The Book of John is unique among the Gospel accounts. You may read it when you are yet in shallow waters near the shore, and you will find Jesus there. You may read it and find yourself totally immersed in deep truths about God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Sometimes I will go deep, and if it is too much, don’t worry! Stay in the shallow waters for a bit. He will take you deeper, as you get to know Him!
John 8 is full of deep truths about sin. Some say the first 11 verses belong elsewhere in the gospel according to John. That’s because Verse 12 seems to be a continuation of John 7:53. But I believe that in Verse 12, Jesus addressed those who had gathered around Him in the Temple during Verses 1-11. And believe me, those 11 verses are powerful and applicable to your heart, just as they were to mine. Jesus’ second “I AM” statement comes in this chapter, two powerful exchanges with the Jewish elite occur, and a deep, freeing truth is revealed in 8:31-36. This Word is life. Walk with me, and I’ll show you what I see.
Verses 1-2 — Everyone went home after Jesus cried out at the Feast of Tabernacles, but He went to the Mount of Olives, as was His custom. He came into the Temple the next day, sat down, and began to teach.
Verse 3-6 — The Jewish elite brought a woman to Jesus, saying she was caught in the very act of adultery. How could that happen? Someone had to know in advance, and spies had to be sent to grab her. She was probably not fully clothed.
They called Jesus “teacher,” and reminded Him that the Law said she must be stoned to death. They asked for His judgment of the case, because they wanted to trip him up, make Him say something contrary to the Law.
But Jesus did something strange. He stooped down and, with His finger, wrote on the ground. What did that mean? You must go to Jeremiah 17:13 — My NAS Bible reads, “O Lord, the hope of Israel, all who forsake You will be put to shame.” And now I go to the literal translation from Hebrew to English. “Those who depart from Me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the fountain of living water, even the LORD.”
Jesus did just what the scriptures said He would do. He wrote in the earth the names of those who were present, because they had departed from Him and forsaken Him, the fountain of living water, per John 7:37-39.
Verses 7-9a — I believe the Jewish elite understood what He was doing. But they persisted in asking Him for His judgment of the woman. So He straightened up and said, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”
Why did Jesus stoop down again, and continue to write? To convict the Jewish elite that they had departed from and rejected Him, as I wrote above. They had sinned, even in that very moment, trying to trap Him, trying to play their religious politics.
When they heard what Jesus said, and saw Him bend down again and continue writing in the earth, they left, one by one. The older were first. Were they wiser? They surely were convicted, and eventually, they all left.
All have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). That is a lesson for us. I tell you, if you ask the Lord to purify your heart, you won’t throw stones at sinners any more, because you will clearly remember that the Lord had to cleanse you and purify you of your sinful nature!
Verses 9b-11 — What happened to the woman? Jesus was left with the woman, in the center of the court. The woman must not have looked up at all, during the exchange between Jesus and the Jewish elite.
The Jewish elite had now been convicted and had left. So Jesus straightened up, and said, “Where are they? Did no one condemn you?”
She saw that they were gone, and said, “No one, Lord.” She recognized Him as her Lord. And He said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on, sin no more.”
Jesus did not condemn an adulteress? How could that be? By not condemning her, He surely forgave her. That is what He wants to do for all sinners. He paid a great price, shedding His blood on a cross so that you and I could be forgiven. So can we keep on sinning and receive His endless forgiveness? Read on!
He didn’t give her permission to go on sinning. He said she must go and sin no more. It is the same for you and me. He will set you free from slavery to sin, so you no longer willfully disobey God. That is my (and the Bible’s) definition of sin. If He says He can set us free from sin, I think you and I should believe Him. Continue walking with me.
Verses 12-14 — Jesus spoke to those who had gathered at the Temple to watch the exchange between the Jewish elite and Him. And He spoke an I AM statement. He is the Light of the world. He is the One who shines on all men. He is the true Light, the One Isaiah prophesied of in Isaiah 9. He is the I AM, the eternally existent God the Son.
