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With John 8 a new part of this Gospel begins, a second main part. After the introduction in John 1-2 the first main part is formed by John 3-7. The key word of that part is life. John 8-12 form the second main part with light as the key word. The third main part we have in John 13-17. The keyword of that part is love. These three key words – life, light and love – have been brought tangibly into this world by the Son of God and form an enormous contrast with all that is going on in this world.
He came out of the world of life into the world of death, out of the world of light into the world of darkness and out of the world of love into the world of hate. The clash of these two worlds dominate all chapters. Each time we see how incompatible the two worlds are, which is particularly evident in the enmity of the religious leaders. This enmity leads to a complete rejection of Him Who was sent into the world by the Father. In John 8 it is evident from the rejection of the Son’s word, and in John 9 it is evident from the rejection of His works. Both His words and His works are the two great testimonies that declare His origin (John 15:22-Jeremiah :).
The Lord Jesus Teaches in the Temple
While everyone goes to his home (John 7:53) the Lord Jesus goes to the Mount of Olives to spend the night there (Luke 21:37). The Mount of Olives is, so to speak, His “home”. It is the place where He seeks fellowship with His Father. Later He will go there to supplicate His Father in Gethsemane concerning the cup (Luke 22:39). Again later, after His resurrection, He will return to the Father from there (Acts 1:9; Acts 1:12). When in the future He returns from heaven, the Mount of Olives will be the place where He descends to visit earth again, but then in power and majesty (Acts 1:11; Zechariah 14:4).
After spending the night in fellowship with the Father, the Lord continues early in the morning doing the work He has seen the Father do. Again he enters the temple. There He is the point of attraction for all the people. When they come to Him, He sits down and teaches them about the Father. In His service to the people He is tireless (cf. Luke 21:37-Zechariah :).
A Woman Caught in Adultery Brought to the Lord
Likewise, the leaders are tireless in their efforts to silence the Lord Jesus. Like the people, they come to Him, not to learn, but to set a trap for Him. As always, they are completely blind to the glory of the Son and His omniscience. They bring a woman with them and bring her to Him. The woman has been caught committing adultery and they want Him to act as Judge. John notices that they place her in the center. They place sin, as it were, in the center.
Their depravity is apparent not only from their evil intent, but also from the way in which they accuse the woman. They speak about sin without any disgust. For them it is ‘a case’ with which they want to embarrass Christ. They save Him the trouble of finding out whether their accusation is correct, because the woman has been caught red-handed. Possibly her husband came home when she was in bed with another man. It is also possible that the spies of the leaders have reported her.
The prosecutors know the law. They know what the law of Moses says about such cases (Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 17:7). They can apply the right article of the law. Then why ask Christ? Because they do see and hear the grace and truth in Jesus Christ, but refuse to accept it, because they do not want to see that they are sinners. They no longer want to hear His sermon and His influence on the crowd is an eyesore to them. They want to get rid of Him.
Now they think to have put Him with their question in a situation where any answer that He would give them would lead them to expose Him as a deceiver. If He condemns her, He is not a Savior. After all, the law can condemn as well. If He sets her free, He disregards and rejects the law. The trap is cleverly conceived and cunningly set up. But what does the cleverness of man mean in the presence of God Who searches the heart?
The Lord does not respond directly to their attempt to test Him. That is not because He wants to gain time, but because He wants the full importance of the situation to pervade them. Because of this they will, once He answers, no longer have any possibility to evade what He is telling them. He is a perfect Master of the situation.
He stoops down and writes with His finger on the ground. It is the same finger that wrote the commandments on the tablets of the law with the judgment of Israel (Exodus 31:18). It is also the same finger that wrote the judgment of Belsazar on the wall (Daniel 5:5). In both cases the finger of God wrote, for it was this finger, indelibly, the inflexible justice on a stone ground. We do not know what the Lord is writing here on the ground in the dust. It has been suggested that He may have written the names of those who did not want Him there (Jeremiah 17:13).
