FRIDAY, JUNE 23
SCRIPTURE: John 8
As with most chapters in the Bible there is much that happens in this chapter. It appears that the entire chapter happens within the Temple complex, particularly in the Court of the Women which is where the Temple Treasury was located (see verse 20). As I was thinking about this chapter, I decided to pick up the story in the middle and see how far we can go.
Obviously after Jesus “saved” the woman caught in adultery in the early part of the chapter, the rest of the chapter is filled with conflict. The pattern is simply Jesus teaching truth and the Jewish religious leaders wanting to argue with that truth because it didn’t fit their paradigm.
When you get to verse 31, Jesus makes the amazing promise that the Truth will set us free. The religious leaders make an incredible statement in response to Jesus’ offer to set them free. They said, “We have never been enslaved to anyone.”
In a nice way, let me that just wasn’t true. The Book of Judges is a story of reoccurring enslavements as different nations would conquer Israel and enslave them until God raised us a judge to deliver them. Later on the nation of Israel would be enslaved by Babylon and then Assyria. And, actually, at the very moment those religious leaders made that statement, the nation of Israel was being occupied by the Roman army.
Interestingly Jesus didn’t respond to that. He just kept speaking truth. Maybe that means we don’t have to correct the mistakes of others if we just keep speaking truth. If you skip down to verse 39, the religious leaders’ response was “Abraham is our father”. Then in verse 41, they said their only Father was God. Jesus didn’t argue about that one either. But He did explain to them what it would be like if God really was their Father.
As you might imagine, that didn’t set well. So, in verse 48, the Jewish religious leaders resort to name calling. They said Jesus was a Samaritan which was like one of the worst things a Jewish person could be called. It was not only a racial slur but it was also an accusation of heresy since the Jews didn’t think Samaritans were true to God’s Word. Then to top it off, they said Jesus was demon possessed.
Religion, of any sort, can be one of the meanest, cruelest, most divisive things in the human experience. And religious people will go to great lengths to stamp out anything and anyone that presents a challenge to their religious system. In our story these religious people were even willing to destroy the only Son of the One, True God to protect their system and their place in it.
I want to wrap up this chapter by calling your attention to verse 58. Jesus made a very important statement here. He described Himself with the phrase “I am”. That is a direct, unmistakable claim to be God. It is the very way God identified Himself in the wilderness when Moses asked what His name was.
This statement of “I am” defines God and, therefore, Jesus as self-existent. In other words, they are not the progeny of anyone. They exist apart from anyone including any ancestor. Secondly, it defines God and, therefore, Jesus as eternal. There is no mention of “I was” or “I will be”. God has always existed and will always be.
That is difficult for us to comprehend because we are so bound by time, space, and even our ancestors. But God exists above and beyond that. And yet, He chooses to enter our time and space to make an eternal difference in our lives. He didn’t do that because He needed to. He did that because we desperately needed Him to.