And if you follow (obey) Him, you will not walk in darkness, but will have the Light of life. You will have His light upon you to show you the truth, and then you will see that it is His will that His light be within you. This Light is the light of His eternal life, and He lights you up so you shine like He did while He walked the earth.
Jesus draws a contrast with the Jewish Elite. Jesus did not walk in darkness. He is the Light. The Jewish elite walked in darkness, because they did not recognize their Messiah/Christ standing before them.
The Jewish elite accused Him of lying, because He was testifying of Himself. He had already instructed them about who testifies of Him, in John 5. But they covered their ears and smeared their eyes, spiritually speaking, so they could neither hear nor see, nor turn and be healed (Isaiah 6:10).
But Jesus said even if He testified about Himself, His testimony is true. Why? He came from the Father, and will return to the Father. In other words, He is God the Son, sent by God the Father. God cannot lie (Numbers 23:19, Titus 1:2). But the Jewish elite do not know the Father, so Jesus’ words make no sense to them. They know nothing of the Father.
Verse 15— The tension builds. Jesus bluntly told the Jewish elite that they judged according to the flesh. What did He mean? Two definitions, and both are valid.
First, they judged by outward appearances. With them, religion was about perfectly dotting i’s and crossing t’s, and if they did well enough, they would go to heaven. So “according to the flesh” means “according to outward appearances.”
Second, they judged according to their ambition for wealth, power, and prestige — carnal things, worldly things, natural things that have no value in God’s eyes. The Lord wanted their hearts! So “according to the flesh” means they judged in a way that would advance their position. They judged with their own ambitions in mind.
You may say, “Sounds like U.S. politics,” but I tell you the truth, it happens in the church all the time, locally, nationally and internationally, among the congregation members and leaders at all levels. Many have not given God their whole hearts so they would be filled with the Holy Spirit and God’s actual love. They have their own ambitions in mind.
So there is chaos and discord in the church. It shames the church in general, and Christ in particular. He is grieved. But Jesus does not judge according to the flesh/carnally/with His own interests in mind.
Verses 16-18 — Jesus reminded them that His judgment is true and right because He does what the Father does and says what the Father says. He does nothing of His own initiative (John 5:19, 30). The Father judges, Jesus hears, and He judges according to the Father.
Jesus brought up the Law the Jewish elite revered. The Law says if two men testify, it is true. Jesus testified about Himself, and so did His Father. That’s two.
Verses 19-20 — The Jewish elite asked Jesus about His “father.” It is a reference to their belief that He was illegitimate, because Mary was pregnant before she was married to Joseph. But she was impregnated by the power of the Holy Spirit, not a man.
But Jesus said they didn’t know Him or His Father. They had never experienced Him, not ever! If they knew/recognized Jesus, they would know/recognize the Father in Him. I wrote a song once, that Jesus “had His Father’s eyes.” He was the exact representation of the Father’s nature (Hebrews 1:3). But the Jewish elite were blind to it, because they didn’t know the Father at all.
He spoke these words in the Temple treasury. He spoke them while He taught in the Temple. No one seized Him. It was not yet the divinely appointed time for Him to be falsely judged and crucified.
Verses 21-22 — Jesus went deeper in His condemnation of them. He was going away. They would seek Him, but would die in their sin (because they rejected Him). Where He was going, they could not come. The Jewish elite didn’t understand.
Verses 23-24 — Jesus boldly declared that they were from below (this world). Jesus is from above (heaven). Jesus was and is not of this world. He didn’t judge as they judged, didn’t live as they lived, and was not born by natural means. He was sent from heaven, was returning to heaven, and because of their unbelief in Him, they could not come to heaven.
As Jesus said to the Jewish elite, you will die in your sins unless you believe that I am who I say I am — the I AM, the always existent God the Son.
Verses 25-27— The Jews asked, “Who are You?” Many in this world ask that question. But Jesus already told them, and He has told you. He is God the Son. His Father sent Him. He is the Messiah, the Christ. Therefore, you must repent and be saved.
Jesus had many things to say and judge concerning the Jewish elite. But the Father who sent Him is true, and so is Jesus. His words came from the Father, and Jesus spoke them. When He said they could not come to heaven, but would die in their sins, those were the Father’s words. He spoke these words not only to the Jewish elite, but to the world.