As a result of His stooped posture we can make two applications. On the one hand, He wants to teach the leaders that such an event can only be treated properly in a humble disposition, willing to make themselves one with such evil. On the other hand, He wants to teach the woman that He does not stand upright to throw stones at her, but that He, as the Humble One, stoops down to serve her by convincing her of her sin.
The Hearts of the Accusers Revealed
The persistent incorrigibility of the depraved prosecutors comes to full maturity when the Lord does not answer for a while. They persist in asking Him for the answer to their question to be Judge. Then His time has come to answer. He straightens up. Now that is a mighty moment. We see His power and His rights here, but yet He does not make use of them. When God straightens up, it’s impressive. Several times we read of His straightening up or arising to judge His enemies (Psalms 68:1; Isaiah 14:22; Isaiah 33:10).
As impressive as His straightening up is what He says. He does not give a legal answer, but a moral answer, which is more like a question. By that answer everyone present is placed in God’s light. In that light every sin is revealed, not only the sin of adultery. With his question he turns the spotlight of truth on the hypocrites. His light shines and reveals every heart. He is the Only One among that company Who is without sin. He is therefore the Only One Who could throw a stone at her. He does not, for it is not the hour of judgment, but of grace.
After He has straightened up and spoken justice, He stoops down again and continues writing on the ground. He takes the lowest position, while He is the greatest and most glorious of all. Again He gives His opponents the opportunity to draw their conclusions, but now after He has given them a sensitive, profound lesson. His answer embarrasses them, while they have been out to embarrass Him. This is worked out by the power of His word that placed them in the light. Who can stand in His presence without being convinced of guilt?
Remarkably, the older ones are the first to go home. They have done the most sins and they cannot hide them in His presence. Even those who have sinned less badly or not so much, leave. Opposite Him Who sees right through them, they can’t maintain anything of their evil motives to test Him. They all drip off. This leaves no one left but the Lord alone, with the woman standing in the center.
The Lord and the Adulterous Woman
Again the Lord straightens up Himself, this time to raise two questions for the woman. He asks where her accusers are and if there is no one who has condemned her. The woman does not answer the question where her accusers are. They all left, but she is not alone. She is still standing in the presence of Him Who knows everything. With the words “no one, Lord” she does answer the second question. This is the only word we hear from the woman, but it is enough to show that her faith in Him is present.
Then the Lord speaks the liberating word that He does not condemn her either. By adding: “Go. From now on sin no more”, He makes it clear that He does not take sin lightly. He does not pretend that she has not sinned. She has committed a grave sin, for which she was rightly accused. She did not bring anything in her defense. Neither could she because she was caught red-handed. The Lord can say that He does not condemn her because He will bear the judgment of that sin for the woman. His task to her is to start a new life now, for which He will give her the life and strength.
The Light of the World
The Lord has shown with the history of the woman that He is the light of the world. Through His word He placed all in the light and all have left. But the Pharisees have returned. He speaks to them again and speaks about Himself as “the light of the world” (John 8:12; John 1:4-Deuteronomy :; John 1:9). This statement is the key to the rest of the chapter. He is going to explain what that means.
That He speaks of Himself as the light of the world indicates that His glory exceeds the borders of Israel. In fact, His rejection by the Jews is the reason for God to make Him a light for the nations (Isaiah 49:6). It also means that anyone who follows Him no longer walks in darkness, but that such a person has the light of life. For such a person, the darkness no longer has a hold, nor does the darkness hold horror for such a person. Those who follow Him follow the life that is light.
The Lord Jesus reveals life and that revealed life casts light on all other lives. All those other lives become revealed as darkness and are on their way to darkness. Only following Him leads to the path of light and to the light. The testimony of the Lord leads to yet another manifestation of enmity in the Pharisees, as we always find in this Gospel.
