Last week’s chapter ended with a call from Nicodemus (yes, the same Nicodemus from chapter 3) for the Pharisees to hear Jesus’ testimony. This chapter is Jesus’ testimony, but first we have to make a small detour. There are some older manuscripts that do not have 7:53-8:11. There are some scholars that might say I should skip over it, but it is in my Bible so we are going to look at it anyway.
After his experience at סֻכּוֹת (Sukkot), on a following day Jesus returned to the Temple and a crowd formed to hear him teach. The Pharisees, who were seeking to kill Jesus, set a trap for him. They caught a woman in the act of adultery. Not just an accusation, but the actual act. They pulled her out of bed, or the alley, or where ever this was happening and brought here straight to Jesus. Personally, I’m curious what happened to the man but that is a rabbit hole we will not be going down today. Likely referring to a law from Deuteronomy or Leviticus (22:22, 20:10), they ask Jesus if they should stone the woman. His response is to draw on the ground and say a line most people know, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7, NASB). As he goes back to drawing on the ground, I like to image the Pharisees dropping their stones and going away one-by-one.
“The recognition of sin is the beginning of salvation.”
— Martin Luther
Jesus then turns and says again to the Pharisees “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the right of life” (John 8:12, NASB). Their response is that he is simply testifying about himself and has no other witnesses to his claims. Jesus appeals that God testifies who he is, with (I’m sure) and allusion to Scripture as well. He tells them that it is only natural that they do not know who he is as they do not know who God is. “‘Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins’ … They did not realize that He had been speaking to them about the Father” (John 8:24 & 27, NASB). Taking a look back to the beginning of John’s Gospel we can see that Jesus and God are one and have been together since the beginning. Jesus is effectively testifying about himself and the Father, while the Father is testifying about Himself and Jesus.
“Yes, let God be the Judge. Your job today is to be a witness.”
— Warren Wiersbe
They continue to bicker among each other about the validity of Jesus’ claims. The group even goes so far as to say, “Do we not say rightly that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?” (John 8:48, NASB). Jesus responds “If I want glory for myself, it doesn’t count. But it is my Father who will glorify me. You say, ‘He is our God,’ but you don’t even know him. I know him. If I said otherwise, I would be as great a liar as you! But I do know him and obey him.” (John 8:53-54, NLT).
“Christ either deceived mankind by conscious fraud, or He was Himself deluded and self-deceived, or He was Divine.”
— John Duncan
As we have discussed at the beginning of this series, John is very upfront that Jesus and God are one and the same. Despite many heresies that claimed this was not true, at the council of Nicaea in 325, the Church found that God the Father and God the Son (Jesus) are some how the same. Many people cannot understand how this is possible. The Trinity causes most people to scratch their heads. How can Jesus be completely God and human, and yet not be God the Father (forgetting all about the Spirit). This piece of our theology is something we have to accept as healthy mystery. Even the illustration that the Trinity is just like me being a father, a son, and a brother is a heresy. No wonder the Pharisees could not understand what Jesus was saying.
This chapter is certainly hard to understand because we do not understand how God is both Father and Son. We have faith in this truth, though we are not able to fully grasp it. Does this cause problems for you? Leave a comment below and let us have a conversation.