Read John 12:20 – 36
John 12:20 begins with some Greek individuals (we’re not sure who they are) inquiring to Philip (a disciple) about meeting Jesus. We are not told specifically why they were so intent on speaking to him. Upon receiving this request Philip tells Andrew about these men and informs Jesus that there are some people would like to meet him. It appears Jesus completely ignores their request and gives a talk about glorification, wheat kernels, obedience, and losing your life. To make matters a little strange a thunderous voice from speaks from heaven (for the benefit of the people) that scares the bejeepers out of the people who heard it.
The core of this passage Jesus lays out before the people his purpose or reason in coming to the earth. In it He affirms and defines his purposes. He states that the hour has come or the time is near for his impending death. In his death he accomplishes his purpose which are to…
This was Jesus’ plan from the beginning of time and the time had come for his purposes to come to fruition.
Purpose… this is what I would like to write about today. I remember many years ago, long before I was a Christian, my “friends” and I would gather in the evening outside at old abandoned gas well site in Jamestown, NY. We would hang out with some drinks until the wee hours of the morning (many times until dawn). As the night grew later we would start talking about some pretty deep topics. Almost inevitable our discussions under a star lit sky would take a very deep turn from the insignificant to the significant. Someone would ask the question, “Do you guys ever wonder since we live in such a huge universe and we seem so miniscule and insignificant, why do you think we are here? What’s our purpose for being here?” Unfortunately I can’t remember the answers we came up with (and that probably doesn’t matter) I am sure they were quite interesting but the reality was even in our (often inebriated state) we knew that we had a reason for existence or a purpose in life.
“Why am I here?” “What is my purpose?” These are pretty common questions asked by millions of people day after day. Have you ever pondered your existence? Have you ever asked why am I here? What is my purpose in life? Maybe some of you are still wrestling with this today. It’s a good question to ask. Many of you have even read the best seller by Rick Warren “The Purpose Driven Life” where he tackles this question head on and I believe Warren does a great job helping the Christian come to terms with his reason for existence.
However I think it is extremely important for us as Christian individuals to know our purpose. We do have a reason for existence. Jesus knew exactly what his purpose was. How about you? Aside from God; having a purpose in life should be what keeps us going day after day. Hopefully you/we aren’t just eeking our way through life without a plan or purpose (like so many do) because you/we have no clue what our purposes are. I believe the Bible has much to say about purpose and I would like to share four of them with you this morning. Hopefully we can answer the question “why” both personally and as a congregation. These purposes are what I would call the foundational or entry level reasons for our being. Discovering our full purpose (beyond the foundational) is an adventure and one that goes beyond the individual self and ego and may take a lifetime to discover.
To Glorify God – I take the first purpose from The Westminster Shorter Catechism. This is a Christian creed that was drawn up in 1648 by the Westminster Assembly that was made up primarily of the Church of England. I believe it answers the question of our chief purpose in life. The catechism is a confession of faith that was written in a question answer format and reads like this, Q1: “What is the chief end of man?” Or what is our purpose? Answer “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.” I think this is a beautiful statement and defines up front the core of our purpose. The author’s of this confession site 1 Cor. 10:31… In all that you do, do it for the glory of God (my translation). We were created for more than mere existence we were created to worship God and to praise his name. Not only are we to stop with worshiping God but we are also to enjoy him. I think we sometimes forget this part. We were created by God for him. We bring pleasure to God. So we need to take pleasure in him.
To Walk With God (Discipleship) - We were created by God for God (for his own pleasure) to walk with Him. We need only look to the Gospels to see the truth in this. Jesus became human and walked among humanity. He chose 12 men to walk with him and show them the way to the Kingdom of God. Certainly God could have just programmed the “how to’s of following him” into our brains and just been done with it but instead he sent his son Jesus to walk among the people and physically touch and interact his creation.
As Christians we are called to walk with Jesus or better yet we are called to discipleship. There is a misnomer that discipleship is a program intended only for those who really want to grow in their faith. Being a disciple is not a program it is who you are. We are ALL called to discipleship. We are Christ’s representatives in this world. We are light bearers (as John 12:36 implies). A disciple of Christ simply means following Jesus’ teachings and living in obedience to his word. At the core a disciple is someone who has devoted his life to serving King Jesus in all areas of his life. This entails obedience and submission. We are to obey and submit the commands of Jesus (which can be broken down into the irreducible core…. Love God, Love others, and as you go make disciples of all nations.)
To Journey Together (Relationships) – We are also created to be relational beings. One of the first things we can note in the creation account of Genesis is God saying, “It is not good for man to be alone.” We sometimes take this to only mean that a man needs a woman or vice versa but I believe it means more than male female relationship. God created us to not only to have a relationship with us but also for us to have relationship with each other. In John 17 we read of Jesus’ High Priestly prayer and in his prayer he prays for his disciples. He prays that his followers become one just as he and the Father are one. Part of being a disciple entails being in relationships with other believers. The truth is we cannot successfully live the Christian life by ourselves. We need each other. If Jesus intended the Christian life to be an isolated thing then he would have called one disciple instead of twelve. Just look at the twelve disciples and see the diversity in the group to see the need for community. Did they always get along? Hardly! It seemed as though Jesus was always putting out little fires (or skirmishes) within his group. We also read of jealousy, anger, and backbiting within this group of ragtag believers. However imperfect or flawed the twelve were they still journeyed together with Jesus and it wasn’t always pretty but it worked. There was a family bond within that group that could not be broken. My prayer is that we as a church body could learn to do this as well.
To Share the Good News (Evangelism) – In Jesus’ Great Commission he says, “Pray about going to all the nations and if you feel led make disciples of those you come in contact with. But if you feel uncomfortable talking about this Good News then just stay inside you Christian bubble and let others do it for you.” Oh wait that’s how we translate the Great Commission. Matthew 28:19, 20 reads like this “Therefore GO (emphasis mine) and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Let’s break this commission down… in the previous verses Jesus gives all authority has been given to Jesus to commission these men (disciples) to go (not sit around and wait for people to come to them) and make disciples of all nations. We are to share the Good News with people. Disclaimer it does not say “Go out and be an annoying Bible thumping, self righteous and egotistical person telling people how they should live.” No he says, “Go and share the Good News (tell of what Jesus has done).” Go out and encourage others to walk with God and when they have come to Christ take them under your wing and teach them about Jesus’ commands. Prepare them to go out and make disciples.
At the core there is a plan and a purpose for our existence. The four I shared with you today are foundational. Our primary reason for existence is to glorify or worship God. Why wouldn’t we? He created us, he loves us, and He provides for us, He has given everything for us. Worshiping God should be the core of who were are as human beings. May our lives reflect this in the way we live before our God, Creator and King.
Read John 12:12 - 19
In the Christian calendar year we observe two holy days specifically to commemorate our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ they are Christmas and Easter. On December 25th (although this isn’t really the day he was born) we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ who came into this world as a human. We recount the Nativity story of Joseph, Mary, little baby Jesus, the star, the Magi, and the shepherds which is our background for this special day. During Christmas we rejoice that God in human flesh came as the man Jesus and dwelt among us to show us the way to the Kingdom of Heaven. At least this is what this one day of Christmas should represent to us believers.
Easter is the time we reflect on the death and resurrection of Jesus. It is during this time we are reminded of the painful and grueling death our savior endured to atone for our sins. We also rejoice in the truth that Jesus didn’t stay dead; he rose from the grave and is alive today seated at the right hand of the Father. The Bible tells us Jesus did this so anyone who puts their faith and trust in him and live in obedience to him can also share in this resurrected life he offers us which we know as eternal life.