The Lord has endured the contradiction of sinners in general, but of these religious leaders in particular (Hebrews 12:3). They feel that they have no part in any blessing of which He speaks and they even do not want to have any part in it. They think they have an argument for rejecting His testimony by saying that He is testifying of Himself and therefore His testimony cannot be true.
If we look at what the Lord Jesus said in John 5 (John 5:31), it seems that they are right to make this remark. But the background is different. There it is about His dependence on the Father and that is why He says that He does not testify of Himself. Here it is about His own glory and His connection with the Father. Here He gives His testimony as the Omniscient.
These people are completely ignorant of the Father and the Son. They do not think about heaven and lack the ability to judge Him correctly. On the contrary, the Son has the constant awareness of the truth of His own Person and of His mission by the Father. His testimony is inseparable from that of the Father.
They do not know where He comes from. Earlier the Lord said that they knew where He came from (John 7:28). There He meant that they knew that He came from Nazareth. But His pre-existence in heaven and His place with the Father is completely unknown to them.
His Testimony and That of the Father
The cause of their unfamiliarity with His true origin is that they can only judge things in a carnal, natural way (John 7:24). Their own self is the source of their judgment. Then a person does not look beyond what he can perceive. He has no understanding for what lies beyond his horizon. Christ, Who is God over all, blessed forever (Romans 9:5), and Who has perfect knowledge of all things, is not judging anyone, but serves all. He is not judging anyone, for that is not His command with which the Father has sent Him into the world.
The fact that He is not judging anyone does not mean that He would not be able to do so. He has a perfect, infallible judgment over all things. His judgment is perfectly true, without any uncertainty. That is because He is not alone. He judges because the Father has given Him the judgment (John 5:22). That not the Father, but He judges, does not mean that He exercises the judgment independently of the Father. The Father Who sent Him is in complete agreement with the judgment He exercises.
In order to underline His words in a way that matches their knowledge of the law, the Lord again refers to their law given by Him and to which they appeal. It is written there that the testimony can only be accepted as truth if there are two people who bear the same witness (Deuteronomy 17:6; Deuteronomy 19:15). The Lord responds to what He Himself has written in the law. Does the law require the testimony of two people? Well, then He can say that He speaks in accordance with the law in His testimony about Himself. He and the Father bear witness concerning His Person.
The Lord always refers to the Father as the One Who sent Him. He always shows that as the eternal Son He is perfectly one with the Father and also that as the Son of Man He testifies of the Father on earth in perfect dependence of the Father and declares the Father. In turn, the Father bears witness to the Son (John 5:37; 1 John 5:9; Matthew 3:17).
This word about His Father makes them challenge Him to tell them where His Father is. In order to convince them, He must show them His Father, with the undertone that of course He will never be able to do so. But he who is blind to the Son does not see the Father either, for the Father is known only by the Son (John 14:9). They understand that He speaks of God as His Father, but in their unbelief and bias they reject any thought of it. They see this as blasphemy. Their question stems from contempt.
The Lord answers that they know neither Him nor the Father and that knowing the Father is inseparable from knowing Him. Because they reject Him, they cannot know the Father either. The Son is the only and exclusive possibility to know the Father (1 John 2:23; 1 John 4:15). Without Him that is completely impossible.
These particularly important words that reveal so much about the glory of His Person are spoken by the Lord in the treasury. His words in which He reveals His glory for to those who believe can be compared to the opening of a treasury or treasure room. Only faith sees its value.
The Lord teaches in the temple, where religious leaders pretend to stand up for the right of God, while seeking only their own honor. His teaching is most offensive to them. How much they had wanted to seize Him. But no matter how great their hatred and murderousness, they are powerless until the moment determined by God has come.
This may also be an encouragement to us. People can’t do anything to us unless God allows it because it fits into His plans. Our times are in His hand (Psalms 31:15) and not in the hands of people.
