Read John 8:1-59
1But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" 6They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." 8Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"
11"No one, sir," she said.
"Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."
12When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."
13The Pharisees challenged him, "Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid."
14Jesus answered, "Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going. 15You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. 16But if I do judge, my decisions are right, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me. 17In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two men is valid. 18I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me."
19Then they asked him, "Where is your father?"
"You do not know me or my Father," Jesus replied. "If you knew me, you would know my Father also." 20He spoke these words while teaching in the temple area near the place where the offerings were put. Yet no one seized him, because his time had not yet come.
21Once more Jesus said to them, "I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come."
22This made the Jews ask, "Will he kill himself? Is that why he says, 'Where I go, you cannot come'?"
23But he continued, "You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am [the one I claim to be], you will indeed die in your sins."
25"Who are you?" they asked.
"Just what I have been claiming all along," Jesus replied. 26"I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is reliable, and what I have heard from him I tell the world."
27They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father. 28So Jesus said, "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am [the one I claim to be] and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. 29The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him." 30Even as he spoke, many put their faith in him.
31To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
33They answered him, "We are Abraham's descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?"
34Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37I know you are Abraham's descendants. Yet you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word. 38I am telling you what I have seen in the Father's presence, and you do what you have heard from your father."
39"Abraham is our father," they answered.
"If you were Abraham's children," said Jesus, "then you would do the things Abraham did. 40As it is, you are determined to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. 41You are doing the things your own father does."
"We are not illegitimate children," they protested. "The only Father we have is God himself."
42Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me. 43Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! 46Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don't you believe me? 47He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God."
48The Jews answered him, "Aren't we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?"
49"I am not possessed by a demon," said Jesus, "but I honor my Father and you dishonor me. 50I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. 51I tell you the truth, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death."
52At this the Jews exclaimed, "Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that if anyone keeps your word, he will never taste death. 53Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?"
54Jesus replied, "If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. 55Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and keep his word. 56Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad."
57"You are not yet fifty years old," the Jews said to him, "and you have seen Abraham!"
58"I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!" 59At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds. (NIV)
We’ll catch back up to chapter 8 now having done chapter 6, the chapter I accidentally skipped.
Chapter 8 begins with a well known image, the woman caught in adultery and brought before Jesus. Here we see three great principles at play in understanding who Jesus is. The first deals with Judgement. When we read the Gospels, it is clear that Jesus taught us to not judge lest we be judged. We were to forgive as we wished to be forgiven. The people wanted Jesus to accuse the woman. Jesus ignores their request and distracts them by bending down and doodling in the sand. As they press him, he says, the person who is without sin should cast the first stone. By saying this, he cast the spotlight from him back to the accusers. In this, Jesus did not deny the laws of Moses, but put the focus on how we live together and too often we are quick to judge rather than help.
And this leads us to the second point. Jesus always had empathy with people. I love what someone once noted about physicians. He said, a person with medical skills does not regard a person as loathsome who is suffering from a loathsome disease. We as Christians need to look at people the same way.
The third point we see is that Jesus doesn’t just tell the woman, “That’s okay and send her off.” He says, “I will not condemn you, go and sin no more.” He is in essence, as the one who will judge at the last is saying, I am withholding judgement at this time. I am giving you another chance to get your life straight. It is good that God gives us second, third and many more chances in life.
From here, we see that Jesus gets into another discussion about who he is. Here he switches to the metaphor that he is the Light of the World. We saw before he used the language of Bread of Life.
In verse 19, Jesus makes a statement he would repeat again, If you knew me, you know the Father. To know Christ is to know God. Jesus then spends a long dialogue about judgement that there is a time coming when he will judge and those leaders of the Jews will be found wanting.
This is the heart of the Gospel. To trust and believe in Jesus is to be free from judgement at the end of life. Jesus is the one who has the power to forgive or to not forgive. And really, he is not making the choice, but we are by deciding which side of Jesus we stand on. Do we stand with him or do we stand against him. Over and over in this passage, it comes out clearly, do you believe Jesus. He tells those in authority over and over, “you do not believe me, yet I am speaking to you.”
Jesus wants us to put our whole trust in him. It takes a lifetime to complete this task. But as we take on his qualities in life, to love, to forgive, to give second, and third chances, we learn to trust Jesus’ words.
What is the most difficult teaching of Jesus do you find hard to follow? For me, it is anger and judgement. I still allow others to get to me and I still have a tendency to judge people without knowing all the facts. It is so easy to do this. But I can also say that as I get older, I am getting better. I am still a work in progress.
But each day, I am learning to trust Jesus more and more.
Blessings and Peace.