21 Once more Jesus said to them, “I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come.”
22 This made the Jews ask, “Will he kill himself? Is that why he says,‘Where I go, you cannot come’?”
23 But he continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.”
25 “Who are you?” they asked.
“Just what I have been telling you from the beginning,” Jesus replied.26 “I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is trustworthy, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.”
27 They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father.28 So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. 29 The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.” 30 Even as he spoke, many believed in him.
(John 8:21-30 NIV)
In yesterday’s passage, Jesus was teaching in the temple courtyard, and there was a crowd of people listening to Him. The Pharisees interrupted Jesus and started asking Him questions about the validity of His testimony to discredit Him.
In today’s section, Jesus continues the dialogue with the Jewish religious leaders. Jesus knows that anything He says to them will fall on deaf ears – they don’t believe He is Messiah.
In verse 21, Jesus foretells of His death. The Pharisees understand that Jesus is saying He is going to die, but they think Jesus is telling them He is going to commit suicide. Once again, John points out that the religious leaders totally misunderstand Jesus.
In verses 23 – 24, Jesus again explains to the religious leaders that unless they believe Jesus is the Messiah, they will die in their sins. Since the religious leaders had already decided that Jesus could not be the Messiah because He had not come supernaturally as an adult (He came supernaturally as a child) and grew up in Galilee (He was born in Bethlehem), they dismissed Jesus as just another teacher.
The religious leaders, in their frustration, finally asked Jesus, “who are you?” (verse 25).
Jesus tells them that His message is the same – He is the son of God, sent from heaven as Messiah (vv. 25b – 26).
At this point, John interjects one of his parenthetical notes in case we were wondering what Jesus was saying. John tells us that Jesus is talking about His heavenly Father.
Jesus goes on to say to the religious leaders that when they crucify and kill Him, that they will then understand that He is the Messiah and is only being obedient to His Father, the one who sent Him in the first place.
John ends this snippet of conversation between Jesus and the religious leaders with another whispering note to us. John informs us that even though the religious leaders didn’t believe Jesus was the Messiah, many of the onlookers and surrounding crowd understood what Jesus was saying. These folks in the crowd believed that Jesus was the chosen One of Israel, God’s Son, the Messiah.
So what are the big takeaways from this conversation between Jesus and the religious leaders? Several things come to mind:
- Jesus’ obedience to His Father, giving His Father credit and honoring Him despite the continuous questioning and challenges by the unbelieving religious leaders.
Do I have such an unwavering obedience to my Heavenly Father, especially with prolonged examination and opposition, or do I get tired and discouraged and give up?
- The power of the Gospel of Christ, even in the midst of opposition. As John notes, even though Jesus is in this back-and-forth dialogue with the religious leaders who seek to discredit Him, many still come to belief and faith in Him.
The key learning? You never know who is listening and whom God is prompting to come to Himself, even during times of opposition and unbelief with others.
May we be found faithful and obedient to our Heavenly Father, and remember Jesus’ example modeled for us as we encounter spiritual battles.