Read John 8:12-59
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)
This is a long passage that shows the disconnect between the Pharisees and Jesus. We almost get the picture that each is using the same language, but the words mean something different for each side of the argument. And this is typical of John’s writing. We saw this is the interaction with Nicodemus. Jesus in that discussion also said, “I am speaking of heavenly things and you are speaking of earthly things.” This is important in our understanding of Christ, we need to go beyond our earthly view. Many times there is a literal view of what Jesus says, but there is also a deeper spiritual view of what he said.
But we also see in this exchange is that Jesus is saying that he has been consistent in saying who he is and the Pharisees have been consistent in not recognizing him. And then he interjects in various ways that a time is coming when you will realize who I am and it will be too late. A time is coming when all the clues you had in the beginning will finally make sense.
This is one of the quandaries we have with God. God is calling us, but we don’t hear him or we don’t understand him. We wonder why he doesn’t speak more plainly. But God is speaking as plainly as he can, it is just we don’t want to hear his call or we will only respond is we see a dramatic act or miracle in conjunction with his call. This was something that Jesus criticized many times, the people demand a sign.
But what Jesus is trying to point out is that as we put faith in him, it will be confirmed over time. This is how we grow in our faith and in our trust of Jesus. We have faith and then God is faithful. But one of the themes is that there will come a time when we can no longer start this journey of faith. It will be too late. We see this with Noah and the ark. There came a time when God shut Noah and his family in the ark and it was too late for any other living creature to come.
God calls each generation to him. And each generation must come anew to God. Our parents and grandparents teach us of God’s love, but we must say yes at some point.
When have you heard God’s calling on your life, but weren’t sure of it? I struggled with this in God calling me to the ministry. I waited and wondered for many years before saying yes. When have you seen God’s calling on your life confirmed over time? Have there been times when you could say, “yes, God has his hand in this thing in my life”?
God is calling each of us to his love. There will come a time when it is quite obvious, but it will be too late for some.
Blessings and Peace