Lent signifies the sacred 40 day preparation of the believer for the Easter season. We also observe an entire week prior to resurrection day called Palm Sunday. Today is Palm Sunday and it ushers in the time that we call “Holy Week”. Since today is Palm Sunday and next week is Easter I have decided to push pause on our series “The Gospel of John: Jesus - The True Story” for this week and next in observance of these two significant events in the story of Jesus and celebrate that Jesus came to this earth to redeem humanity. He came so that all who believe in Him would have eternal life.
The Story – (Outline)
So many people (maybe even you) are like the crowd of people. When the reason for rejoicing and praise is before you; all the people around you are praising the name of Jesus and declaring Him king of your life. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and have an intense emotional experience. However when things don’t go your way or something bad happens so many are quick to turn their back on Jesus and find them like the riotous mob that turned on Jesus and demanded his death.
The challenge and question before us today is, “Are you in this for the duration?” Are you committed to being a full on disciple of Jesus Christ? Are you willing to praise him in the glorious sun shine of the morning as well as the darkness of the night? Are we willing to put our cloaks on the ground and praise the King for salvation? Are we determined to follow and commit to our Lord during the good times and also during the troubled times? This is your challenge for today and for the week. Praise the King for he has come! Praise the King for he has died a death so we might live. Praise the King for he is alive today and among us.
 Wright, N.T. (2004) Matthew For Everyone Part Two p. 67 Westminster John Knox Press
Read John 11:45 – 12:11
Jesus just performed one of his greatest miracles by publicly raising a man from the dead. One would think that the response from the crowd would be amazement, belief and reverential awe for God, but we find the response is actually mixed. The text tells us that many (most) of the Jews who were with them believed. Now these were not the Jewish leaders but the text suggests these are Jewish friends of Mary and Martha who had come to grieve and give condolences for the passing of their brother. We also read that some immediately left and went to the Jewish authorities and ratted Jesus out. This is a key spot in the Gospel of John because from this point the remainder of the Gospel of John deals primarily with the events that lead up to and end with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. We have spent eleven and a half chapters covering three and half years of Jesus’ life and now the remaining ten chapters focus primarily on the final six days of Jesus’ life. We now enter the phase of Jesus’ life that I am calling the beginning of the end.
Verse 45: It’s amazing to see the responses to this miracle. There are two responses.
Verses 47 – 48: The Jewish authorities called council together and began talking about what must be done to stop Jesus. You and I know he had done nothing wrong and in reality the Jews knew this as well. They were not concerned with his good deeds, they were worried that he was gaining a large following and people were beginning to believe he was the Messiah. They were afraid people would start putting their allegiances in Jesus and as a result would attract the attention of the Romans. When they saw this band of followers they would assume a revolt was on the horizon and they would put it to an end. They feared the Romans would come in and violently take their land and disperse the people. Obviously the Jews did not want this to happen. They were mostly concerned that Jesus’ agenda would disrupt the peace (never in a million years would they think it would in fact bring peace). The truth is God’s agenda did not fit their agenda. In actuality God’s agenda was not even on their radar. They had no clue God was up to something and even if he was they had no interest in it.
Verses 49 – 53: Caiaphas (the High Priest) spoke words that rang true and yet he had no idea how true his words were. He was not a follower of Jesus. His conclusion was if Jesus dies the nation of Israel will be saved. This is true… however he was thinking if they dispose of Jesus then Rome will have no reason to come and take their land and peace will continue. If Jesus dies Israel will be left alone.
The truth is Jesus’ death would in fact save the nation of Israel but not in the way they were thinking. Through Jesus’ death salvation would be available to the whole nation of Israel (and Gentiles) to all who believed. The death of Jesus is inevitable it is part of the plan of restoration. Even Caiaphas received a prophecy about the death of Jesus. Calvary was God’s Plan A… There was no Plan B, C, or D. Jesus knew this as this was the purpose of his coming.
The conclusion the Jewish authorities come to is we must kill him. Thus a plot to kill him began.
Verse 54: Jesus goes underground. Apparently Jesus knew of this plot and he goes to Ephraim. This is about 15 miles from Jerusalem and is located close to the wilderness. Jesus’ staying there was probably strategic in case he needed to escape to the wilderness if he was sought out.
Verse 55: Passover nears. Passover is the chief Holy day of the three annual festivals of the Jews. For a complete historical background on Passover I would suggest you read Exodus 12-13. In a nutshell Passover is a remembrance of the Lord’s passing over the house of the Israelites during the tenth plague in Egypt (death of the firstborn). It is also known as the Feast of Unleavened Bread because unleavened bread was to be eaten and kept in the household. Passover was a big deal and people came from all over to Jerusalem to undergo a ceremonial cleaning before entering the Passover celebration.
Verse 56 - 57: The Jews figured Jesus would come for the ritual of cleansing so they devised a plot to arrest Jesus.
Verses 1 – 3: Six days before Passover Jesus goes to Lazarus’s house. A meal is prepared and He is anointed with very expensive perfume by Mary. She uses her hair to wipe his feet. This is an act of worship on Mary’s part. In this act of worship she is declaring the value of Christ to her. As we will see in a few verses this perfume could have been sold for a year’s wages so this was a very costly act of worship. In essence Mary was declaring that there is nothing more valuable to her than Jesus.
Verses 4 – 6: Judas questions the “wastefulness” of expensive oil. Judas had no care for the poor he was just a greedy thief. He tried to spiritualize his shortsightedness by stating they could use the funds to give to the poor but John tells us he had no concern for the poor.
How often do we do this in our own lives and church? How often do we spiritualize what we think we should do concerning something so we can get our way? Many times these are used as stall tactics to stop something that is happening that we don’t want to happen. Or we try to use God’s name as a reason for not doing something when in fact it is ourselves who really don’t want to do something. These are narrow sighted acts. When we do this we don’t see with eyes of faith and worship (or even appreciate the value of Christ and feel he is worth the investment) instead we do or promote that which seems logical, sensible and reasonable as an excuse to do nothing and keep things for ourselves. We try to manipulate by using God’s name. Can you think of a time when you have done this in your life?
In life we are to use logic and reason to make decisions but logic and reason should not be the only way we make decisions. God does not always take the logical and reasonable route to accomplish his will (ask Jonah, Peter, and millions of Christians around the world who have taken the risk to follow God). We need to be sensitive to his Spirit and be willing to “risk” everything for him and his glory.
Verses 7 – 8: Jesus rebukes Judas. He tells Judas to leave Mary alone because what she is doing is a good thing. There will always be opportunities to serve the poor and meet their needs, but what Mary is doing now super cedes the needs of the poor.
Romans 8:31 – 39
Ephesians 2:4 – 10
2 Thessalonians 2:13 – 16
1 John 4:10, 11
You… We… are so precious to him that he gave everything for us. We/you are worth the investment in the eyes of our Savior. Reflect on this today in your personal time. Come to terms with the fact that you are of such high value to God you were worth dying for in order to save. If Christ values you this much then how much should you value him in your life?
There is about a 400 year gap between the Old and New Testament. This period of time is called the silent years; because during these 400 years God did not raise up any prophets to speak to or through the nation of Israel. However during these 4 centuries much happened and most of what we know happened is found in extra-biblical sources. You can read various books or look online to see a more detailed account of the 400 years between the Testaments.
One of the most well known “events” if you will that happened during these silent years is one I would like to briefly share with you this morning to serve as a background to the message for today. I apologize in advance if it comes across as a high school lecture; but it is a part of Jewish history that remains alive today and is celebrated with eight joyous days of festivity.
