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Wednesday, July 24th, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
John 8

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

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Verses 1-59

Chapter 8

Now Jesus went unto the Mount of Olives. And early in the morning he came again to the temple ( John 8:1-2 ),

Now the feast is over, but Jesus is returning to the temple on the next day.

and all of the people came on to him; and he sat down, and taught them ( John 8:2 ).

I told you this morning that the rabbi always sat when he talked.

And the scribes and the Pharisees brought unto him a women taken in adultery; and when they sat her in the midst, they said unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act ( John 8:3-4 ).

We caught her in the very act.

Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what do you say? And this they said, tempting him, that they might have an occasion to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he did not even hear them. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and he said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they were surded, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the women standing there in the midst ( John 8:5-9 ).

Now, I have a couple of...well, I have one problem with this, and then a comment. The problem: where was the man? Because they caught them in the very act. And according to the law of Moses they were both to be stoned. Why did they only bring the woman if they were caught in the act? So there was an injustice at the very onset, in their own judgments. They should have brought the man too. The question: what was Jesus writing there in the sand? Now, of course, the scripture doesn't tell us, so we can guess. My guess is that starting with the oldest of those Pharisees in the crowd, who were really pushing Him and challenging, "Our law says stone her, what do you say?" you know. And here was ole Levi, the old man, pressing the point, and so Jesus probably wrote in the sand the name Levi. And then, "Last Tuesday at two in the afternoon, why were you," and started writing out what Levi was doing the other day at two in the afternoon. And Levi said, "Hmm, I think my wife wanted me to pick up a loaf a bread. I better get home, you know." And he split. It says they were one by one convicted. So Levi's gone, so he writes "Simon". And He begins to write one of Simon's sins of the previous day or so. Simon gets all embarrassed and flustered and he takes off.

And so down the line from the oldest to the youngest, Jesus begins to write their names and write the things they have been doing. Because they were, all of them, convicted one by one in their own conscious. And they went out one by one, beginning from the eldest even to the youngest, until there was no one left but the woman. And when Jesus had stood up again, He just put His head down and just started writing. Finally,

When he stood up again, he saw no one but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, what happen to your accusers? hasn't any man condemned you? And she said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn you: go, and sin no more ( John 8:10-11 ).

That's an important thing. "Go," but don't forget the last, "and sin no more." It's not just a license. Jesus said, "God did not send Me into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through me might be saved. And he that believeth is not condemned" ( John 3:17-18 ). So here's a woman caught in the act of a capital sin according to the Mosaic Law, but Jesus is saying to her, "I don't condemn you." Because He didn't come to condemn, He came to save. And there He demonstrated His glorious ministry: seeking and saving that which was lost. She didn't need to be condemned, she needed to be saved. We don't need to be condemned, we need to be saved.

Now as we move on in Romans 8:0 on Thursday nights, we're soon gonna be getting to that interesting rhetorical question, "Who is he that condemeth?" It is true that Christians live under much condemnation. But who is he that condemns? If you as a child of God are living under condemnation, is it because Jesus is condemning you? God help us to be freed from this stereotype picture of God that we have of just waiting for us to do something wrong so He can rub us out. We so often sort of transpose the image of Santa Claus over to God, as though God is a Santa Claus and, you know, all of our prayers are just to get the good gifts from Him. Tell me what you want today. What do you want for Christmas little boy? And so prayers just to get all the things from God that we want. But in carrying that image over, we also see Him making out a list and checking it twice, gonna find out who's naughty and nice. And because we know that we've been naughty and we feel guilty over our sins, we feel that God is condemning. Who is he that condemns? Paul does not declare who condemns. He only declares negatively who isn't condemning. He said, "It is Christ who has died, yea rather is risen again, and is even at the right hand of the Father, making intercession for us" ( Romans 8:34 ). He's not condemning us. He's interceding for us. And Jesus did not condemn the sinner. To this woman He said, "Neither do I condemn you. Just go and sin no more."

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: and he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life ( John 8:12 ).

He said, "I am the bread of life." Now He is declaring, "I am the light of the world." He is making radical claims. "If a man follows Me, he will not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."

And the Pharisees therefore said unto him, You are bearing record of yourself; and so your record is not true. Jesus answered and said unto them, Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true: for I know from whence I came, and where I'm going; but you cannot tell from whence I've come, or where I'm going. You judge after the flesh; and I judge no man. And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me ( John 8:13-16 ).