He Who Does Not Believe Dies in His Sins
In spite of all their attempts to seize Him, the Lord continues to speak to them. He knows that they will only be given the opportunity to seize Him when the time has come according to the Father’s plan. Then He will give Himself into their hands as well. Now He still speaks to them to testify of His Father and to denounce their evil. He tells them that He is returning, back to the Father. That this will happen through their wicked actions, is not an issue in this Gospel. All initiative lies with Him.
Once He will have left, they will seek Him. He will have disappeared inexplicably. They will seek Him as they sought Him after the wonder of the loaves (John 6:24), but without faith and driven by purely human motives. They will seek Him as a Messiah, but won’t find Him because He doesn’t meet their expectations. Therefore, they will die in their sin, for there is no life outside of Him. Their death will eternally separate them from Him.
Where He will go, they cannot come because of their persistent unbelief and they will never come once they die in their sins. He goes to heaven, to His Father, but they have their interests on earth and have no interest whatsoever in heaven or His Father.
Again the Jews speculate about the meaning of the Lord’s saying that He is going somewhere they cannot go (John 7:34-Zephaniah :). This time they suggest the possibility that He might then commit suicide. Behind His words, man’s foolishness seeks all possible absurd explanations that are all equally far from the truth. Any such explanation shows the utter darkness of their thinking. There is not the slightest bit of truth in it.
The Lord responds to their foolish assumption by pointing to the source where they reason from and the source where He speaks from. They are from below, that is to say, they belong to below and have no connection with heaven. Because they are from below, they belong to the world and think like the world, they carry the character of the world and breathe the atmosphere of the world. They have no part in and understanding of what is from above. He is from above (John 3:31), He belongs to heaven and to the Father, where He came from. He has no connection whatsoever with the world (John 17:14).
Because of that radical separation that exists between them and Him, both in origin and in character, and therefore have no part in Him in any way, they will die in their sins. Believing in His Person as the ‘I am’, as it literally says, is the only way to change their fate and the fate of every human being. The ‘I am’ is Yahweh (Exodus 3:14) and that He is. He is the Son of God, God revealed in the flesh. ‘I am’ refers to His eternal nature as the Son of God. He is the true God. This statement does not allow mixing with anything else. It is either for or against Him. He who believes in Him as the ‘I am’ has life. He who does not believe in Him, dies in His sins, because outside Him there is no salvation.
Jesus Is All That He Has Been Saying
The Jews continue to respond with counter-questions that all demonstrate their unbelief. They ask Him Who He thinks He is speaking such presumptuous words. The Lord continues to respond to their questions and gives testimony of Who He is with great power. For faith, His answers increasingly reveal His glory. So here as well.
Every attack of the devil reveals, on the one hand, man’s incorrigible evil, but on the other hand it gives the Lord Jesus the opportunity to show more and more of His glory. It is like a diamond, the brilliance of which is all the more striking when placed on a black background.
Once again, his answer to the question “Who are You?” gives such a brilliant impression of His glory. He is not only the way and the life, but also the truth. He does not only do what He says, He is what He says. He Himself is the logos, He not only speaks about God, but He Who speaks, is God Himself. All His speaking reveals His inner being, that is, His speaking reveals Who God is. It is the expression of His perfect Person. That is why no man has ever said that and no man can ever say that. Only He can say this.
Everything He says is perfect truth. What He says makes perfectly clear Who He Himself is, Who God is and who man should be before God. Good and evil only become known through Him. And Him the Jews reject. By doing so they are deprived of the truth. Because of the perfect knowledge He has of His opponents, He could speak a lot about them and judge them. All His speaking and judging would perfectly reveal who they are, but the time of that speaking and judging is yet to come. That is not the purpose for which He has come into the world.
Sent by the Father, He has now come to earth to speak to the world what He has heard from the Father. He knows Him as the One Who is true and He reveals Him as the One Who is true. In this way He reveals everything in its true character. The goal the Father has with that – and the Son is in perfect agreement with that goal, and He serves that goal – is to bring people to the heart of the Father. That is only possible through the Son. Unbelief is blind to the true meaning of His mission because it does not recognize Him as the Son of the Father.