The date that is of significance to this account is around 175 B.C. when a king named Antiochus IV Epiphanes came into power over the Seleucid Empire. He was a vile, ruthless, corrupt and violent ruler. During his reign (175 – 164 B.C) he did many horrible atrocities around the empire. Palestine was part of this empire and he accepted bribes from a man named Jason to become the High Priest of the Temple in Jerusalem. This went against the Jewish custom of being a descendant of the Levite tribe. His goal was to “initiate his countrymen into the Greek way of life.’” He began banning lawful institutions and introducing new customs contrary to the law. Jason had no care for temple worship or services. Many of the offerings made were to Greek gods and the money given for offerings were used to build battleships. Over time and unbeknownst to him Jason was outbid for the High Priest seat by a man named Menalaus. He was even crueler and had “the rage of a wild beast”. Over time the affairs of the High Priest’s (Jason and Menalaus) became so outrageous that Antiochus (on his way back from being defeated in Egypt) visited Jerusalem. He pillaged the temple with Melanaus as his guide by taking vessels and desecrating the Holiest of Holies by entering it. He seized Jerusalem in 167 B.C. and 40,000 were lost to death (including women and children) and 40,000 were sold as slaves. He forbid sacrifices in the Temple and erected an altar to Zeus on top of the old altar. He sent out a senator to force the Jews to abandon their customs and live no longer by the laws of God. The Temple was profaned all the more as Temple prostitutes began working and soliciting in the sacred court. Anyone who wouldn’t adapt to the ways of the Greeks was put to death. During this time many Jews became Hellenist’s (adopting Greek culture theirs and forsaking their old culture).
During this time a man named Mattathias angrily killed a Jew and a Syrian officer who had come to sacrifice on the royal altar. He called upon the zealots who wanted to take back their land to follow him and his five sons. They began using Guerilla warfare tactics and terrorizing apostates, destroyed altars and enforced Jewish law. Upon his death his son Juda(h)s Maccabeus rose to become leader and under his lead won numerous victories over Syrian forces and gained momentum. Antiochus was engaged in a larger war and had no option but to pull his troops and withdraw his decrees over Israel. In 165 B.C. Judas marched to Jerusalem, restored the Temple and re-instituted Temple worship.
The Jews commemorate this victory to this day and call itthe Feast of Dedication, Festival of lights or more commonly known as Hanukkah which falls on the 25th of Kislev (November/December). This is the Feast spoken of at the beginning of our text and thus we can begin our journey into John 10:22 – 42.
Read John 10:22 - 42
Verse 22, 23: John informs us of the time this next encounter with the Jews Jesus has. It is during the Festival of Dedication (which is around November/December). This was not a scripturally instituted Festival. It was still a relatively new or recent celebration. Jesus is walking in Solomon’s Colonnade or Portico which is a covered walkway formed by rows of columns.
Verse 24: The Jewish authorities (these usually, but not always, refer to the opponents of Jesus) approach Jesus and ask them how long he is going to keep them in suspense regarding who he is. This could also be translated in the negative sense, “How long will you annoy us?” They wanted to clear issues up so they point blank tell him, “If you are the Messiah then just tell us publicly.” One could almost imagine the authorities were waiting for Jesus’ response expecting to either rebut his claims or make charges against him. I think it is safe to say they were not truly seeking the answer.
Verse 25: Jesus does not oblige them with an open confession. Instead he says, “I have pretty much made it clear who I am through the works I do; yet you refuse to believe.” He is not talking here about a specific time or event when he publicly proclaimed yet all he has done certainly points to the fact that he is the Messiah. These works he refers to should speak for themselves. What he has done bears witness to Father and not to himself and they give pretty obvious reference to who he is.
Verses 26: His works should make it crystal clear as to whom he is but the Jews refuse or can’t believe because they are not part of his flock that he spoke of earlier in the chapter. These leaders are not called sheep that are known by the shepherd or know the shepherd’s voice. In so many ways Jesus is saying there is no way you will or can believe my claims because you are blind and you are not sheep. No amount of reason, logic, signs, wonders, or apologetics will convince these men because they are blind and not sheep of his flock.
Verses 27: His point is/was if they were of his flock then they would see who He is without actually needing to hear him say who He is. They would recognize him for who he is and would follow him.
Verse 28: Here is the promise of the Great Shepherd; sheep has received eternal (everlasting, never ceasing, life with no end) life (which begins today). The sheep will be kept secure for they will never perish (they will never die, or never be lost without a shepherd) AND no person, power or authority can snatch (pluck, carry off or seize) the sheep from the hands of the Great Shepherd. As his sheep we are safe, secure, protected and granted eternal life.
Verse 29: The Father is superior to all. He is greatest of all and He has given the sheep to Jesus and nothing can pluck or snatch the sheep from his hands. Who can steal from God? He can overpower the Almighty God? The answer is no one.
Verse 30: “I and the Father are one” Some versions say the “Father and I are one” to reflect the English style. This is definitely a declaration of oneness or equality of Father and Son. According to the New English Translation (NET), “The assertion is not that Jesus and the Father are one person, but one ‘thing’. The identity of the two persons is not what is asserted, but essential unity (unity of essence)” is what is implied. This verse (as one can imagine) has caused great controversy over it’s meaning for some time. This keeps in line with Jesus’ continual reference to being unified with the Father. Everything Jesus does is because the Father allows him. He can do nothing without the Father.
Verse 31 - 33: Regardless of what people (namely Jehovah’s Witnesses) think about the Oneness of the Father and Son the response was not positive. Jesus’ claims of being one with the Father clearly implied more than being mutually linked (like husband and wife become one or a father and a son are one because they are of the same bloodline) because the response of the Jews clearly tells us what the Jews heard Jesus saying. The Jews picked up rocks to stone Jesus. Clearly if he was making a general reference to being casually linked to the Father then the Jews were overreacting.
Jesus asks, “For what purpose or good work do you intend to stone me?” The Jews clearly heard Jesus making claims to being equal with God because they said they are not stoning him for any good work, they are stoning him for blasphemy.
Blasphemy (Greek) – Slander, speech injurious to another’s good name (in this case God), impious and reproachful speech injurious to divine majesty. According to the collegiate dictionary blasphemy is the act of insulting or contempt or lack of reverence for God. 2. Acts of claiming the attributes of a deity. 3. Irreverence toward something considered sacred.
The charge of blasphemy according to the Jews… “You a man are claiming to be God.” Not “a god” (as the NWT translates it) as the Jehovah Witnesses like to change scripture to fit their theology not vice versa.
Verse 34: Jesus quotes part of Psalm 82:6. If you read the Psalm God makes reference to something being “gods”. Many believe “gods” refers to Israel, leaders/rulers or fallen angels. There is some uncertainty as to who God is addressing in this Psalm but it seems very likely it is Israel because in the verses to follow we see Jesus referring to himself as the son of God and in Exodus 4:21 God refers to Israel as the “firstborn son of God”. Although it is uncertain who He speaks of we can be certain he is not referring to Himself.
Verse 35 - 36: Jesus basically says, “If God called Israel gods and you do not accuse him of blasphemy then why do you marvel or get all worked up because I call myself the Son of God”?
Verse 37, 38: If the works Jesus does do not point to God, then do not believe him. BUT if I do them and they are the works of God and they cannot bring themselves to believe in Jesus then at least believe the works are from God so that they may understand the two are equal (and this will develop more in the later chapters).
Verses 39: Obviously not convincing the Jews in his statements they sought to arrest him, but he escaped and went across the Jordan to the place where John baptized.
As we have looked at the passage today a lot of information has been passed along. The question for us is, “What will we do with this information?” Will we store it in a compartment in the back of our brain and ad it to the wealth of information that our feeble minds can contain? Will we let it fly in one ear and out the other and never think about it again? Or will we take what was given and think on it, pray about it, allow it to take root in our hearts as we check it against scripture? May we either begin or continue to gain a better understanding of who Jesus is and as our Great Shepherd follow him as completely dependant sheep who entrust our very lives and beings to Him? Can we trust the Shepherd is one with the Father and all He does or has done is to point the sheep to the Father who leads us to the fold where we will receive life everlasting and receive it in abundance so we may live our lives completely and securely under the watch of our Great Shepherd, Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?