And again pressing the claim, "The Father sent me."

It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true. I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me bears witness of me. Then they said unto him, Where is your Father? And Jesus answered, You neither know me, nor my Father: for if you had known me, you would of known my Father also. And these words spake Jesus in the treasury, as he taught in the temple: and no man laid hands on him; for his hour was not yet come. Then said Jesus again unto them, I go my way, and you will seek me, and you will die in your sins: for where I go, you cannot come. Then the Jew said, Is he gonna kill himself? because he says, where I go, you cannot come. And he said unto them, You are from beneath; and I am from above: you are of this world; I am not of this world. I said therefore unto you, that you will die in your sins: for if you believe not that I am, ye shall die in your sins ( John 8:17-24 ).

Notice again what heavy radical statements Jesus is making. I mean, He's laying things now straight on the line. He's declaring very plainly to them the truth, and what is the truth? If you don't believe in Him you're going to die in your sins. For God has made provision for the forgiveness of our sins, but that provision is believing in Jesus Christ, and if you don't believe in Him then there is no provision and you will die in your sins. And if you die in your sins you are lost.

And so Jesus is just squaring off with these fellows now. He's saying "You're from beneath, I'm from above."

Then they say unto him, Who are you? And Jesus said unto them, The very same one that I told you from the beginning. And I have many things to say and to judge of you: but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him. And they understood not that he was speaking to them of the Father. And then said Jesus unto them, When you have lifted up the Son ( John 8:25-28 ),

And, of course, that term lifted up is the term that refers to the cross. So He's actually saying, "When you have lifted Me up on the cross, or, when you have crucified the Son of man,"

then shall ye know that I am, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. And he that sent me is with me: and the Father has not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him ( John 8:28-29 ).

What a remarkable statement to be able to make!! Oh, I wish that I could make that statement. After just one day I wish I could make that statement. "I do always those things that please Him."

Now the Father testified that, he said, "This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." Jesus said, "There's no unrighteousness in Me, I do always those things that please Him." And in a little bit He's gonna to say, "Which of you can convince Me of sin or show Me a sin that I have done?" "I do always those things that please Him."

Now as He spoke these words, many believed on him. And then Jesus said to those Jews which believed on him, If you continue in my word, then you are my disciple indeed ( John 8:30-31 );

Now you believe on Me, now just continue in My Word, and if you do then you are really my disciples.

And you will know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. And so they answered him and they said, We are Abraham's seed, we were never in bondage to any man ( John 8:32-33 ):

Right at the present moment they were in bondage to Rome, but they didn't recognize that and that was one of their problems.

They continually rebelled against the Roman authority and finally in 70 A.D. the nation was completely wiped out because of this attitude, "We are in bondage to no man." And that attitude brought the destruction of the nation...in the revolt of 70 A.D. when the Romans sent Titus with his legions and they came and just wiped out the nation itself. But it's interesting the spirit of these people. "We are Abraham's seed, we're in bondage to no man." Jesus said, you know, "You shall the truth, the truth shall make you free." How do you say you will be made free?

Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever commits sin is a servant of sin ( John 8:34 ).

You say you're free, but if you commit sin you're a servant of sin. The Bible tells us that whomsoever we yield ourselves servants to obey, his servant we become. Whether of sin unto unrighteousness or of obedience unto eternal life.

Now it is interesting how quickly a person can become a slave of sin. It's interesting how quickly sin can get a hold upon a person's life and begin to control them. If you yield yourself, your body to sin, it can get such a hold upon you that you become its slave, and we have seen people enslaved by sin. And Jesus is here declaring that if you commit sin you become the servant of sin. You say you are free . . . oh no you're not; you're the servants of sin.

And the servant who abides not in the house for ever: but the Son abides ever. And if the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed ( John 8:35-36 ).

How I love my freedom in Jesus Christ. How I love my liberty that I have in Him. In fact, I love it so much that I carefully guard it.