The Lord knows that they do not comprehend that He has told them that of the Father. He points ahead to a time when they will know Who He is, namely when they will have exalted Him, the Son of Man, on the cross. That act, through which they make their rejection of Him complete, will in the future be the cause of their acknowledgment that He is the ‘I am’. When the Lord Jesus returns in glory, every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him (Revelation 1:7; Zechariah 12:10-2 Chronicles :). Then they will stand face to face with Him Whom they now reject.
In that meeting, their whole history will pass them by as in a flash. They will acknowledge that He had once come to earth as the ‘I am’, while at the same time He nothing on His own initiative, but spoke everything as the Father had taught Him.
In the spirit the Lord places Himself behind the cross, as if His work on the cross had already taken place. Here He can show the results of it. He does this for example also in John 17 (John 17:4). However, at the moment the Lord Jesus says these things, the cross is still before Him and the work has yet to be accomplished. In accomplishing that work He knows that the Father Who sent Him is with Him.
Even though the leaders still so oppose Him, even though the crowd does not understand Who He is and seek Him out of self-interest, even though He is still so wrongly judged by the Jews, He knows that the Father has not left Him alone. He also knows that the Father is not with him out of pity for the opposition he is experiencing. The Father rejoices in being with His Son because His Son always does the things that are pleasing to Him. The Father joyfully connects Himself to the Son in His way on earth. The Father has also testified of that joy several times (Matthew 3:17; Matthew 17:5).
What He has said does not fail to touch many others who are not hostile to Him. They believe in Him. By His speaking, they feel that He is a special Person. However, this does not necessarily mean that always conversions and subsequent following Him is connected to that. It is the same as the other times we read about this (John 2:23; John 7:31). We can see this when He then gives the conditions for discipleship.
To Be Free Indeed
He holds it up to the Jews who believe in Him that true disciples show their faith by continuing in His word. True faith is manifested by continuing in the word of Christ. It is not something that can be done in one’s own power. Someone who believes continues in His word, feeds on it, listens to it, is obedient to it. Someone who simply says that he believes can perhaps keep the appearance of continuing in His word for a while, but there comes a moment when he will show himself in his true unconverted nature by clearly distancing himself from the word of the Lord.
Continuing in the Lord’s word results in the truth being known and to be made free from any bondage to any sin. Truth does not lead to slavery, as the law does, but to freedom. The law makes it clear to man that he is a sinner, and does so by imposing on him a yoke that he cannot bear and, as a result, condemns him. Also the truth of the word of Christ makes it clear to man that he is a sinner, but that word also gives the solution in Christ. He has borne the curse and judgment associated with the law for everyone who believes in Him (Galatians 3:13). That truth makes free indeed.
Once again the Jews show their utter blindness by interpreting the words of the Lord in a literal sense. They protest against the idea that they should be set free, because that would mean that they are slaves. Such a thought they throw far from them. They think only of an outward freedom and claim that as Abraham’s descendants they have never served anyone. Have they forgotten that at the moment they say this they are subject to the Romans? Have they also forgotten how they were often subjected to heathen rulers in the past? Every submission to powers that God brought upon them was because of their sins.
They became so accustomed to it that they forgot that they are in slavery. Even less are they aware of the yoke of sin under which they are. That blinded and hardened they have become. The same thinking can be found in Christians who believe that through baptism – which, in their (wrong) opinion, took the place of circumcision – they have been incorporated into the descendancy of Abraham and therefore automatically participate in Abraham’s blessing.
The answer of the Lord leaves no room for misunderstanding. He again begins His answer with a double “truly” and an authoritative “I say to you”. Then He says that every person who has sin as a practice of his life is a slave of sin. They are people who are characterized by sin, not believers who fall into sin through inattention (Galatians 6:1). Every person who does not believe in Him is a slave of sin.