The Jewish elite did not know the Father at all; they did not have holy intimacy with the Father. Therefore they did not understand that Jesus had been speaking to them about the Father.
Verses 28-30 — Jesus bluntly told them they would be the ones that would lift Him up (on a cross). At that time, they would know completely and fully that He is who He says He is — the I AM.
That places great condemnation on Jews today who do not believe in Jesus. His cross was the evidence that He is their Messiah. And yet they deny Him. [I pray daily for them, and support ministries that actively evangelize the Jews.]
He is the I AM. He does nothing on His own initiative. He speaks what the Father taught Him. And the Father is with Him. He has not abandoned His Son, because His Son does what pleases Him.
Do you want to know what pleases God? Ask Him to make you like Jesus, by filling you with His Holy Spirit. Then you will please God.
Verse 31-32 — There were some Jews who believed what Jesus said. So He told them that if they continued in His word, they would truly be disciples of His, and they would know the truth, and the truth would make them free.
You must continue in His word, in the Bible, in the Gospels, looking at Jesus, listening to what He says and obeying Him. That is what disciples do.
What will be the result? The truth you learn will make you free! Free from what?
Verse 33 — That’s what some of the Jews asked. Free from what? They depended on their father, Abraham. They were his children.
They claimed they had never been slaves, but the Tenakh records their slavery to Egypt, to Assyria, to Babylon, and now to Rome.
They were also slaves to Satan. He said, “Jump,” and they asked, “How high?” You will see it shortly. It is the same today in the church. Many are still Satan’s pawns, and do not know it.
They were also slaves to their carnal nature, the one that made them chase after prestige and power and wealth. Church, are you listening?
And they were also slaves to sin. Church, are you listening?
Verses 34-36 — Jesus has a truly, truly for us. A great truth! Here it is:
If you commit sin, you are a slave to sin. What happens to slaves?
— They do not remain in the house forever. If you die a slave to sin, you will not go to heaven.
But if you become a child of God by believing in Jesus Christ, and you continue to listen to Him, you will know the truth, and you will ask Him to fill you with His Holy Spirit. He will free you from slavery to sin, and you will go to heaven. That’s more than forgiveness for past sins. That’s freedom from SLAVERY to sin. He will change your heart and give you power over sin.
So, if the Son — God the Son — makes you free, you are free, indeed. Free of the power of sin, free from slavery to it, freedom from slavery to Satan, and freedom from slavery to your carnal desires (2Peter 4:1-2).
Now that’s free, indeed — truly free, free “to the max!”
Verses 37-38 — Jesus did not spare any words. His words were from His Father. He told them if Abraham were their father, they wouldn’t want to kill Him. But they are doing what THEIR father tells them to do. Who is their father? Watch.
Verses 39-40 — They declared again that Abraham was their father. But Jesus said they do not do the deeds of Abraham, and so they cannot be his children. What are the deeds of Abraham? To believe God. God credited Abraham’s faith in God as righteousness (Genesis 15:6, Romans 4:3). Faith in God and the obedience that results — those are the deeds of Abraham. But these who claimed to be Abraham’s children did not believe in God and obey Him. Instead, they seek to kill God the Son, even though He has told them the truth. Abraham never did that.
Verse 41 — Again, Jesus said, “You are doing the deeds of your father.” Who is their father? Watch.
They accuse Him of being born of fornication (having sex with someone, but not being married to them). They claimed God was their Father.
Verse 42 — Jesus boldly told them that God was not their Father, because if He was, they would love Jesus, because He issued out from the Father, came from God, and did not even come on His own initiative — God sent Him.
I tell you the truth, do nothing on your own initiative. When you are filled with the Holy Spirit and your carnal/sin nature has been crucified, you no longer have plans of your own. You wait for instructions from the Father.
A note about crucifixion of the sinful nature: Some say crucifixion takes a long time; that is, you hang on a cross for many hours before you die. But there is a moment in time when the crucified one dies. When your sin nature is dead, it is dead in a moment of time.
