Lesson 73: Jesus Continued His Ministry in Jerusalem
A Blending of The Four Gospel Records. Welcome! This is lesson # 73. There's a long section here in John about Jesus' teaching in Jerusalem. This teaching was primarily done in the temple. About three more chapters deal primarily with Jesus' teachings and his exchange with those who wanted to kill him. Many believed on Jesus and became disciples; but by far the larger group of Jews with which he dealt were antagonistic. Attempts were made to stone Jesus and to arrest him; but, Jesus always managed to escape their hand. Part of this may be attributed to the fact that Jesus knew what was in man. And, part was simply that Jesus practiced what he had taught the apostles, "be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves." (Matt. 10:16). The apostle John, who wrote this, seems to marvel that Jesus escaped their hand so often and was able to go in and out among them so freely. Every little bit John expressed this by saying, "his hour was not yet come." Now, these things happened in the autumn of AD 32; in the days and weeks following the feast of tabernacles. John who was one of the apostles and undoubtedly a first hand witness to much of this (if not all of it) concentrated on telling us what Jesus said. He tells us nothing with respect to the apostles and other disciples that were with Jesus. But, interspersed into these dialogues and speeches of Jesus are many principles that are of great significance to us and help us to understand Jesus' message and Jesus' doctrine. That is the reason John wrote these things for us according to John 20:30. So, let's read a few mores verses. We're going to begin in John 8:12. After they had brought the woman caught in adultery to Jesus, the crowd had went out one by one and Jesus had told the woman, "go, and sin no more"; either later that day or shortly after that Jesus had another opportunity to teach. Let's read v.12 thru 20. Are you ready. "Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true. Jesus answered and said unto them, Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go. Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man. And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me. It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true. I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me. Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye neither loiow me, nor my Father: for if ye had know me, ye should have known my Father also. These words spake Jesus in the treasury, as he taught in the temple: and no man laid hands on him; for his hour was not yet come."
O.K. let's go back to v.12 and brush through the high spots one more time. You must keep in mind the great dispute with these Jewish leaders always seem to come down to Jesus' origin and Jesus' identity. They simply did not accept Jesus as the messiah. It is so easy for us to be engulfed in pride, the lust of this life, (our needs and wants) to the point we tend to measure EVERYTHING in terms of how can I use that (whatever is under consideration) to further my cause, and my desire, and my ego. This is a very shallow mental investigation; but, it is so easy to get entrapped into that carnal blind-spot that we're talking about. This was what Jesus was up against. It was not a lack of evidence, prophecy, miracles, etc. It was simply that they did not want to reach that inescapable conclusion. In spite of the fact that Israel was dominated by Rome and they were not a free people and they had drifted away from the Law of Moses and justified their actions by the traditions of the fathers, and inspite of the fact that God had given them a barometer of O.T. prophets to measure and identify the messiah; they just didn't want it to be so. These leaders looked at themselves as political big wigs; and they liked and coveted that position to the point they didn't want to give way to the messiah, to the point it blinded their own thinking. They resisted on every turn. Now, look at Jesus' statement in v.12, "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." Can you see that Jesus is metaphorically describing HIS IDENTITY in terms of that mental blind spot that had engulfed the Jewish leaders? Back in John's prologue, John 1:4-5, this writer said, "In him [i.e. Jesus] was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not." By "light", Jesus meant truth, understanding, and the reality of God, and the perspective of man in the framework of the universe created by the living God. A much broader concept than that blind-spot of self-serving thinking we've been talking about. This metaphor of "light" was commonly used as a symbol of spiritual illumination. But, for what ever it's worth; this was said, you will remember, within a day or two or within a week or two after the feast of tabernacles. Some commentators point out that during the week of the feast of tabernacles; each evening great lights were placed on posts of some kind in the court of the women, somewhere in the temple area. These lights were spectacular by their standards; although, probably antiquated by our standard of lighting today. Some think the timing of Jesus' statement, "I am the light of the world..." drew its metaphorical basis from those lights each evening during the festival. Whether this is right or some concocted theory; I'm not sure. But, I think it is true that Jesus usually drew his parables and metaphors from the common everyday things of life and especially that which occupied their attention at the moment. Jesus was the great light, you see. He was the light of the world.