Now one problem that a lot of people have is that they don't appreciate their freedom and they don't guard it. The freedom that I enjoy is the freedom not to. Not necessarily the freedom to. I have the freedom to, but I enjoy the freedom not to. Because many times if I exercise the freedom to, then I no longer have the freedom not to. So it's important how you exercise your freedom. Thank God I don't have to drink. Thank God I don't have to do these things. Some people are compelled. Some people have no control. Some people are slaves. I'm free; I don't have to. I have the freedom not to because I've been set free by the Son. And I tell you, Paul the apostle spoke about guarding that freedom. He said, "All things are lawful for me." Man, I am free. But he said, "I will not be brought under the power of any." If I exercise my freedom in an activity that in itself can bring me under its influence or power, I'm sacrificing my freedom and I'm no longer free--I'm now under the influence of the power of this habit of whatever it is that I have done. I've become controlled by the...I'm now the servant or the slave of sin. But when the Son set you free, you're free indeed. And thank God He can set you free from any binding power of sin that you might have in your life. He can set you free from drug addiction. He can set you free from alcoholism. He can set you free from any power of sin that might be holding you tonight. You need not be a servant of sin, because Jesus Christ can set you free tonight from whatever it is that is binding your life and holding you under its influence and power. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. Oh, how I revel in it and enjoy my freedom.

"I know that you are Abraham's seed."

Now they said here earlier, "We are Abraham's seed, we're not in bondage to anybody." Jesus said,

I know you're Abraham's seed; but you seek to kill me, because my word has no place in you. And I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and you do that which you have seen with your father. And they answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father ( John 8:37-39 ).

And Jesus said, "Oh, no." How is it they are Abraham's seed and Abraham is not their father? Because Jesus is talking both about the physical and the spiritual. Being of the seed of Abraham does not make you a child of Abraham. For Abraham was the father of those who believed. He was actually the progenitor of many nations, from Abraham came for the Ishmaelites. They were Abraham's seed, but they weren't Abraham's children by promise. So He's talking about the spiritual children and the physical seed of Abraham, and there is a vast difference. And even to these Jews He's acknowledging, "Yes, you are of Abraham seed, but he's not really your father." You see, spiritually you're not a child of Abraham because you don't believe, and He was making that distinction. So, "I know that you are Abraham seed, you've descended from him, but you seek to kill Me because My word has no place in you and speak that which I have seen and all." They answered and said unto Him, "Abraham is our father."

And Jesus said unto them, If you were Abraham's children, you would do the works of Abraham. But now you seek to kill me, a man that has told you truth, which I have heard of God: and this did not Abraham ( John 8:39-40 ).

Abraham didn't try and kill Me; he believed God's works, and that's what God accounted to Him for righteousness. Now I'm telling the word of God and you're trying to kill Me. That isn't Abe...you're not doing Abraham's work when you're trying to kill Me.

You do the deeds of your father. And then they said unto him, We're not born of fornication ( John 8:41 );

This could be a reference to the virgin birth. They could be here declaring your mother bore you out of wedlock. "We're not born of fornication." And it could be that the story of Mary had gotten around. That Joseph wasn't really the father of Jesus. And they did not believe that He was conceived of the Holy Spirit, and so they are accusing Him of being born out of wedlock.

Now the Bible asserts that Mary was a virgin and that the birth of Christ was a divine miracle because the power of the Highest came upon her, and Jesus was the Son of God. Born through the work and agency of the Holy Spirit impregnating Mary. Here it seems to be a low blow at Jesus, challenging the virgin birth.

There is an interesting conclusion that can be drawn from this. In the accounts in the scripture, the accounts of Mary, the mother of Jesus, we do find that she is one of the most remarkable women who ever lived. Surely the most blessed woman who ever lived. When she visited her cousin Elizabeth there in the hill country of Judea, she said, "Blessed art though among women. And blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And from hence forth all generations shall call you blessed." Why? Because God gave to her the highest honor and privilege that any woman could ever have. God chose her as the instrument to bring His Son into the world. What an honor. But, God, in making that choice, made the choice wisely and, no doubt, chose a young girl of highest character and virtue, and this is demonstrated in what is called the Magnificat of Mary in Luke's gospel, chapter 2, where her...in chapter 1 there, where we hear her declaring, "My soul that magnify the Lord and my spirit that rejoice, for He has regarded the lowest state of His handmaid . . . " and goes on and just in glorious, rapturous praises unto God, expressing a depth of character in soul that is just absolutely marvelous. And all the way through, the accounts where Mary is brought into the picture it's always in a very admirable way. Except here. "We're not born of fornication." You know your mother bore you out of wedlock.

