John 8: 21 – 30 Dispute over who Jesus is
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.’
Jesus speaks prophetically. He is talking about heavenly things. After the crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus will return to the Father in heaven. Unless we accept him as the Son of God we will not be able to go with him to heaven.
This made the Jews ask, ‘Will he kill himself? Is that why he says, “Where I go you cannot come”?’
The Jews, though, are thinking in purely earthly terms. Jews lived all over the Roman empire in the diaspora. The Roman empire had excellent communication links. From Britain to Sudan, Spain to the Middle East, there were good roads and established shipping routes. On this earth, there was nowhere for Jesus to go where others couldn’t follow him.
St John writes that some of the Jews speculated that Jesus would take his own life. This was a very serious sin in Jewish eyes. Their question is tantamount to saying that Jesus is a very evil man. It is about as big a rejection of Jesus as it is possible to make.
And yet Jesus continues to talk to them, to try to explain to them who he is. He constantly reaches out with mercy; he never stops trying to save people, all people, even those who oppose him most bitterly.
But he continued, ‘You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 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.’
Jesus points once again at his heavenly origin, and the need for people to follow him if they are to do the will of his Father.
‘Who are you?’ they asked.
I wonder what prompted this question? Did one of them have a sudden perception that perhaps Jesus was telling the truth and that it was important?
‘Just what I have been telling you from the beginning,’ Jesus replied. ‘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.’
Jesus points out that his message has been consistent ever since he started his ministry, “Follow me. I am God’s son, the Son of Man, the Messiah. All that the Father requires of you is that you follow me. God the Father is trustworthy.”
They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father. 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. The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.’
And now Jesus speaks prophetically again. When his opponents have contrived to have the Romans crucify him, when they have ‘lifted up the Son of Man’, then the world will see his perfect obedience to the will of the Father.
Even as he spoke, many believed in him.
The persistence of Jesus’ mercy brings many to believe in him. Like Jesus, we should never tire of reaching out to those who need him!
Heavenly Father, Thank you for Jesus’ perfect obedience to your will. Please help me to follow him obediently, trusting in your love for me. In Jesus’ name, Amen
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About three months ago the sixty-year-old cousin of a friend had a serious accident. It left her quadriplegic, without sensation below the neck. Not surprisingly she has felt despairing about her situation. The House Group to which I belong has been praying for her healing.
Over this Easter weekend I have been sent news that she has regained some feeling in her fingers! She’s also feeling more positive about her life. Praise God!