had seen Abraham. Jesus said that Abraham had ‘seen’ his day; by faith Abraham understood the incarnation of Jesus and his subsequent death as a sacrifice for sin.
In his reply, Jesus uses the double phrase ‘truly, truly’, which indicates that what he is about to say is very important.
He then refers to himself as “I AM”, which is the name God identified himself with back in the book of Exodus (3:14). This name denotes the continued existence of God without respect to time. Although it is past our understanding, God has no beginning or end. He has always existed and he is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).
The Jews questioned whether or not Jesus was old enough to have seen and known Abraham. In his fleshly body, this was impossible for he was less than 50 years old, but because he is God (I AM) he existed before Abraham.
This answer affirms what was said about Jesus in the first chapter of John (1:1) – he was in the beginning with God, and he was God.
John 8:59 – So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.
The Jews obviously understood that Jesus was calling himself divine and making himself equal with God. They considered this blasphemy, so without waiting for a trial they immediately prepared to stone him.
But his time had not yet come; he was able to escape from their wicked intentions.
Let me offer you some encouragement and some relief:
Abraham rejoiced in the promises of God. We too can rejoice and be encouraged by the promises of God that are yet to come.
For instance, we will one day be separated from our body of flesh. We will receive a new body, free from all the ravages of sin, which is suitable for an eternity with God. Hallelujah!
What other promises of God are you waiting to experience? Dwelling on them will bring us both relief and encouragement.
Is there something about God’s future plan that you strongly desire to know? Why not take the time to ask him to reveal that to you?
Let me offer you some strength:
Jesus knew that despite his ill treatment by the Jews, his full glory would one day be revealed. His Father would vindicate him. The same is true for us. Even though you may be mocked or derided by the world for your beliefs, stay strong! One day the full truth of God’s plan will be revealed!