Now, the Pharisees in v.13 were saying in effect, Jesus you can't back up what you're saying. It's a claim made by you; but the Old Law required two witnesses, you'll remember. Well, a year and a half before that, at Jerusalem, Jesus had discussed this point and pointed out that there was adequate witness, evidence, or testimony from about five different sources to establish that Jesus was the Christ. Do you remember John 5:31ff? Jesus had said, "If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true", i.e. if that was the only source of witness. Jesus did not mean that what He said was not true. He simply meant that IT DOES take MORE than one proclaiming himself. And, as I said, Jesus gave about five sources of evidence that established his identity back in John ch. 5. But, here in John 8:17, Jesus said it was true that the Old Law required the testimony of two men to confirm a truth. However, here, Jesus didn't go into all the points back in John ch. 5; Jesus simply said He himself was a witness and God the Father beareth witness (in v.18). That was adequate to establish the point. The point in v.15-16 is that they came eager to judge and condemn. But, Jesus came NOT to condemn, but to save (John 3:17). Jesus will be the Judge, you will remember, in the final judgement (John 5:22). But, here, that was not Jesus' mission. The point that John makes in v.20, concerning the fact that this happened near the treasury; is simply that this was the most public part of the temple and apparently a liable place where they might have apprehended Jesus. But, it just didn't happen.
Alright, v.21 down thru 30. Let's read some more. Are you ready? Beginning in v.21. "Then said Jesus again unto them, I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come. Then said the Jews, Will he kill himself? because he saith, Whither I go, ye cannot come. And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world. I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins; for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins. Then said they unto him, Who art thou? And Jesus saith unto them, Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning. I have many things to say and to judge of you: but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things -which I have heard of him. They understood not that he spake to them of the Father. Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. And he that sent me is with me; the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those thingsthat please him. As he spake these words, many believed on him." O.K. the identity argument continued; but, Jesus made a very strong and personal point in v.24. To follow Jesus and to be saved required faith; the very thesis of John book; FAITH or BELIEVING gives us the power to become. "If ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins." Not to believe on Jesus is simply to be lost! It's a simple re-statement of what Jesus told Nicodemus back in John 3:18. Then here in v.28; Jesus pointed out that still more evidence would be given "then shall ye know that I am he..." On the strength of Jesus' teaching there, many (v.30) believed on Jesus and no doubt some became disciples. And, I might toss in here: when these became disciples they were baptized. Do you remember John 4:1? "Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John." But the same place pointed out that Jesus left that chore of immersing to his disciples. So, this was probably carried out by some of the apostles there at Jerusalem, as mentioned here in John 8:30. But, how many went so far as to be baptized we are not told. Some may have believed; that did not go so far as to be baptized.
Let's read some more. John 8:31-59, twenty nine verses. That finishes off John ch.8. Are you ready to read? Beginning in John 8:31. "Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my words, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. I know that ye are Abraham's seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you. I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father. They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham. But now ye seek it kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham. Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God. Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do: he was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are of not of God. Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honor my Father, and ye do dishonor me. And Iseek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth. Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my sayings, he shall never see death. Then said the Jews unto him, New we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death. Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself? Jesus answered, If I honor myself, my honor is nothing: it is my Father that honoreth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: yet ye have not known him, but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, Ishall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by."
Although, the bulk of what Jesus said here was addressed to those that believed (v.30); this discussion was most likely in the presence of all who cared to listen. In these words, Jesus sought to increase the faith of those that believed on him and emphasize the need for them to continue as a disciple. A mere momentary mental assent DOES NOT make one a disciple. To be a disciple requires a continuance in Christ's word, v.31. If one continues in Christ's word then their knowledge of God will increase until they can truly obey Him. In Bible terms, to know the truth implies one will obey it. Then truth, in that sense, gives freedom from sin and death. By death, I mean separation from God. Those that answered him in v.33 may have, thus, included unbelieving Jews as well. In the words that follow, Jesus -showed clearly that his reference to freedom was in the spiritual sense; NOT in the material sense in which they insisted on receiving it. A slave was not a permanent part of a household. You see, a slave could be changed at will; whereas family members were a permanent part of the household. Thus the Son, a permanent member of the household, could grant true freedom; whereas a slave or a servant could not. The idea of parenthood in Abraham as used in these verses is used in that same spiritual sense. The children of Abraham in the spiritual sense were those that believed and obeyed and were faithful as Abraham believed God and obeyed accordingly. Their spiritual actions indicated their spiritual parentage whether of God or whether of Satan. Jesus spoke in spiritual terms. But, they tried to insist on a literal meaning. Thus, there was a communication gap; but, Jesus persisted as he did with the woman at the well. The problem was unbelief. It was not really disbelief. For disbelief implies that one has examined the evidence and found it not credible. In that respect those Jews were very much like the world today. The world today is examining everything BUT Christ. The common man of the street today does not believe in the O.T. or the N.T. for the very reason they haven't examined the evidence. So, in our day, the big problem is the same as it was in the day of Jesus, i.e. unbelief. However, disbelief is much more rare. Until next time, have a good day.