The Jews are not only slaves of sin, but they are also in bondage under the law (Galatians 4:3). They are Jews under the law and as such they are now slaves in the house, that is the house of Israel. They will be sent away from there by the judgment that God will bring on them by the Romans.
For slaves there is no permanent place in the house of Israel, being a house in which God dwells. The Son has inalienable rights. He belongs in the house and will remain there forever, as will all those who have been made free by Him. He is not just a ‘son’, He is the Son. Not only is He free as Son, but He makes free. He grants to everyone He frees the same characteristic of freedom as the freedom that is His own as the Son. He frees from sin, death, and law. That is to be free indeed. This freedom is only given to a person if He believes in the Lord Jesus.
Abraham’s Descendants, but of the Devil
When they have said that they are Abraham’s descendants (John 8:33), the Lord knows and acknowledges that. He knows that, as far as their physical ancestry is concerned, they are descendants of Abraham. But that does not mean that they also possess the faith of Abraham. They demonstrate the opposite, for they are trying to kill Him. That is because His word is not accepted by them. Whoever closes himself off to the word of the Lord, becomes a murderer of the Lord. Therefore they prove that they are not spiritual descendants of Abraham.
The Son speaks what He has seen with His Father, and His words are spirit and life (John 6:63). They also speak what they have heard from their father. Later the Lord will tell what He means by that. First He points out that everyone speaks according to the source with which he is connected and that the words that everyone speaks bear the hallmark of that. But they persistently maintain that they are descended from Abraham, he is their father.
The Lord tells them that they would do the works of Abraham if they were real children of Abraham, i.e. they would act according to the faith of Abraham. A child acts according to the nature of his father. Physically they are descendants, but they are not children, because they do not act according to the faith of Abraham, they do not have Abraham’s nature of faith. Their behavior demonstrates something completely different. Abraham believed in Him, but they are trying to kill Him. And why are they trying to kill Him? Because He spoke the truth to them and that even as Man.
The Lord Jesus presents Himself here in the most humble way imaginable. He does not even ask that they believe in Him as the Son of God, but says that He has spoken the truth to them as “a man”. But they completely shut themselves off from the truth, no matter how it comes to them. Abraham did not do that. Abraham never rebelled against God.
Then the Lord says that they do the works of their real, that is their spiritual father. They respond to this with a comment that may contain a blasphemy regarding His birth. When they say: “We were not born of fornication” – with the emphasis on “we” – they may mean that the Lord was born of fornication. After all, Joseph and Mary were not married when He was born, weren’t they? There are other slanderous things that have been said in the course of church history about His supernatural birth. In any case, they were not born that way. It may also be that they interpreted His words as an accusation of idolatry, that they had idols as a father and worshiped idols and thus committed spiritual fornication.
In any case, they totally reject the Lord’s accusation that they have another father than God. They have one Father and that is God. More and more the Lord makes it clear how completely alien they are to a real connection with God. The more they boast about it and claim that connection, the more His words reveal their true condition.
Their increasing resistance gives the Lord the opportunity to expose their enmity and hatred completely in the light. If God were truly their Father, they would love Him, the Son, for He has gone out and come from God and yet they reject Him. This clearly proves that God is not their Father. They are also blind to the perfect connection between the Son and the Father which is evidenced by the unity of action of the Father and the Son. The Son did not come on His own initiative, without consultation with the Father, but the Father sent Him. It is impossible to know God as Father and at the same time reject the Son.
What the Lord says in John 8:42 is also a clear statement regarding the so-called fatherhood of God as Father of all people. God is not the Father of all people; He is only the Father of those who have the Son as their life. They know Him and love Him.
The opponents of the Lord do not understand what He is saying because they are spiritually deaf to His words. He speaks in their vernacular, but they do not understand the meaning of the words He uses to express His thoughts, which are the same as God’s thoughts. His word is the revelation of His Person. His word shows who He is, but they are both blind and deaf. Everything He says reveals Who He is, but they shut themselves off from Him and therefore they do not understand what He is saying.
