Scripture Reference: John 8
Life and Death – Continued
Please read John 8:21-30 for background to this section.
It seems incredible that these religious “experts” should ask, “Who are You?” He had given them every evidence that He is the Son of God, yet they had deliberately rejected the evidence. Our Lord’s reply may be expressed, “I am exactly what I said!” In other words, “Why should I teach you new things, or give you new proof, when you have not honestly considered the witness I have already given?”
Jesus boldly made several claims to deity (John 8:26). He said He would judge, and judgment (to the Jews) belonged only to God. He claimed to be sent by God, and He claimed to have heard from God the things that He taught. How did the religious leaders respond to these clear affirmations of deity? They did not understand! God reveals His truth to the “babes” and not to the “wise and prudent” (Luke 10:21).
Now Jesus spoke about His own death, when He would be “lifted up” on the cross (John 3:14; 12:32). The word translated “lifted up” has a dual meaning: “lifted up in crucifixion,” and “lifted up in exaltation and glorification.” Jesus often combined the two, for He saw His crucifixion in terms of glory and not just suffering (John 12:23; 13:30–31; 17:1). This same combination of “suffering and glory” is repeated in Peter’s first letter.
It would be in His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension that Jesus would be revealed to the Jewish nation. This was the message Peter preached at Pentecost (Acts 2), not only the death of Jesus but also His resurrection and exaltation to glory. Even a Roman soldier, beholding the events at Golgotha would confess, “Truly this Man was the Son of God” (Mark 15:39). The early church, following the example of their Lord (Luke 24:25–27), would show from the Old Testament prophecies both the sufferings and the glory of the Messiah.
Jesus made two more stupendous claims: not only was He sent by the Father, but the Father was with Him because He always did what pleased the Father (John 8:29). No doubt, His enemies reacted violently to these words: but some of the listeners put their faith in Him. Whether this was true saving faith or not (see John 2:23–25), we cannot tell; but our Lord’s words to them would indicate that they knew what they were doing.
Salvation is a matter of life or death. People who live in their sins and reject the Savior must die in their sins. There is no alternative. We either receive salvation by grace or experience condemnation under God’s Law. We either walk in the light and have eternal life, or walk in the darkness and experience eternal death. However, there is also a fourth contrast.
Freedom and Bondage
Please read John 8:31-47 for background to this section.
In the previous verses, Jesus addressed the “believers” mentioned in John 8:30, and He warned them that continuance in the Word—discipleship—was proof of true salvation. When we obey His Word, we grow in spiritual knowledge; and as we grow in spiritual knowledge, we grow in freedom from sin. Life leads to learning, and learning leads to liberty.
It is not likely that the pronoun they in verse 33 refers to these new believers, for they would probably not argue with their Savior! If John 8:37 is any guide, “they” probably refers to the same unbelieving Jewish leaders who had opposed Jesus throughout this conversation (John 8:13-25). As before, they did not understand His message. Jesus was speaking about true spiritual freedom, freedom from sin, but they were thinking about political freedom.
Their claim that Abraham’s descendants had never been in bondage was certainly a false one that was refuted by the very record in the Old Testament Scriptures. The Jews had been enslaved by seven mighty nations, as recorded in the Book of Judges. The ten Northern tribes had been carried away captive by Assyria, and the two Southern tribes had gone into seventy years of captivity in Babylon. And at that very hour, the Jews were under the iron heel of Rome! How difficult it is for proud religious people to admit their failings and their needs!
To Be Continued
Adaptation of excerpts from Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary Volume 1.
Unless otherwise noted, Scripture taken from the New King James Version®, NKJV © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.