Now, being this admirable character that Mary was, and knowing the psychology of a mother's love for her child, there's nothing, it seems, in the world that quite excels that mother's love for a child. That natural God-given love. When Jesus was being tried to be crucified, Mary could have put an end to the whole procedure, very quickly, very simply. When she saw that things were going against her son, that He was being condemned to be crucified, she could have stepped before Pilate and said, "Hold on, wait a minute. I'll name the man who did it." And she could have named the father of Jesus, had there been an earthly father. And I'm sure, had there been, she would of, knowing a mother's love. But she couldn't, she was helpless. And she had to see Him die because there was no way that she could free Him by naming an earthly father because He was born of God. And that is one of the powerful arguments for the virgin birth of Jesus; it's one of the psychological arguments of the virgin birth. The fact that Mary could not free Him from condemnation by naming an earthly father because He had no earthly father, He was born of God.

But here it seems that they're sort of casting this aspersion at Him.

We're not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God. And Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, you would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent Me ( John 8:41-42 ).

Now He's been telling, you know, "He who have sent Me...He who have sent Me." Now He's telling them plainly Who it was that sent Him. "If God were your Father you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God." A plain declaration of Jesus that He proceeded forth and came from God.

There are those who say, "Well, Jesus never claimed to be the Son of God." Wait a minute. Right here He is proclaiming and declaring plainly to them, "I proceeded forth and came from God. Neither came I of Myself. I didn't come on My own, He sent Me."

And why do not understand my speech? even because you cannot hear my word. For ye are of your father the devil ( John 8:43-44 ),

They said, "We have Abraham for our father." And then they said, "We have one father even God." And Jesus said, "Oh, no. God is not your father, but ye are of your father the devil."

and the desires of your father you will do ( John 8:44 ):

Satan's desire to destroy Jesus, you're gonna do it.

he was a murderer from the beginning ( John 8:44 ),

You're gonna murder Me.

he abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. And when he speaks a lie, he's only speaking of his own nature: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, you do not believe me. Which of you can convince me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do you not believe me? He that is of God hears God's word: ye therefore hear them not, because you are not of God ( John 8:44-47 ).

Now this is a very heavy thing. Because as you are here tonight, are you hearing God's word or is this just all gobbly gook? You're saying, "Ah well, you know, get over with it, will you, man. I wanna go home." Are you really...does God's word speak to your heart? Do you receive it? Does it strike your heart? Is it warming your heart? Is it ministering and feeding you, or is it just something that you just are sort of shoving aside? You can very quickly tell who your father is. "He that is of God hears God's words. You therefore hear them not because you are not of God."

Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Did we not well say that you're a Samaritan, and you have a devil? And Jesus answered, I don't have a devil; but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. And I seek not my own glory: there is one who seeks and judges. Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keeps my sayings, he shall never see death ( John 8:48-51 ).

Oh, Jesus is not gonna let them off the hook. He's just gonna put the knife in deeper. I mean He's ready for controversy. You guys want to hear it? Alright, go . . . let's go for it, you know.

And now this radical statement, "If a man keeps My saying he shall never see death." Then the Jews said unto Him, "Now we know that you have a devil. For Abraham is dead and the prophets, and you say if a man keeps my saying he shall never taste of death."

Jesus often was misunderstood because Jesus spoke of spiritual things and these people could only think in terms of material things. And there is a biblical definition of death and a material definition of death. And from a human material definition, death is the separation of a man's consciousness from his body. If they put the EKG on a person, and they get a flat reading, there's no motion at all, and twenty-four hours later they again put the EKG on and there is still a flat reading, if they then, which they often do, pull the plug and watch the EKGs if there still remains a flat movement, the person is clinically dead. It means that there is no activity in the brain at all. The brain or the consciousness of the person has departed, there's no brain activity. He is dead, his consciousness is now separated or has left his body.

Now a spiritual definition of death is the separation of your consciousness from God. So that, the Bible says if a person is living only for pleasure they're dead while they're still living. You see, if pleasure is your god, if pleasure is your chief goal, if you're living simply for pleasure, then your consciousness is separated from God, thus you are dead. Even though you may still be alive from a physical standpoint, yet you're dead because your consciousness is separated from God. God is not in your conscious the Bible says.

So Jesus, making reference to that spiritual definition, "If a man keeps My sayings he will never see death." I will never consciously be separated from God. Hey, my consciousness may leave this old body, but I will not be dead. I'll be more conscious of God then than ever, because I'll be right in the presence of God. Very much alive. "He that keeps my saying will never see death," I believe that. I believe that completely. I believe that one day my consciousness will leave this body and people will read in the paper "Chuck Smith died." That's poor reporting, inaccurate to say the least. To accurately record they must write "Chuck Smith moved out of a decrepit worn-out tent into a beautiful new mansion." I won't be dead, I'll be very much alive their in the presence of God in His eternal kingdom. For we know that when this earthly tabernacle is dissolved, we have a building of God not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. So then we who are in these bodies do often groan earnestly desiring to move out. Not to be an embodied spirit, but that I might move in to that new body which is in heaven. For I know that as long as I'm still living in this body I'm absent from the Lord. So I would rather be absent from this body and to be present with the Lord. So one day I'm gonna move out of the tent into the house. Not dead, just moved.

The Jews said unto Him, "Now we know that you have a devil, for Abraham is dead and the prophets, and you say if a man keeps my saying, he shall never taste of death." Now they made a wrong assumption of Abraham. You remember, Jesus when He was talking to the Sadducees, and He asked them the question...they, you know, they were the ones that didn't believe in resurrection or spirits or angels. Jesus said, "How come when God spoke to Moses at the burning bush, He said, 'I am the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob'?" He's not the God of the dead, but of the living. They made a wrong assumption when they said Abraham was dead. Abraham was very much alive at that point. In fact, he was comforting all of those who were awaiting the Messiah. Luke, the sixteenth chapter, and the poor man was taken by the angel into Abraham's bosom where he was comforting those who were waiting.

So are you greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets which are dead: who do you make yourself? And Jesus answered, If I honored myself, my honor is nothing: it is my Father that honors me; of whom you say, that he is your God: Yet you have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I don't know him, I would be a liar just like you: but I know him, and I keep his sayings ( John 8:53-55 ).

You see, Jesus is not really mincing words with these guys now. I mean, He's laying it on them. And then He said,

Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. And the Jews said unto him, You're not even fifty years old yet, and have you seen Abraham? And Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily I say unto you, before Abraham was, I am ( John 8:56-58 ).

This is it. This is His open plain declaration of His divinity. Using now that name of the eternal God. When Moses said, "Whom shall I say sent me?" "Say I Am that I Am hath sent thee." The name that expresses the eternal nature of God. "You're not fifty years old. You mean that Abraham saw You?" And Jesus said, "Before Abraham was, I am."

Now they understood what He said because,

They took up stones to throw at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so he passed by ( John 8:59 ).

Now when did Abraham see Him? "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad." When did Abraham see Him? It is quite possible that this is a reference to Melchizedek in the Old Testament. For when Abraham came back from the victory over the five kings, there came out the King of Salem, the King of Peace, and met Him and gave Him bread and wine or communion. And Abraham gave tithe of all that he had to Him, or give Him a tenth of all of the spoils. Now this priest of the Old Testament, Melchizedek, was called the priest of the Most High God. Honored by Abraham, by Abraham giving of his substance to Him, of tithe of all that he had. And it is quite possible that Melchizedek was what is known as a theophany, the appearance of God in the Old Testament in the form of Jesus Christ. "Before Abraham was, I am. And that Abraham rejoiced to see My day and he saw it." There is other evidence that shows that Melchizedek could very well have been none other than Jesus Christ. It is said there is no record of his genealogies. He did not come from the Levitical priesthood, because Levi wasn't even born. Levi was a descendent of Abraham, from which the priest...the family of the priest came. So it is quite possible that Melchizedek was actually an appearance of Jesus to Abraham in the Old Testament.

There is one other possibility, and that is, when the angel of the Lord was on his way to destroy the city of Sodom. As you read the text carefully, Abraham was talking with Jehovah, or Jesus Christ. As he was interceding for the cities of Sodom/Gomorrah. "What if there are fifty righteous people, will you destroy the righteous with the wicked? Shouldn't the Lord be fair?" And as you read that, you'll find that Abraham is addressing Jehovah and Jehovah is answering Abraham. So it is possible that that is where Abraham saw Jesus and rejoiced to see His day. But Jesus existed from the beginning and was manifested during the Old Testament period. So this is an interesting sidelight.

Next week, chapters 9 and 10. May you be blessed of the Lord as you go your way. Strengthened by the power of the Holy Spirit working in your life. Filled to overflowing with God's love as you go out as a light shining in the darkness, to bring that light to those who sit in darkness that they may have hope in a day of great darkness. In Jesus' name. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on John 8". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/john-8.html. 2014.
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