Then the Lord Jesus says in plain language that the devil is their father, that they originate from him and that as real children of that father they do his desires. As children of the devil they reveal the character traits of the devil. The desires of the devil match the nature of the devil. The devil has three characteristics: murder and destruction, where destruction has two aspects, namely covetousness and lie. His children standing here in front of the Lord Jesus reveal these characteristics. They want to kill Him because they are driven by their own covetousness and they use lies as a weapon to get rid of Him.
The devil is not only alien to life, in the sense that he has no life, but he is also out to take life away from every human being. That is his character right from the beginning of his existence as devil. He seeks to kill every human being. At the same time he is completely alien to the truth, he has no part in it. There is not a shred of truth in him. His nature is that of a liar. They only thing he can do is lie. When he claims something that resembles truth, it still comes from the lie, not from God and is meant to spread the lie. He is the source of the lie.
These people to whom the Lord speaks here have the devil to father. The Jews would rather believe the lie than the truth. By the way, this applies to all people. The Lord does not speak so much of a choice for the lie because they do not want to believe the truth, although that also is the case. He says that they do not believe Him because He is telling the truth.
Everything He says is the truth and absolutely free from any lie. His speaking of the truth reveals them as children of the devil. His speaking of the truth is diametrically opposed to their speaking of the lie and doing the desires of their father, the devil.
He alone can say, without any boasting, “Which one of you convicts Me of sin?” Never has any man been able to say that, be it the greatest sinner or the greatest apostle. Here two worlds stand opposite each other. He is telling the truth, He cannot do otherwise, for there is no sin in Him (1 John 3:5). So why don’t they believe? The Lord Himself gives the answer. Only he who is of God hears the words God speaks. They do not hear because they are not of God.
The Father Glorifies the Son
The Jews dare to pronounce the greatest blasphemy, that he has a demon. They do so because the Lord Jesus does not acknowledge them as of God, as God’s people. That is the greatest insult to them. Their reaction is extraordinarily vehement, as is always the case when a man is confronted with the falsehood of his religion, a religion that gives him all his importance. We have nothing else to expect. The disciple is like the Master.
How admirable is the reaction of the Lord after such a gross insult. It is an example for us, how we can react when such things are attributed to us. The Lord answers calmly that He has no demon, but that He honors the Father and that He Himself is dishonored by them because of that fact. He does not defend Himself, but surrenders everything to the Father. He is content to serve and is capable and ready to save.
This attitude clearly shows that He is not seeking His own glory, but the glory of the Father. Because He does so, He knows that the Father seeks His glory and will in His time make His judgment of His Son public. How completely different that judgment about Him will turn out to be compared to the judgment His opponents are now making about Him. In view of that time, the Lord expresses once more the great assurance that he who keeps His word will not taste of death for all eternity.
He again prefaces its great significance with the double and therefore emphatically “truly”, followed by the authoritative “I say to you”. He explicitly presents the greatness of the blessing that belongs to faith in Him in contrast to the darkness and death that belong to His adversaries.
For the Jews, too, this special assurance is nothing more than the affirmation of their prejudices. They are now completely convinced that He has a demon. How can He speak of “never taste of death” when all those great men from their ancestry have died, like Abraham and all the prophets? How could His word preserve from death?
What He has now said is, in their eyes, the pinnacle of contempt. Does He imagine Himself to be greater than Abraham? That is what His words lead them to believe. Their conclusion is correct, but in their blind unbelief they give that conclusion a false explanation. By pointing to the death of Abraham and the prophets, they think they have incontrovertible proof that His words have come to a dead end. They ask Him the challenging question which is full of unbelief: “Whom do You make Yourself out [to be]?”
The Lord continues to answer. It is not about Him wanting to convince them, because they do not want to be convinced. His concern is that He bears witness to His Father and how the Father judges everything. The judgment of people is of no significance to Him. Whether they want to make him King or kill Him is of no importance to Him. He does not seek the glorification of Himself in any way. He only seeks the Father’s judgment.