Shepherding is one of the oldest occupations in history. It is believed to have had its beginnings about 6,000 years ago in Asia Minor. In many societies shepherding was important to the economy. Shepherds were largely nomadic and lived solitary lives away from society.
The duties of a shepherd in an unenclosed country like Palestine were very (difficult). “In early morning he led forth the flock from the fold, marching at its head to the spot where they were to be pastured. Here he watched them all day, taking care that none of the sheep strayed, and if any for a time eluded his watch and wandered away from the rest, seeking diligently till he found and brought it back. In those lands sheep require to be supplied regularly with water, and the shepherd for this purpose has to guide them either to some running stream or to wells dug in the wilderness and furnished with troughs. At night he brought the flock home to the fold, counting them as they passed under the rod at the door to assure himself that none were missing. Nor did his labours always end with sunset. Often he had to guard the fold through the dark hours from the attack of wild beasts, or the wily attempts of the prowling thief.” 
Read John 10:1 -18
This talk happens after Jesus’ encounter with the Pharisees and he accuses them of being unable to see (being spiritually blind) and as he gives account for healing the blind man (John 9).
Verse 1: “Truly, Truly”… some versions say “I tell you the truth” (Amen/Amen). At the beginning of a discourse Amen means “surely or this is the truth”. At the end of a talk the word amen means “so be it.”
Sheepfold – The part of a home that has a hall, or an area that is uncovered and walled in where the stables stood. This is where the shepherd would keep the flocks and they would abide there at night (providing they were close to home) for security and food. There was a formal door the shepherd would use to enter and exit which was guarded.
Thieves and robbers – (Probably referring to the religious leaders who want to control instead of guide and care for the sheep- who are the people). Anyone/anything who would attempt to enter the sheepfold by any other means than the door was there to steal, kill or harm the sheep. They would be entering illegally with intent to harm and steal.
Verse 2, 3: The only one allowed to enter the door is the shepherd and the sheep. At the door a gatekeeper is present and he knows the shepherd and gives access to the shepherd.
The sheep – The sheep belong to the shepherd and follow him because they know and trust he will watch, lead and keep them safe. He is their master and leader and they are devoted to him.
“He calls them by name” – The shepherd (no matter how large the fold) knows the names of the sheep and calls them by their names. He has a close personal relationship and investment in his flock.
Verse 4: The shepherd calls them, leads them and brings them out to pasture and water. He goes before the sheep and finds green pasture for the sheep to eat and watering holes for the sheep to drink. He also watches over the flock so nothing can harm the sheep. The sheep know the voice of their shepherd and they also know he cares for them and is committed to keeping them safe.
Verses 5: The sheep know the shepherds voice and will not follow a stranger. It doesn’t matter if the stranger knows all their names they will not follow. They don’t know the voice nor trust the person.
Verses 6: As Jesus used this figure of speech or metaphor of sorts the listeners were confused. Once again this is showing the spiritual blindness of the religious leaders.
Verse 7, 8: The Door: Jesus is not the shepherd (in this instance, but later refers to himself as the good shepherd in verse 11) but he is the door. He affirms this in verses 7 and 9. Jesus is the means to access to the fold. Know one can gain access to the fold without entering through the gate or the door. There are no other ways. In so many words Jesus is affirming the narrow-ness of becoming a member of the fold. There is only one way and it is through Jesus.
The sheep represent believers or followers of Jesus Christ. In order to enter the fold one must be a sheep. Seeing the loyalty, trust and dependency the sheep have on the shepherd it is no wonder we are called sheep because we are to have this same relationship with Jesus that a sheep has with its shepherd.
Thieves and robbers – As I noted earlier probably refers to the religious leaders of the time. It definitely represents anyone who tries to steal away the sheep or cause harm to any of them.
Verse 9: “I am the door” – D.A. Carson writes, “Here the idea is not that Jesus the shepherd draws out his own flock from a rather mixed fold, but that Jesus the gate is the sole means by which the sheep may enter the safety of the fold or the luxurious forage of the pasture… this is a proverbial way of insisting that there is only one means of receiving eternal life – Jesus alone.”
Anyone trying to enter the fold through any other means than through the door (Jesus) will be cast out. Entering through the door is synonymous to having saving faith in Jesus Christ. He is clearly establishing the “ground rules” if you will to having eternal life. In order for one to enter the fold (becoming a believer) they must first be called by the shepherd and willingly submit and commit to the shepherd (Jesus).
Verse 10: The thieves (religious leaders) have only come to destroy (manipulate power and control) but Jesus came to bring life and to give it in abundance. We often forget this small passage. Jesus didn’t just give us enough life so we can get through this life so when we die we get the goods. No, Jesus came to give life TODAY and give it in abundance. We are to live our lives for today seizing the opportunity to fully live our lives for his glory and with joy! I know Christians who are just living out their lives until they die and only long for heaven so they can leave this rotten world and most of them are miserable saps. Sure we should all long for heaven but we should also live our lives for Jesus today, tomorrow and in the years to follow. Jesus hasn’t just given us enough life to just get through this life… He has given us an abundance of life and we should take every opportunity to use it for his glory.
Verse 11: Verses 7 – 10 depict Jesus as the gate. Verses 11 -18 depict Jesus as the shepherd.
“The Good Shepherd” – The excellent, precious, competent, or able shepherd. What makes Jesus the good shepherd is the fact that he lays down his life for the sheep. Any good shepherd will risk his life for his sheep. He will fight off beasts; he will rescue them from dangerous places and he is willing to die in order to keep his sheep safe. However Jesus isn’t saying that he is just willing to risk his life for his sheep. When he says he lays down his life this is a matter of what is going to happen not what might happen if he needs to. He appoints his life for the sheep and he WILL die for his flock so they may be redeemed… this is a matter of fact.
D.A. Carson writes, “The shepherd does not die for his sheep to serve as an example, throwing himself off a cliff in a grotesque and futile display while bellowing, “See how much I love you?” No, the assumption is that the sheep are in mortal danger; that in their defense the shepherd loses his life; that by his death they are saved.”
Verse 12, 13: The hired hand is not the same as the robber and thieves. The hired hand is not necessarily evil (however he is not portrayed in a positive light). He is just the one who is in it for the pay. He does his job for the money. His concern isn’t for the sheep as much as it is about the payment for the work. The person who is hired and has no investment in the fold does not care genuinely as the one who owns. When things get rough for the hireling he can leave. Giving his life for the sheep is not an option because he is not willing to die for the sheep if ever needed.
Verse 14, 15: “I am the Good Shepherd…” Jesus knows those who belong to him. Take a moment and let that sink in. If you are a believer in Jesus it is because He called you by name, He chose you to be part of His flock; He willingly died for you so you can have an abundance of life.
The word “know” is an intimate word. It isn’t a general, “yeah I know her”, but has also been used as a Jewish idiom for intimate intercourse between a male and female. It is a type of “oneness”. Jesus is one with his flock. Our relationship with Jesus could/should be the same as the relationship between the Father and the Son.
Verse 16: “I have sheep that are not of this fold…” would probably refer to Gentiles. The Jews thought salvation was reserved for them alone because they were God’s chosen race. However we see Jesus tells us there are some sheep who are not of this fold who will hear his voice and respond. Thankfully Jesus expands his folds to us who are not of the Jewish fold.
Verses 17, 18: The Father and the Son’s love are directly linked to Jesus’ death and resurrection. This is a very interesting passage to me because Jesus GIVES HIS LIFE (it is not taken from him) in order to be raised again. Jesus’ death AND resurrection has always been the plan. It has always been plan A, B & C. The resurrection was not something God thought of after Jesus was crucified. Jesus went to the cross knowing he would live again.