Verse 43 — Why did they not understand His word? Because they could not hear it. They plugged their ears. They could not obey. He spoke truth, and they were offended by it and rejected it.
I tell you the truth, some cannot hear the words the Lord is speaking through me right now. They say God can’t do that. They say they are stuck in their sin, but thank God for the blood of Jesus, so they are covered, no matter what evil they do. The Lord is as grieved by them as He was by the Jewish elite, because by denying His ability to give them new hearts, they reject His words.
Verse 44 — Who is the father of the Jewish elite? The devil. They do his desires. They are not forced to. They want to. From the beginning, Satan has been a murderer. He deceived Eve, Adam sinned, and they were spiritually disconnected from God. So they died spiritually. That was in the beginning.
Satan does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth located inside of him. Whenever he speaks, it is a lie. He speaks from his own nature. Lying is his native tongue. He is a liar and the father of lies. There were no lies until he deceived Eve by lying to her. Thus, lies began with Satan. And if you lie, you are his child.
Please hear me. He wants to rescue you from Satan. You do not need to remain a sinner. You do not need to continue to sin. You do not need to do what Satan tells you to do. The Son has come to set you free, indeed, if you will hear Him!!!
Verses 45-47 — Jesus affirmed that He speaks the truth. That’s why they do not believe Him. They prefer the words of their father, who lies.
What sin had Jesus committed? He committed no sin. Jesus spoke the truth.
Why didn’t they believe Him? Because they are not of God. Whoever is of God (belongs to God, believes in God), believes His words.
Verses 48-49 — So the Jewish elite accused Jesus of being a Samaritan (worshiping other gods) and having a demon (being demonically possessed). But Jesus said He did not have a demon. They dishonored Jesus, and Jesus honored His Father. They dishonored the Father by dishonoring the Son.
Verses 50-51 — Jesus said He did not seek His own glory (but they did). He didn’t want fame and fortune, position and power and money (but they did). He didn’t want to be looked upon as the greatest (but they did). But there is One who seeks (seeks the Son’s glory, see v. 54), and that One judges — God the Father.
Truly, truly. A great truth! If anyone keeps (holds fast, fulfills) Jesus’ word, he will not taste of death, will not look death in the eye, so to speak. His body will fall away, but he will go on to be with the Lord in heaven, never sensing death.
Verse 52 — The Jewish elite mocked Jesus. Now they knew He has a demon. Everyone dies. The prophets died. Abraham died. Jesus, You are possessed!
Verses 52-55— Jesus issued a final rebuke. They glorify themselves. If He glorified Himself, exalted Himself, honored Himself (as they do), it would mean absolutely nothing. But the Father of Jesus Christ glorifies His Son. They said of the Father, “He is our God.” But He could not be their God, because they did not glorify His Son.
Jesus told them they have not come to know God the Father. They never had holy intimacy with the Father. But Jesus knows Him. If He said He didn’t know the Father, He would be a liar, like them. But Jesus knows Him and keeps His Word. (They do not.)
Verses 56-57 — Jesus told the Jewish elite that Abraham rejoiced to see Jesus Christ’s day. He saw it from a distance (Hebrews 11:10, 13, 16). He saw that it would come in the future. And Abraham saw it and rejoiced!
Their response? What? How could that be? You are not yet fifty years old (He was 33 at the most). Abraham lived long ago. How could You, Jesus Christ, say that You have seen Abraham, and Abraham has seen You?
Verse 58-59 — Truly, truly. Another great truth. Before Abraham was, I AM. Long before Abraham was born, Jesus existed. He is the I AM, the always existent Son of God. Therefore, He is God the Son.
The Jews picked up stones to stone Him. And so Jesus left the Temple. He had said all His Father told Him to say.
NOTE: Jesus did not go and hide, as my NAS Bible reads. The literal Greek to English is “was hidden.” Jesus was supernaturally, miraculously hidden from them. I love my brothers and sisters in the Lord, but somtimes, I shake my head at the translators. They miss (or dismiss) the miracles.
Why was He hidden? It was not yet the divinely appointed time.