John Chapter 8
E. L. Lovering, Ilfracombe
Subject - CONVERSATION WITH UNBELIEVING JEWS.
Study Portion - Chapter 8. 30-59.
THESE VERSES relate the third conversation we arc to study in the Gospel. We have noted previously -
1. The conversation with Nicodemus - a member of the Sanhedrin and a man with a religious problem, ch. 3.
2. The conversation with the Woman of Samaria - an outcast despised by Jews and a woman with a moral problem, ch. 4.
We now consider -
3. The conversation with unbelieving Jews - and a people with a racial problem.
Here is a chapter of claims, conditions, contrasts and conflicts; of racial privilege, pride and prejudice.
The student may note with interest the claims of Jesus and the Jews; the many conditions introduced by the re¬currence of the word 'if', and the extreme contrasts, resulting in dire conflicts.
In a portion which swings so rapidly from question to answer, from condition to consequence, it is difficult to arrive at a simple analysis. However, in order to help in the study of the verses, we shall endeavour to spotlight some of the salient features of argument.
Slaves or Sons
'Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, if ye continue in my word then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free' vv. 31, 32.
The reality and sincerity of their belief and the depth of their conviction, would be proved by their continuance in His Word, their knowledge of the truth and submission to it.
Only as the truth is obeyed, is new knowledge acquired and full freedom enjoyed. 'For if the Son, therefore, shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed', v. 36.
What did these 'believing' Jews do to Christ at the end of the discussion? 'They took up stones to cast at Him', v. 59. They sought to kill Him because His word had no free course in them, v. 37.
They claimed that they had never been in bondage to any man, though, indeed they had been slaves in Egypt, Babylon and Syria and were even then in bondage to Rome.
Note how the Lord Jesus lifted the argument from the natural to the spiritual - with racial pride they might claim that their spirits had never been subject to their earthly captors, but as sinners they were slaves of sin, v. 34.
In the service of the Son alone was there perfect freedom. The full freedom of the house belonged to sons not slaves.
Race or Grace
They claimed to be proud of their family tree - 'We be Abraham's seed', v. 33. This claim however, did not make them 'children' of Abraham, for said He: 'if ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham'.
It is the fruit of the tree that proves the name on the label.
Relationship after the flesh is no value unless there is relationship of the Spirit.
Rom. 9. 6-8 (R.S.V.): 'But it is not as though the word of God had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his descendants; but through Isaac shall your descendants be named; this means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are reckoned as descendants'.
Gal. 3. 7, 9: 'Know ye, therefore, that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham', so then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.
It is grace not race that matters with God.
My Father and your Father
In this connection, perhaps, the Saviour never spoke such strong and terrifying words. They burned into the conscience with penetrating truth and revealed the true condition of the human race before God.
Let those who teach the universal Fatherhood of God read carefully these verses.
They answered and said, 'Abraham is our father', v. 39. The Lord Jesus claimed that He spoke that which He had seen with His Father, whilst they did that which they had seen with their father, v. 38. The true nature of their origin was to be seen in the difference between LOVE and LUST - for 'If God were your Father', said He, 'ye would love me', v. 42; but 'ye are of your father the devil and the lusts of your father ye will do', v. 44.
Here is the infinite contrast between the Son of God and the evil one; one is the complete antithesis of the other. The Son of God came 'full of grace and truth' whilst the devil was 'a murderer from the beginning and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him, when he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own, for he is a liar and the father of it'.
Words and Works
The Lord Jesus Christ was the living embodiment of truth; later He declared, in the language of Deity, I AM the truth', ch. 14. 6.
Here He identifies His teaching with God and for this reason they sought to kill Him because He declared that He was a man 'that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God'. Further, because He told them the truth, they believed Him not, v. 45. He challenged them to find any moral blemish in Himself, when He said 'which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?', v. 46.
The explanation of their unbelief was that their parentage was not of God, but of the devil, v. 47.
Note the expressions, 'my speech'; 'my word'; 'my saying'.
They could not understand what He said, because they could not bear to hear His word, v. 43.
Both His words and His works expressed complete fidelity to the Father - He honoured the Father, v. 49, in all He did and taught; while the Father honoured the son, v. 54, because of His unique knowledge of the Father and His perfect keeping of His word, v. 55.
The honour was mutual.
Deity or Demon
'Then took they up stones to cast at him', v. 59. This was the climax of their antagonism; anger now replaced argument. They accused Him of being -
a. Samaritan - v. 48.
They claimed that they were not born of fornication, they had one Father, even God, v. 41. On the contrary, they charged Him with being a Samaritan, whose religion was 'an unholy mixture of heathenism and Judaism, the product of an illegitimate faith', and the Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans. He was in fact to them a heretic.
b. Satanic - v. 52.
'Now we know that thou hast a devil, Abraham is dead and the prophets, and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying he shall never taste of death'. This they interpreted in the realm of the physical, but He was speaking in a spiritual sense. Whoever keeps His word is placed beyond the power of death, He has the words of eternal life. When the Lord Jesus claimed that 'Before Abraham was I AM', v. 58, He was using the language of Deity. The Jews realized the significance of this claim, that absolute pre-existence meant equality with God, and this they judged to be blasphemy, demanding death by stoning, so they took up stones to cast at Him.
But with majestic calm 'Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them and so passed by'.
Is your problem religious, moral or racial? Whatever your problem, the solution is found in Christ.