Verse 18 tells us so much about the death and resurrection. You have probably heard a discussion or read an article about “who killed Jesus?” Was it the Romans? Was it the Jews? Was it sin? Was it humanity? The answer is none of the above. Jesus was not killed, he gave his life… He laid it down. He did it on his own accord. Jesus had/has authority over death. He submitted to it on his terms. In the same sense Jesus has the authority for resurrection. This authority was given by the Father.
If Jesus has the authority over death and the resurrection in his life can you trust he has authority over them in yours? Do you believe Jesus is willing and able to raise you up on the last day? We have no reason to fear death because death is subject to Jesus and we are in Jesus so death has no dominion over us. Sure we will all die one day but we also live in the hope and expectation that we will also be resurrected through the authority of Jesus.
I would encourage you to really take some time and think about this passage. Think about all that it entails in your life. Think about the willingness of Jesus to lay down his life for you. Think about how his sole purpose in coming to this earth was to show people the way to the Kingdom of God and provide a means of access to it. In believing and having faith in Jesus be assured that you have been given life and have been given it in abundance.
Easton, M. (1996, c1897). Easton's Bible dictionary. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
On July 30th 1967 the life of a young 17 year old girl was impacted forever. Joni Eareckson was like any other teenager as she spent a hot summer day swimming in the Chesapeake Bay with friends. When she unknowingly dove into shallow water she did not know that her life would forever be impacted. After diving into the waters she broke her neck and ultimately became a quadriplegic from the shoulders down. At the young age of 17 when teens are supposed to be enjoying life and preparing for their future Joni’s life was virtually over as she knew it. No longer would she be able to go for bike rides, long walks (or any walks for that matter), dance, swim or any other things average teenagers did.
Prior to the accident, for two years, she went through strenuous rehab. She struggled with anger, bitterness and depression. Joni asked the question that many who face adversity ask, “God, why did you allow this to happen to me?” She wrestled with this question for years. Over time as she grew older she began to see her handicap so much as not God’s punishment in her life but God’s blessing. Eventually she found herself no longer asking “Why?” but instead, “How can I be a vessel for the glory of God?”
Many of you know Joni has emerged despite her handicap as a talented artist (she would paint with her mouth beautiful pictures with great detail), an inspirational speaker and motivator for people with handicaps. She has become a speaker who gives encouragement to others with handicaps and shares about her great love for God. She shares how God used her tragedy and handicap for his glory and honor in her life. Her story has been shared around the world in both book and movie format and she has been an inspiration for men and women for over 40 years. This certainly does not mean life has been a bundle of roses or that she has never had struggles with doubt. She has come away from this tragedy stronger in her faith and uses her story to inspire others and their need for God. Joni has written, "This paralysis is my greatest mercy…. The greatest good suffering can do for me is to increase my capacity for God.”
In July of 2010 Joni faced another unexpected turn in her life when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was not about to let this get her down nor cause her to turn her back on God. She wrote on her web page, "I want to assure you that I am genuinely content to receive from God whatever He deems fit for me even if it is from His left hand because better something from His left hand than no hand at all, right?" Joni Eareckson Tada is truly a woman of inspiration, faith and encouragement.
Read John 9:1-12
Verse 1: As Jesus was walking the disciples noticed a man who was blind from birth (we are not told how they knew he was born blind) and the disciples asked a question of why this man was born blind. The disciples, like most Jews of their day, believed that the reason someone has an ailment or handicap is because of a certain sin.
Verse 2: They ask Jesus is it because of his sin, or the sins of his parents that he is born blind. Some Jews believed it was possible for a person to sin in the womb or that a sin the parent commits could in some way incriminate this person. For example A pregnant woman who worships in a pagan temple, her unborn baby would be regarded as participating in the worship.
Verse 3: Notice Jesus doesn’t deny the identifying of sin with suffering, but he does deny that all suffering universally is directly related to sin. Nor is he implying that this man does not have sin in his life. Instead Jesus responds that it is neither the man’s nor his parents’ sins that implicate him. In this case it was so the works of God could be manifested.
Verse 4, 5: Here Jesus includes the disciples in his work “we must do the works of him while it is still light.” Jesus’ specific ministry to the world was to point people to the Kingdom of God and ultimately make a way through his death and resurrection into this kingdom. So as long as He was present with the disciples he will heal, perform miracles and do the works of God.
“Night is coming…” We are all on this earth for a limited time. What we do with our time here on earth matters. When we are alive and walking this earth it is important and necessary to be a light, walk in the light and do works that bring glory to God. Because when our time is up, our time is up. Jesus knew his impending death was looming on the horizon and he was not going to miss any opportunities to glorify God.
Verses 6 – 8: Jesus spits on the ground and makes mud and places it on this mans eyes and tells him to wash in the pool of Siloam. Upon doing so the man truly sees that Jesus is the light of the world as he now has his sight back.
Verses 9 – 12: Of course this miracle cannot happen without incident. As people saw this man walking around; they realized who he was. Some thought it was a person who looked like him and others were convinced this was the man who has been blind his whole life. The man assured the people he was indeed the person they thought he was and recounted the story of how he received sight.
I started this blog with the story of Joni Eareckson Tada because I felt it fit with today’s text and addresses the issue of why pain, suffering, sickness and death happen in the world today. Today I would like to show four reasons why suffering, death and tribulation occur in our lives. It is not necessarily a complete list but it is biblical. Whether the trials, tribulations or tragedy come in form of an expensive car repair after a nice vacation or the untimely death of a friend or loved one.
Since suffering and sickness and trials and tragedy happen I believe how we respond is key.
My prayer for today is that in the midst of our trials, tribulations, sufferings, pain and even death that God is glorified. I pray we could become men and women who rejoice in trials, trust during tribulation and endure with prayer, praise and patience. I believe this is impossible to do in our own power. It is through the strength and power of the Holy Spirit present in our lives that we are able to get through our troubling times. So may we become people empowered by the Spirit to live our lives for the glory of God whether in pain and suffering or through blessings and good health. May God be glorified in all seasons of our lives.
 Carson, D.A. (1991) The Gospel According to John p. 362 Grand Rapids, MI: William B Eerdman’s Publishing Co.
In 1993 the Fox Network aired pilot episodes to, what I believe, one of the greatest and most successful science fiction television shows in the broadcasting company’s history. The show was called The X-Files. I am a huge fan and unfortunately after nine intense seasons the show was cancelled by the network due to low ratings. Until recently it was the longest running sci-fi television shows in the networks history and had gained a loyal cult following.
The X-Files was a show about searching and finding the truth; in fact the show’s opening sequence concludes with the statement “The Truth Is Out There”. This truth was the supposed truth that the government has conspired to keep the reality of the paranormal, supernatural or alien life forms hidden from the general public and the government would spare no expenses covering up any evidence of any paranormal activity. (Now I am sure I have lost some of you because you could give a rip about science fiction and aliens but bear with me for a moment.)
The show features Fox Mulder and Dana Scully who are FBI Agents assigned to what the government calls “The X-Files”. These are unsolved cases involving paranormal, supernatural or unnatural activity and unexplained events (i.e. alien abduction, supernatural occurrences etc.). Mulder is the overzealous FBI agent who is fervently seeking evidence to prove the existence of alien life forms and expose the governments plot to keep all this under wraps. He is also trying to locate or discover what happened to his younger sister who he believes was abducted by aliens. Scully is the skeptic medical doctor assigned to investigate Mulder’s findings and give scientific analysis to his findings. Basically her job is to debunk anything Mulder discovers.
For nearly nine seasons I enjoyed watching this show and was always intrigued by the various topics the episodes dealt with. Some were traditional sci-fi alien stories; others were religious or supernatural in nature and most were just plain weird. However I always loved the tagline “The Truth Is Out There”. I loved this because the Bible has so much insight in regards to the TRUTH. I am a person who cannot watch a fiction or science fiction show or movie without looking for some sort of spiritual tie in. There is so much fiction and science fiction media (i.e. books, movies and television shows) that does tie into the spiritual (not always for the good) that can certainly get people thinking about our mere existence and about the words of the Bible.
“What is truth?” This question has been asked by individuals for centuries. We know Pontius Pilate asks Jesus in the Gospel of John and many have and are still asking today. Jesus has a lot to say about the truth in the scriptures and he addresses it today. It is interesting to note that Jesus and the Apostle John refer to the word truth 26 times in this Gospel.
Read John 8:31 - 47
Verse 31, 32: Jesus is speaking to the people who have been listening to him. In this verse they are called “The Jews who had believed in him.” They may have been individuals, who were surface believers, or were new converts and in which Jesus gives them insight to the benefits of being and the characteristics of a disciple.
“You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free” is a quote by Jesus that is taken out of context often. We hear this phrase used by politicians to promote political agendas, conspirators to promote their conspiracy theories, environmentalist to promote environmental causes, scientists to promote scientific discoveries, people who refuse to live for God to promote their lifestyle choices, and parents to discourage their children from telling lies. Unfortunately when quoted people conveniently or maybe mistakenly leave out the first part of the passage. This first part is imperative to knowing the truth and being set free. Why is this so? Because in its true context can only promote one agenda and this is the Kingdom agenda. Before one can truly know the truth one has to be met. “IF you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and/then you will know the truth and the…” The condition is abiding in the word of Jesus.
Abide – Continue, remain, and endure, to not depart. The first step in knowing the truth is abiding in Jesus. When one continues in Jesus or remains faithful to his commands he gives us a glimpse of what a disciple of Jesus looks like. In order to abide or continue in his word we need to know what his word says. This right here is reason enough for you and me to be men and women of the scripture. How can we abide in the word if we don’t know what his word says? Whether you are a new believer, a mature believer or one who hasn’t delved into the word of God it is important to know his word. In the previous chapters Jesus enlightens us about what is involved in the abiding “process”. He talks about the need for repentance, belief, faith, forgiveness, being born again, looking to him as the light, the Spirit, being truly satisfied in him, his faithfulness, understanding his equality to God, knowing his infiniteness, his authority, his love for his people and his sacrifice. If we do remain in his word THEN we can know the truth and when we know the truth we will be free… Free from what? When we know (as stated in John 14) that Jesus is the way, the truth and the light and through faith in Him we may have access to the Father/heaven; we then have freedom from the bondage of sin, fear of death, guilt of condemnation and the shackles of the law.
In simple terms Jesus says, “Commit to me all the days of you life, in so doing you will see that through me is life and when you see this you will never ever be in bondage to sin again.”
Verses 33: The Jews were offended by this statement. Since Jesus is offering freedom the Jews couldn’t imagine Jesus meant they were enslaved. According to them they never bowed to any ruler or nation. The Israelites considered themselves the sons of the kingdom, thus they are free (no matter who they were subject to… at this time it would have been Rome) and not in slavery to anyone. How could Jesus even insinuate they needed to be free if they were not in bondage?
Verse 34 - 36: Jesus corrects them and enlightens us today… everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. Only through Jesus Christ may one be truly free from the bondage of sin. The one who practices and lives in sin is indeed a slave to it.
When one follows or commits themselves to Jesus (becomes a disciple) then sin will no longer be the master of ones life. This holds true to us today. Jesus is not saying that you will no longer sin but you will no longer be mastered by sin. You now have the ability to say, “No” to sin and walk in the ways of righteousness.
Verse 37: Jesus acknowledges that he understands their claim to be the offspring of Abraham. By descent the Jews are the children of Abraham. Yet he is perplexed, for lack of a better term that they are seeking to kill Jesus because of the words he speaks. Abraham was not a murderer and he never sought to bring harm to anyone so how is it that they, being his offspring, do such an unimaginable thing?
Verse 42: If God was truly their Father as the Jews believed then they would love Jesus because he is from God, appointed by God, and came to the earth to show the way to the kingdom. Jesus makes the claim that to love the Father you must also love the Son. The reason one does not love Jesus is because God is not his Father.
Verse 43: The Jews don’t and can’t understand this not because he hasn’t communicated the truth of who He is clearly, but because of their hard hearts they refuse thus are unable to hear what He is saying.
Verses 44: Since they refuse to hear his words, accept him as the Messiah and love him then the only conclusion is the people are neither of God nor of Abraham. Instead they are of their true father the devil. These are harsh and offensive words indeed. The devil is the father lies and he is and was a deceiver from the beginning starting with Adam and Eve. D.A. Carson writes, “By the success of his temptation, he robbed Adam of spiritual life, and through him brought death to the entire race. He abandoned truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native tongue, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
Verses 45 - 47: These closing verses give a pretty clear reason as to why people refuse Jesus in their lives. If you do not hear and hold to the words of Jesus it is because you do not have God in your life. This is proof positive that one cannot just worship God and not have Jesus as part of their life. Jesus has made numerous claims to being the son of God, to being sent by God, being appointed by God and speaking only what God tells him to speak. Without God you can’t have Jesus and without Jesus you cannot have God.
We all want to know the truth. None of us ever desires to follow deceit and lying. When we can accept the truth for what it is… “We are all sinners who have fallen short of the glory of God.” And “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” And “God so loved the world…” If Jesus had a slogan or a tagline it could be “The truth IS out there and it is found in ME” The great thing about this truth is that it is not concealed by any government or conspiracy theory. It is not a secret that is better kept than revealed. It is available to all and it has the power to set free from the shackles of darkness and bring anyone who believes into the light.
Many years ago I was called on by the court of the city of Erie, PA to testify of a robbery that I witnessed in a Church where I worked. I was called up to the witness stand and asked to give my personal testimony of what I witnessed, when I witnessed it and where it occurred. I was asked questions by both the prosecutor and the defense attorney about the events of that day.
The story behind the robbery was a man and woman had a scheme to rob the church without anyone knowing. The man came to my office one day and told me his story. I was immediately suspicious of because a month earlier a woman called me on the phone and told me the exact same sob story. As he was telling me this story (complete with tears) the woman (who I had no idea was there and was actually the same woman who called a month earlier) was going around the church and stealing valuables that were left unattended. With teary eyes the man asked if he could go upstairs to our sanctuary and pray, I told him that would be fine. After about five minutes (even more suspicious) I went to check on him and he was nowhere to be found. A few moments passed and we began to notice things missing from the church… some items in the maintenance room and a purse. We immediately knew we had been scammed when we started hearing reports of a woman walking around the church and both people were nowhere to be found. After calling the police and figuring there is no way we are going to get these items back or even catch the criminals we went on with our daily lives.
There are TV shows that are based on stupid criminals and even a web page called dumbcriminals.com and this couple would fit the bill quite nicely. The next day the couple comes back to the church and tells the same exact story (apparently they forgot they came there) to another pastor. I was not there. Knowing what had happened a some staff followed the two to WalMart, called the police again and caught them red handed with many of the items stolen in the trunk including the purse… not surprisingly the cash was gone.
This was far from a high profile case but from that experience I know what it feels like to be a witness in a court of law (as insignificant as it was). The court didn’t just depend on my testimony; they called on a number of individuals who had been affected by this robbery or witnessed the strange behavior of the couple. They needed our testimonies to gather enough evidence (and cross check it) to convict the couple of the crime.they were convicted of their crimes and the parties affected got their items back or were compensated appropriately.
I tell you this story as an introduction to today’s text. Jesus is questioned about his authority and his claims. He is on trial once again with the Jewish leaders. They try and use his own words against him to prove he is not who he claims, that he is a fraud but Jesus has witnesses to back up his claims.
If it is commonly agreed that 8:1 -11 were added after John’s Gospel was written then starting with verse 12 we would place us during the Feast of Tabernacles. According to the Mishnah Sukkah 5 (The laws that deal with the Festival of Tabernacles) it states, ―At the close of the first festival day they went down to the Court of the Women, and made great preparations there. There were golden candlesticks there with four golden bowls on the top of them. The candlesticks were fifty cubits high. Four ladders led up to each candlestick, and four youths from the priestly stock went up holding in their hands jars of oil, of twenty-four logs' capacity, which they poured into the bowls. They made wicks out of worn-out garments of the priests, and with them they set the candlesticks alight, and there was not a courtyard in Jerusalem that did not reflect the light. ―Men of piety and good deeds used to dance before them with burning torches in their hands, singing songs and praises. And countless Levites played on harps, lyres, cymbals and trumpets and other instruments of music, on the fifteen steps leading from the Court of the Israelites to the Court of the Women. Two Priests stood at the Upper Gate, which leads down from the Court of the Israelites to the Court of the Women, with two trumpets in their hands. This was believed to happen every night during the Feast.
We find later he was in the Temple at this time.
Read John 8:12 - 29
Verse 12: The “I am” statement Jesus makes in 8:12 is the second of seven “I am” claims in the Gospel of John. If the Mishnah Sukkah is correct then we can see why Jesus makes this bold claim in the temple. He makes the claim of being the light of the world is of significance because in these nights of celebration the light that was carried was representative of the “light of God”. So when Jesus makes the claim, “I am the light of the world…” He in essence is claiming to be the light of God. There is significance to light in the Scriptures – it exposes or consumes darkness, reveals what is hidden, it gives life, guidance or is a path. In the OT God led the Israelites by a cloud during the day a pillar of fire at night. In John light is synonymous to life, revelation of the truth and salvation.
He says, “The one who follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” Believers are called to walk in the light because we have the light of life who is Jesus in us (John 1:4)… In him was the life and the life was the light of the world. This means in Jesus we have salvation, eternal life, guidance and abundant life here on earth. We no longer walk according to the ways of darkness (the world) because it has been exposed for what it is… evil; and we now have our paths illuminated in this life by Jesus with the Holy Spirit as our guide.
Verse 13: Here the Pharisee’s try to use Jesus’ words against him (5:31). According to Jewish law one needs to have two or more witnesses in order for a testimony to be valid (this is the same for today as well). The Jews said Jesus’ claims were invalid because he is testifying of himself and no one else is.
Verses 14 – 18: Jesus responds that his testimony is true because of his firsthand knowledge of heaven. He knew who his Father was, He knew his place of origin (which the Jews did not… They only knew of his human origins and they were wrong about those as well. They thought he was from Galilee and in fact he was from Judah). They were judging him based on human standards. He says, “You judge according to the flesh and I do not judge anyone.” Clearly Jesus judged on earth but the translation could and probably should read, “I do not judge (according to the flesh).” They judged unto condemnation but Jesus judged unto salvation. Plus his judgment is true because when he does judge he does it in accordance to the Father. He then takes on the witness question. It is true two witnesses are needed and Jesus says, “I bear witness and the Father bears witness” of who I am. The witness of God trumps any human witnesses.
Verse 19: Still thinking Jesus is speaking in human terms they ask who his father is. Jesus’ response is if they can’t accept who he is then they certainly don’t know the Father. Knowing the Father = having Spiritual insight of who Jesus is. If they truly believed, followed and understood the scriptures they would know Jesus is the Messiah. If they knew the Father in a loving way then they would know Jesus is the Son.
Verse 20: This is a parenthetical of the author. He tells us his location and why he wasn’t arrested since that was the reason they sought him out. He was speaking in the treasury of the temple. This could be translated as near the offering box. This would be the place by the court of the women where boxes were set up and free will offerings would be taken. There were 13 Shofar’s (ram’s horns) or receptacle set up and people would put their donations in to help the needy. The treasury was where all the collections went. His time (hour) had not come. They did not nor could not arrest him because it was not the appointed time God had set for Jesus to be put away.
Verse 21: Jesus is speaking of his impending death. He will be crucified, buried and will rise again. When he rises from the dead he will ascend to heaven and no one can go with him. Yet those who do not turn (repent) and follow (believe) will die in their sins.
Verse 22 - 24: The Jews do not know what Jesus is talking about and they say, “Maybe he is going to kill himself since he says we can’t go with him.”
Jesus says you cannot understand what I am talking about because you are persistent in thinking I am talking on human terms. I am not speaking on these terms I am speaking in spiritual terms and you cannot understand what I am saying because you do not have any inclination to the spiritual things.
Verses 25 - 27: They are perplexed because they asked who Jesus was. These guys are blinded to the Spirit of God and clueless as to what Jesus is talking about. He tells them he is exactly who he has been saying he is from the beginning. Nothing has changed, he is still the Son of God; but they can’t understand this because they do not even know the Father.
Verses 28 – 30: One wonders will these Jewish authorities ever come to terms with Jesus being the Son of God? The answer is yes. When He is lifted up on the cross of Calvary and glorified through the Father. Then they will realize all the words he spoke and actions he did were from God the Father. Jesus spoke with such authority that many heard what he said and believed in faith.
“How does Jesus fit into your life? Or how does your life fit into Jesus?” In these first eight chapters Jesus has already made numerous and substantial claims to being the Son of God, the bread or the source of life, and the light of the world. Jesus exposes darkness and reveals the light of the Father to us. Does this mean anything to you? Has Jesus made a difference in your life? Does Jesus have full lordship over your life or have you carved out a spot in your life, like a compartment, and placed Jesus there and you call on him when you need him? Can you say with complete faith and belief “your will be done in my life.” Some of you may be reading this and thinking, “Well of course I believe in Jesus but I am not some religious nut who always talks about him or even goes around telling people I am a believer. My faith is a private thing… It’s between God and me.” Yes, it is between God and you… BUT it is not a private matter. We are called to live out our faith or more specifically let people see the Jesus we worship and love in us through our words, deeds and faith. I implore you today. Let Jesus be the light of your life, may he be your guide or leader in this life you live. May his light shine through you so others may see the true source of life in you and may you share it with others.
When a Christian Brother or sister has fallen into sin what is your initial response? Is it sadness, heartbreak, and compassion or is it judgment, self righteousness and maybe a tinge of satisfaction? Some would say your answer depends on the person. You may get a little bit of satisfaction when a prideful and arrogant person gets caught in a peculiar sin and is humiliated. Maybe you feel deep resentment towards the person who is quick to point out others sins but when his sins are exposed you respond with doing the same to him as he did to you. When you hear of a person who is down on his luck and can never seem to catch a break falls and is in the talons of deep seeded sin you may feel a sense of compassion and heartbreak.
Sadly a majority of Christians tend to respond to those caught in sin with harsh judgment and self righteousness. We sometimes feel justified in being harsh or looking down our noses at someone caught in a wrongdoing. Yes, we are commanded in the Epistles to judge those who call themselves Christians and are openly living in sin; but the intention for judgment is not to condemn but to restore and bring the person back to a right relationship with God. Unfortunately restoration is not usually our motive when we judge and act self righteously to those who do get caught in sin.
When a person is caught in sin it should break our hearts. We should never find satisfaction in judgment and condemnation because of bad choices made in one’s life. Sin is a dark, dangerous and deeply destructive thing that we are all susceptible to. It can rear its ugly head in any of our lives at any moment. None of us are free from the temptations and enticements of sin.
