John 8 Devotional
by Pastor Mark Hudson
One of the first issues in John 8 is the fact that while the first 11 verses are in the Bible, your notes say maybe it shouldn’t be. The best and earliest manuscripts do not include this. There are close to 5,000 manuscripts of the New Testament which are copies of various sections of the New Testament. They are grouped according to how reliable they are and the most reliable do not have these verses (save one). All the early church fathers omit this narrative in their commentaries. No Eastern church father comments on these verses until the 10th century. That is not to say this event did not take place. The narrative is completely believable both the sinful setup to Jesus’ wise and gracious response while at the same time correcting the religious leaders.
In verse 12, we read of the second “I am” statements in the gospel of John. Don Carson’s commentary summarizes the use of light in the Bible on pp. 337-338. Light led Israel into the promised land (Ex 13:21-22) and protected them for those who would destroy them (Ex. 14:19-25). Ps 27:1 says, “the Lord is my light and my salvation.” The word of God is a light (Ps. 119:105: Pr. 6:23) and God’s light is shed abroad in revelation (Ez. 1:4, 13, 26-28) and salvation (Hab. 3:3-4). Isaiah tells us that the Servant of the Lord was appointed as a light to the Gentiles (Is. 49:6). The coming end times would be a time when the Lord Himself would be the light for His people (Is 60:19-22; cf. Rev 21:23-24). Zechariah14:5b-7 promises continual light on the last day.
Christ states the truth: He is the Light and immediately follows with the implications of following Christ means walking in light. The rest of this chapter is a rather nasty interchange as the religious leaders attack Christ’s authority. The Pharisees think they have him because in John 5:31, Jesus said, “If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not true.” They misinterpreted what Jesus was saying in chapter 5, but they rarely seemed to follow Jesus’ logic. Jesus keeps pointing them to His Father and that is when they go low. In v. 19, “Where is your father?” is a dig against Jesus. Place that verse alongside v. 41 when they replied, “We were not born of sexual immorality” as if to imply, “But you can’t say that, can you Jesus?”
Already in chapter 8, the daggers are out. There is no turning back from the hatred the religious leaders have toward Christ. These leaders cannot keep up with Jesus. They don’t know what He is referring to in v. 21 or 23. Nor do they pick up when Jesus is rebuking them in v. 23. In v. 27, “They did not understand that he had been speaking to them about the Father.”
If you do not understand what self-righteousness is, you can see it in v. 33ff. The religious leaders would never admit they were sinners and needed God’s grace in the person of Christ. These leaders were oblivious to the fact of their sin and the damage sin was doing to their minds, their souls, and their relationship with God. Since the leaders were questioning Jesus about His father, our Lord plainly says in v. 44, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desire.” Jesus tells them He knows who their father is: the devil. “The reason why you do not heart them (the words of God) is that you are not of God” vs. 44, 47.
This give and take exposes the ignorance human reasoning, our stubborn refusal to listen and accept correction from God, and our inherent and culpable spiritual and moral blindness. This is an ugly chapter which should not surprise us since at the end of this book, the main character is murdered. These leaders are using racial slurs and claiming Jesus is demon-possessed (v. 48, 52). They truly have no idea Who they are talking to or what they are talking about.
Jesus is intentionally using words and concepts He knows are not obvious or readily discernable by His listeners. His words reveal and conceal (Mt 13:14-15). His words are not always clear, but they expose the hearts of His listeners. He hopes they see what He sees about them. But often they are not only blind to Jesus, His words, but also oblivious about their own heart. If they would only repent and admit they are blind. Or as He says in John 9:41, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.”
Jesus never backs down from speaking the truth. Recognizing some would never understand, He knew some would. And He knew His words were true and His people from every race, tribe, and tongue would respond. At times, He was angry (though never sinfully so or out of control). Yet no matter what happened to Him or what was said, He just kept telling the truth. He ends by claiming deity which makes the religious leaders so furious they try to kill Him right there.
Dear Heavenly Father, we are right in condemning such ignorance, stubbornness, and hatred but we find these tendencies in our own heart and in our past. We confess our own current blindness about Your kingdom. We say the right things but our heart is not captivated by Your glory nor do we fear You enough to lovingly obey You. We are bored with the things of God and unsatisfied with matters of the Kingdom. Stir us up by the power of Your Spirit. Open our spiritual eyes to our lethargy and also to our responsibility for our blindness and laziness in spiritual matters. Help us to love Your gospel, Your church, and Your Son. We pray this so Your kingdom will grow and flourish. For the Sake of the One who died in our place. Amen.