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the Accusers Self-condemned
This passage has been the subject of much controversy, but there is no possibility of accounting for it except on the supposition that this incident really took place. It reveals in our Lord’s character such tenderness, wisdom, hatred of sin, and insight into the heart of man, that it is impossible to suppose that any evangelist could have invented the story.
The sinner’s way of treating sin is to regard it as “a case” for curious speculation, and an opportunity for contrasting with it the immaculate virtue of the accusers. They take prurient pleasure in enumerating the terrible details, but give no sign of pity or shame for the sinner. The Law’s way of treating sin is to stone. The executioner shows no mercy. The offender falls beneath the Law’s curse and penalty. The Savior’s way of treating sin is to forgive. In that bowed head and hidden face, John 8:10 , we learn how much sin costs Him. But it is easy to hear His words of forgiveness, and to go forth from His presence with the assurance that “there is now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus;” but we shall never know how much sin has cost Him, whom it crucifies afresh. That silent, averted gaze has made men bow their heads and beat upon their breasts.
the Twofold Witness
On either side of the Temple court stood a huge golden candelabrum. On the first and each succeeding night of the week of the Feast of Tabernacles these were lit, and they poured a brilliant flood of light over the Temple and the city. It was to these that our Lord alluded in John 8:12 . They were symbolic and intended to recall the pillar of cloud which led the pilgrim march through the desert, and at night disclosed a heart of illuminating lire. Our Lord compared Himself to the manna in John 6:1-71 , to the smitten rock in John 7:1-53 , and to the cloud here in John 8:12 .
What the pillar of cloud and fire was to Israel, Jesus will be to His Church and the individual soul. See Exodus 13:21 ; Numbers 9:15-23 . The fire in the cloud was prophetic of His deity enshrined in His humanity. It was this consciousness of the union of the divine and human that enabled our Lord to speak as He did of Himself. There was no egotism or self-assumption in His claim. It was the literal truth. He bare record of Himself, because He could say nothing less, and knew whence He came and whither He went; and the miracles which He wrought in union with the Spirit of God ratified His witness.
the Father Made Known in His Son
Our Lord was absorbed in acquiring glory for His Father. He was sent by the Father, lived by the Father, could do nothing of Himself, and spoke only as the Father taught Him, John 8:28 . He could dispense with all human help and stand alone, because the Father never left Him, John 8:29 . To honor Him, please Him, work His works, live in His love, was the passion of His life, John 8:29 ; John 8:49 .
There was a mystery in all this that baffled the men of His age. They were from beneath; they lived for worldly aims, were governed by earthly motives, and sought for the praise of men. His life was spent in fellowship with heaven. But to us there should be no mystery. We, too, should aim to do the will of God as the supreme goal of life. Our aims and ends are too low. The conversion of the unsaved, the upbuilding of the Church, are excellent, but they should be included in the sweep of a wider circle. Aim at the planet and you miss the sun; aim at the sun, and you include the planet. Our one intention should be that God be magnified in our bodies, both in life and death. But for this we must be willing to take up the cross and follow Jesus in His lifting up.
the Source of True Liberty
Sin is not a necessary part of our being. The servant abideth not in the house for ever. Your child is an integral part of the household; he has become one with it. However far he travels, he can never break the link of indissoluble connection. But it is different with a servant, especially under the provisions of the Levitical law. In like manner, a man may have served sin, but, though tightly held, it has no necessary rights over him. The trumpet of Jubilee may sound, and he may go free. It is not freedom to do as we like. Jesus sets us free from the trap and the bird-lime, that is, from the unnatural conditions fastening and confining us from being what God meant us to be. The swallow would not thank you to be freed to live on carrion, but only to mount again into the sunny air.
Jesus frees us by the truth. The slave-girl will no longer serve in the house of her cruel oppressor, when she learns that the act of emancipation has passed and he has no longer any claim upon her. When we understand that we are accepted and triumphant because of our union with Christ, we begin to exercise our privilege and to draw upon the grace which he has made available. Thus we become free.
the Test of Sonship
Godly ancestors and parents will avail nothing, unless we are animated by their spirit and do their works. There were in the old world two families that ran in parallel lines-that of Cain and that of Seth. See Genesis 4:1-26 ; Genesis 5:1-32 . The Cainites were citizens of this world; the Sethites were pilgrims of the eternal. The one family finally reached such a pitch of wickedness that they were swept away by the flood, while the other furnished the world with an Enoch that walked with God and a Noah who was perfect in his generation.
This distinction has continued down the ages, and is not only accentuated by these words of our Lord but by 1 John 3:12 ; 1 John 3:15 . In Ephesians 2:2 , those who walk according to the course of this world are practically walking according to the spirit that works disobedience in men’s lives. It becomes us, then, to see to it that we are not deceived. We may never have plunged into such depth of sin as overwhelmed the men of that generation; and yet if our hearts are steeped in the love of this world, which is passing away, we betray our affinity to evil and not to good, to the devil and not to God, Ephesians 2:2 .
the Eternal Christ
It is absolutely true that the Christian disciple does see death as the king of terrors or as a grim monster. Jesus has robbed death of its sting; He has destroyed Him that had the power of death. The moment of death is the moment of birth into a wider and happier existence. We are set free from this body of mortality and become possessed of the house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. The grave is the vestibule of Paradise. We know that the iron gate opens into the city of God. Absent from the body, we are present with the Lord. The moment of transition is so desirable that it is only comparable to the falling asleep of the tired laborer.
The Father glorified His Son by the attestation given at the Baptism and the Transfiguration, by the Resurrection from the grave, by the Exaltation to His right hand. Yet these are but stages in the glorification of our High Priest. The full outburst of His glory is yet future. We shall behold the glory with which the Father has rewarded His obedience unto death; nay, we are to share it with Him. See John 17:22 ; John 17:24 . Notice the I AM of John 8:58 . Compare Exodus 3:14 .
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Meyer, Frederick Brotherton. "Commentary on John 8". "F. B. Meyer's 'Through the Bible' Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Fifth Week after Easter