In today’s passage we are witness to our Lord’s response to a woman who was caught red handed in the act of sin. We learn from Jesus’ response how we should respond, judge and treat others whose sins have been exposed for all to see.
Most likely your Bible will have a set of double brackets, a line or a sentence that reads something like “The earliest Manuscripts do not contain 7:53 to 8:11”. You may wonder what this is all about. It is pretty much accepted among Bible scholars across the board that this passage is not in the original and earliest texts of John. It is found in a small number of Medieval Greek manuscripts. However it does seem from extra biblical sources that similar stories of a woman caught in sin are recorded during Jesus’ ministry but were not part of the original Gospel of John. Some actually place this account in the Gospel of Luke and some after John 21. Even though it is not in the earliest manuscripts it is widely accepted as authentic, and apostolic (either witnessed by one of the Apostles or was recorded by one who interviewed someone who was an eyewitness). Overall, the point to make is even though it may not appear in the earliest manuscripts it does not mean that it did not happen nor is the story is null and void because of its exclusion.
Read John 8:1 - 11
Verse 2: Jesus was in the Temple teaching and many people were coming to hear him teach. According to some commentators there are several expressions and content that is typical of Luke. Thus some have placed this account in Luke.
Verse 3: As Jesus was teaching the Scribes and Pharisees bring a woman (obviously against her will) who was caught in adultery before Jesus (and all who were in the Temple listening to Jesus). As we will see in a moment their motive was not so much to punish the woman for her sin as it was to put Jesus in his place.
I find it interesting for us to consider where the man was who is caught in this debacle? I like what D.A. Carson writes, “Adultery is not a sin one commits in splendid isolation: One wonders why the man is not brought with her. Either he was fleeter of foot than she, and escaped, leaving her to face hostile accusers on her own; or the accusers themselves were sufficiently chauvinistic to focus exclusively on this woman.” Either reason is just as plausible.
Verses 4, 5: They bring this woman before Jesus because they were testing him to see his response. In some ways Jesus was a rock in a hard place because no matter how he answered he could have not have been right… at least this is what the authorities believed.
According to the Law of Moses being caught in the act of adultery was punishable by death. You can read the rules and regulations in Deut. 22:22- 24 & Lev. 20:10. You will see there are many laws pertaining to sexual purity. You will also see both individuals who were caught in adultery were to be put to death.
We should note that at this time since Israel was under Roman rule the capital punishment of stoning had not been a common practice. The question was really a question of loyalty. If he said let the woman go he could have been tagged as a friend of the Romans. If he told them to stone her he could have been turned in to the Roman authorities as a rebel against Rome. "So,” they say, “what should be done with her?”
Verse 6, 7: We see the motivation behind bringing this woman to him. They didn’t really care so much about the sinner as they were in trying to trick him. They were just trying to find more reason to have Jesus put away.
Jesus’ response is classic! He bends down and starts writing in the sand. I think the one question on everyone’s mind is what exactly did he write? There is a ton of speculation but the truth is we do not know what he was writing. Some suggest that he was imitating the Roman practice of magistrates who would write their sentence down and then read it; but as I stated earlier we can only speculate.
Verse 8: Jesus answers the question in a way that I am sure none of them were expecting. His words of response still ring true for today… “He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone.” Knowing each and everyone of them was far from perfect there was no way any of them could pick up the first stone. Lev. 24:14 suggests that the witnesses of the crime are the ones who are to stone the sinner plus they must not be participants in the sin as well. If we wanted we certainly could read further into their response. Maybe they were guilty of the same exact sin as this woman. Maybe one of them was the one she was caught with. We’ll never know but it certainly was possible.
Verse 9: After speaking these words Jesus bends down and begins writing in the sand once again. As he does this the leaders turn and walk away one by one starting with the eldest. I can just see their faces burning hot with anger and frustration as they thought they had this fool proof plan to trick Jesus and it all comes unraveled at the end.
Once again we can only speculate what Jesus was writing. Some have suggested he was writing the names of each leader present and the sins they are involved in. We just don’t and can’t know what he wrote but it is fun to play with various scenarios.
Verse 10: Jesus is standing there alone with the woman and looks to her and asks, “Where are those who condemn you? I see they all left.” One would almost expect Jesus to be standing there with a stone in his hand throwing it up into the air, taunting the woman and glaring down at her while he asks her this question. But this isn’t what happens at all. You can almost hear the authoritative compassion and mercy he speaks to this woman. He was the one who could have cast the first stone because he was the only one present without sin; but he does not.
Verses 11: Instead he tells her that neither will he condemn her. Some have tried to suggest that Jesus is apathetic towards this sin and that he was taking it easy on the woman. The truth is he responds with compassion because he probably saw the regret and fear in the woman’s eyes as she was at the point of potential death by stoning. She was humiliated in front of the masses, her life was essentially ruined because she was to forever be known as the adulterer. She was probably going to be shunned from her family and community if she had one. Yet Jesus says to her, “I do not condemn you either.” He takes this sin seriously as he essentially gives this woman a second chance at true life. He says, “I am not going to condemn you, so go away and sin no more.”
Was Jesus calling her to live a sin free life? I don’t think so. He was telling her to quit committing the sin she was caught for. A man or woman could be considered adulterers if they were betrothed to be married but not yet. Or they were adulterers if they were sexually engaged with someone who was not their husband or wife. Or they were sexually engaged with a person who was someone else’s husband or wife. Maybe the woman was betrothed. She could have been having an extramarital affair or she may have been sleeping around. Regardless Jesus tells her to stop what she is doing.
We don’t know what ever became of the woman and we don’t know what became of the man who was never brought before Jesus. I can imagine her life was forever impacted and changed for the glory of God. So many people who had encounters with Jesus throughout the Gospels are impacted in one way or another. Some are made well (healed), some are forgiven, and some walk away from him because what he asks is too difficult to do in the flesh.
What I do see here in opening passage of John 8 are lessons in forgiveness, humility, and compassion. I find it very interesting throughout the Gospels Jesus’ response to sinners. He is ultra tough on the leaders of his time because of their self-centered pride, hypocrisy and condescension towards people. These men were constantly pointing out other people’s sins or enforcing laws and not keeping them themselves. He was even compassionate to one of their own (Nicodemus) when he came and inquired of Jesus in humility and sought to learn from him. Jesus was compassionate to those others who were considered sinners. He was never apathetic towards the sin, he does confront it (quit doing what you are doing), responds with compassion (your sins are forgiven) and impacts a person forever. Jesus was tough on the Jewish leaders because they knew better and they were seeking to control people with their authority. The common sinner(s) that we see in the Gospels may have known better but their response was quite similar to the act repentance that is required with sin issues in our lives.
What can we learn and take away from us today?
We are better off praying for those individuals and lovingly letting them know their sins are not God’s plan for their lives. Would we be better serving others by showing compassion and letting God be the final judge? This does not and I repeat does not mean we as believers should overlook any open sin in a person’s life. We can’t just apathetically tolerate sin and let it run rampant and unchecked in another brother or sisters life because we fear offending. Apathy and tolerance towards sin is in no way showing love. As Christians we must confront one another in Christ of our sins and have a heart and attitude of restoration and love and not of judgment and condemnation.
If you were to put yourself in this story today, where would you fit? Would you be one of the self righteous leaders, the humiliated adulteress (sinner), or the compassionate, sin confronting believer who desires restoration? It’s tough to imagine but take some time today and this week and pray about where you would be in this scenario.
 Carson, D.A. (1991) The Gospel According to John p. 335 Grand Rapids, MI: William B Eerdman’s Publishing Co.
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