He knows that the Father finds joy in the way he bears witness to Him and that the Father glorifies Him for that. He Whom they call their God, but with Whom they have no living connection, is the One Who seeks the honor of the Son. They may call God ‘our’ God, but they do not know Him. The Son does know Him because He has come from Him.
The Lord adapts Himself to their use of speech when He suggests the possibility that He would be equal to them, a liar, if He said He did not know Him. To Him applies the opposite of what applies to them. They say they know God and they lie. He would be lying if He said He did not know God. It is one or the other. If we know God and in spite of that say we don’t know Him, we are also liars. That the Lord knows Him is apparent from keeping His word. For us, too, we can say that we know the Father, but that this is only evidenced by keeping His word.
Before Abraham Was Born, I Am
Then the Lord answers the question of whether He would perhaps be greater than Abraham. He speaks of “your father Abraham” because they boasted of being descendants of him. But how completely different did Abraham react to Him than they do now. Abraham rejoiced at what he saw of the Lord Jesus. Obviously, this ‘seeing’ is a seeing in faith and not in seeing as the Jews saw Him now, but therefore no less real.
Abraham has seen the day of the Lord Jesus in faith. On what occasion or occasions that was, the Lord does not disclose. We know some of the events in Abraham’s life to which He may refer. We know that Abraham had such great faith in God that he believed in Him as the God of the resurrection. We read about the joy of Abraham when Isaac (meaning laughter) is born from the dead womb of Sarah (Genesis 21:3; Genesis 21:6) through which the son of promise is as it were brought to life from the dead (Romans 4:17-Ecclesiastes :). In that laughter he has seen beyond the child in his arms: he has seen the Son in whom God’s promises are all yes and amen (2 Corinthians 1:20).
Another joy that Abraham undoubtedly enjoyed is when God gives Isaac back from the dead, as it were, after placing him on the altar (Genesis 22:12; Hebrews 11:19). This joy also extended to the resurrection of the Son from the dead. And did Abraham not look forward in faith to the city that has the foundations, of which God is Architect and Builder (Hebrews 11:10)?
“My day” is the day of the appearance of Christ in glory that Abraham anticipated in faith and that day delighted him. Abraham foresaw in faith the day of the revelation of the Son into the world and the establishment of His kingdom.
All of this goes far beyond the comprehension of the Jews. They understand nothing of it. They take everything in a limited, literal sense, because there is no faith with them. They react with the insulting remark as to how He, whom they estimate to be less than fifty years old, could have seen Abraham who lived many centuries ago?
By the way, this estimation of the Lord’s age could mean that the Lord looked older than He was. He was thirty-two or thirty-three years old, but the many sufferings He had come into contact with must have marked Him. It shows that He, Who is truly and eternally God the Son, is also truly Man.
In His answer He again gives a brilliant indication of His glorious, eternal, Divine Person. He does not say “before Abraham was borne, I was”, but “before Abraham was borne, I am”. When the Lord says “I am”, that again is the designation of His eternal Godhead as the “I am”, the eternal Being, the ever Existing. Abraham had a beginning. The Lord Jesus, God the Son, has no beginning. Everything has a beginning through Him.
Then the measure for the Jews is full and the conversation is over. They are so angry now that they can no longer hold back. They no longer have any words, only aggression seeking a way out by taking stones to throw at Him. But the Lord hides from them and leaves the temple.
This order is remarkable. It does not say that He flees the temple and then hides. The Lord radiates peace. It is also not plausible that the Lord hid Himself in some corner of the temple. It is more likely that He makes Himself invisible to His opponents or strikes them with blindness (cf. Genesis 19:11; 2 Kings 6:18). Previously, the Lord also prevented His opponents from killing Him by showing His divine power (cf. Luke 4:29-Amos :). In this way He withdraws from His enemies, to continue the way the Father wants Him to go.
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op John 8". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany