John 8 – Session 10

John 8 – Jesus Friend of Sinners


The Sequence of Events
John 8 is an extended passage of 59 verses which combines the compassion and love of Jesus, another great “I Am” proclamation, the hate and conspiracy of the Jewish leaders, and an extended section of Jesus’ relationship with His Father (a major  theme begun in Jn.7).  The chapter begins with the touching of the woman caught in adultery.  The story in John 7:53-8:11 seems to appropriately fit into this point of the  narrative of Jesus’ ministry and seems to add context to the interaction Jesus has with the Jews further into this chapter.  However, you may see brackets or other indication in your Bible that this story is debated  because these verses are not in the older more authoritative manuscripts, so it is possible they were not authentically written by John as a part of his gospel.  While possibly an actual event during Jesus’ ministry handed down through church tradition, the story was more likely added in later manuscripts by well-meaning church leaders.  The sequence then is to go directly from the debate by the Jewish leaders of Jesus’ authenticity in John 7:45-52 to John 8:12 as the inspired text.At this point, John records the second “I AM” statement declared by Jesus, “I Am the Light of the World”.  He is making reference to the traditions of the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles that is referenced in John 7 where lights are a major feature of the celebration. He also hearkens back to many OT allusions to God’s guidance for His people.  Jesus continues to align Himself with the rich OT references to God’s Messiah being a light for believers in the Millennial Kingdom (compare Isa. 60:19-22).  Although begun with “Light of the world” truth, this lengthy chapter is not “warm and fuzzy”, it is contentious and uncomfortable, yet with nuggets of truth taught by the Lord (8:32, 36).  Note that the conspirators interrupt Jesus ten times in this chapter as the conflict rages.

  • A story of tragic life and a travesty of justice
    While most likely not in John’s original manuscript for his Gospel, this story in Jn. 8:1-11 nonetheless forms an effective preface to the great “Light of the World” passage which follows.  The Jews are being manipulative of this woman – there is no regard or compassion for her needs.  They are really seeking to entrap Jesus and sentence Him to death with no trial. They think they have a clever situation to confront Jesus, and ask ”What then do You say?” It is as if they are trying to make our Creator God beg for mercy.
  • The second “I Am” proclamation in John
    • The seven “I Am” statements by Jesus in John’s Gospel form a special line of demarcation in the life of the Savior, and show the progression of truth John has in mind as well.
    • 6:35, “I am the Bread of Life”
    • 8:12, “I am the Light of the World”
    • 10:7,9, “I am the Door of the sheep”
    • 10:11,14, “I am the Good Shepherd”
    • 11:25, “I am the Resurrection and the Life”
    • 14:6, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life
    • 15:1, 5, “I am the Vine”

Bible Study Journal
Take time to look up each of the “I Am” statements in John, note them in your Bible Study Journal,  adding some comments about how how you think each statement relates to Jesus being our Savior.  If you have already noted them in your journal, spend some time reviewing and adding to your notes.

John 8:12-20-
The Light of the World

  • Water & Light
    • The Feast of Tabernacles is called “sukkat” which refers to the temporary dwellings that faithful Jews erect for the week of worship and eating.  This is a picture of the temporary shelters farmers would set up in the fields while they harvest the olive and grape crops.  For centuries, each generation of Jewish families would have had a special anticipation that the Messianic Kingdom could be fulfilled in their lifetime.
    • For the week of this feast, special “booths” are set up (even today in Israel) and festivities are held including music and celebration.  A special celebration occurs every morning of the week with the Water Drawing ritual – the priest takes water from the pool of Siloam, carries it up to the Temple and pours it on the Great Altar.  Also during the feast week, the priests light four very large lamp posts in the Temple courtyard – they were lit every evening and were bright enough to be seen all over Jerusalem.  Faithful Jews would be reminded by the lamps of God’s faithfulness to His people in the wilderness
  • “I AM the light of the world”
    • In Jn. 7:35, on the last day of the Feast, Jesus cried out “If anyone is thirsty…” – then in 8:12, He declares “I am the light of the world”.  It is appropriate that Jesus declares this great truth while those large lamps from the feast were burning.
    • Although Jesus was often misunderstood, in 8:12-20, it seems that the people understood Jesus, v.30, while others rejected Him, v.59.
    • Jesus is probably influenced by OT prophecy such as Isaiah 42:6-7; 49:6.
    • The character of light is often associated with Jesus Christ.  When Paul was going to Emmaus, he encountered the blinding light of Christ – think how we are blinded by the Light of Christ when it breaks through our .pursuit of the world.  Recall the piercing light of the Savior’s eyes as portrayed in Revelation 1:14; 2:18; 19:12.
    • Light in the Bible often points to God’s holiness and its being expressed in our world as God’s way to reveal Himself to us.
    • Light & darkness is an important Bible theme – Rom. 13:12-13, put aside darkness, be a soldier of Light – Eph. 6:12.

Bible Study Journal
Interesting to note that in John 6,7 and 8, Jesus laid claim to be the fulfillment of three special representations of God’s provision to Israel in the wilderness: water, bread, and light.  Scan back through those three chapters and find the references to each of these important pictures of God’s work.

  • The “witness issue”
    • In 8:13, the Jews attack Jesus’ witness for Himself – they did this often in John, and it is interesting that this links easily back to the witness challenge in 8:1-11.  For them, the issue was “Moses vs. Jesus” – their mastery of the Law was all they had to hope in.
    • Jesus claimed to offer true testimony because He knew His own origin and destiny  (Jn. 7:29, 33-34). And note that God the Father is also a true witness.
    • Jesus’ critics knew neither His origin or destiny.  The Pharisees only wanted to consider external facts. They had no intention to search out the spiritual truths of the Messiah.
    • Jesus responds with undeniable truth:  light bears witness to itself, “tells” you it is there.  Wiersbe comments that light bears witness to itself, it in effect alerts you to its presence, thus the comparison fits Christ perfectly.

Bible Study Journal
Make some notes in your journal about what you learn from these additional passages in John about Jesus’ “witness”: 3:9-13, 31-34; 5:36-38; 6:45-47; 8:38.

8:21-30, Jesus Misunderstood

  • The verbal attacks thrown at Jesus by the Jews become so emotional that they aren’t even able to hear to hear the truth Jesus was teaching in verses 24-30.   What Jesus is teaching about life and death, and His return, is misunderstood.  Look at the expressions  of confrontation in chapter Jn. 8:19-52 –
    • v.19 – “where is Your Father?” – Jesus does make the Father known (compare Jn. 1:14; 5:36; 14:10; 20:30)
    • v.22 – “will He kill Himself?”
    • v.25 – “who are You?”
    • v.33 – “How can You say “you will be made free?””
    • v.48 –  “You…have a demon”
    • v.52 – “Are You greater than.. Abraham?”
  • 8:21, 24 – You will die in Your Sins
    • Jesus’ statement here likely got a lot of listeners upset – while they are not biblically dealing with their sins personally (not being faithful to God’s Law) yet they didn’t want to hear about suffering consequences for their sin!  They refuse to give consideration to the tragedy of dying in their sins, they just wanted to discredit Him and be rid of Him.  Jesus’ response addresses this tragedy.
    • Four ways this statement is true:
      • Jn. 8:20-22 – they are Self-righteous, giving only pretentious adherence to Moses’ Law
      • Jn. 8:23-24 – they are earthbound, followers of Satan – Paul elaborates on how the world follows after Satan in Eph. 2:1-3
      • Jn. 8:24 – they are unbelievers, rejecting the true mission of the Messiah – just like what Jesus told Nicodemus (Jn. 3:3, 5, 18, 20)
      • Jn. 8:25-29 – they are willfully ignorant, they’ve heard Jesus speak Truth and they reject it
  • 8:25, “Who are you?”
    • The Jews didn’t recognize Who was standing before them, and didn’t believe Him – Jn. 1:11
    • They were wasting time instead of hearing the Truth
    • They stood there and didn’t realize this was the Messiah that Israel had anxiously awaited for centuries
    • Compare this amazed question to the disciples in the boat when Jesus calmed the storm:  “what kind of man is this?” (Matt. 8:27).  The difference is the disciples recognized the power of God’s Messiah – truth was revealed and they believed.
  • 8:28, the Son “lifted up”
    • This is a clear reference to the time when Moses set up a bronze serpent on a pole to deliver the people from death  – (Jn. 3:14; 12:32) – the people had to “look” and then “live” (Num. 21:9) – “Then you will know…”
    • Crucifixion – lifted up on the Cross to God the Father to offer His blood as payment for our sin
    • Glorification – taken up into heaven to sit on a throne at God’s right hand
    • “Then you will know” – many will come to faith in Him through His death & resurrection
    • This is the Father’s work
  • 8:29, Like Father, Like Son
    • Jesus is God’s Son, fully God, fully man (John 1:1-5)
    • As the Son came to earth, Jesus and His Father thought, spoke and acted as One – He does nothing on His own
    • This summarizes Jesus’ heartbeat expressed in John 5-7
  • 8:30, Many came to Believe
    • As John does often in his Gospel, he inserts a parenthetical comment
    • Here, in spite of the harassment of the Jews, there were still some who came to faith in Christ – even in Israel’s darkest hour, while many want to extinguish the Light

Bible Study Journal
Look through these OT Scripture that anticipate the coming of the Messiah and make some notes in your Journal.  Remember that the rebellious Jews would have these verses memorized!
Gen. 3:15; 49:10; Deut. 18:15; 2 Sam. 7:11-16; Isa. 11:1-5; 49:5-7; Eze. 34:23-24; Zech. 9:9

8:31-32 – Like Father, Like Son

  • V31, Abide in the Word – The Christian’s walk is established and demonstrated not only by abiding in Christ, but also in His Word, which is God’s Truth.  Christ’s example of His life with His Father is our model of devotion
  • V32, The Truth will make you free
    • The verse begins with great counsel from the Master Teacher to new believers – know the Truth.
    • The key words from this text guide our thinking for growing in Christ:  dwell in, abide in, and obey God’s Word.
    • “Continue” = Abiding leads to Freedom, vv32, 36. Don’t settle for “Mere Christianity”, the goal is “True Discipleship”. Abiding in Christ & His Word is a significant core truth of the NT.  Declare your faith in the finished work of Christ on the Cross then grow in that faith.
  • “My Father” – Jesus references His Father at least 12x in this passage, one of the most powerful passages of John.  Remember that John 5-8 is a significant expression of Jesus’ oneness with the Father and commitment to His mission.

8:33-38 – Point & Counterpoint

  • The Jewish Leaders Continue to Interrupt
    • They break into Jesus’ expressions of compassion and hope and seek to destroy His character and message.
      • In these verses, the Jews quickly catch an inference from what Jesus says… “Wait a minute – You say we can’t be “free”? Aren’t we already free? (Jn. 8:33) You say we’re slaves??  The children of Abraham should never be slaves… Jesus must be wrong!”
      • They could be viewing this as referring to spiritual slavery, but not likely considering their bias they’ve showing towards everything Jesus says, insisting on only a physical interpretation.  Except for that, they’re forgetting “little things” like the 400 years of slavery in Egypt, and the 70 years of bondage inflicted by Assyria & Babylon.
      • Jesus can give the slave freedom – just like that woman caught in adultery.  But faith in Truth must come first.
    • Verily, verily – “I am telling you the Truth” or “Most assuredly” (NAS)
      • This is said three times just in this chapter, inferring emphasis by John and Jesus.
      • The Jews have so much opportunity to hear God speak Truth in person!
    • v. 36, An emphatic reference to Jesus as the Son.
      • A son has authority, permanence, privilege – “You shall be free indeed!”
      • The Jews try to disparage Jesus’ relationship to Joseph & Mary – character assassination with no basis in truth
      • Jesus turns the table to the point of a “True” father, which He has – and they do as well, Satan
      • The stage is set for His last appearance in Jerusalem when Passover comes

8:39-59 – You Cannot Hear

  • The positive responses to Christ of the blind man and the adulterous woman drove the Jews to attack with even greater fury.
    • They make rude inference to Jesus’ father Joseph, that He might possibly even be illegitimate – the lowest blow of all.
    • Jesus responds with reference to their true father, Satan
    • V41-42, They were the ones with mistaken fatherhood – MacArthur observes that “sonship is predicated on conduct.” -a son demonstrates the characteristics of his father.
  • They went from wanting to stone the adulterous woman to pursuing stoning Jesus without trial.
    • Calvary is not far off – the stage is set for Jesus’ last appearance in Jerusalem.
  • Is Jesus the one being “grilled” here?
    • Not hardly – look at where He is, v20, in the Temple, teaching with authority.
    • V43-47, They are the ones who can’t hear – spiritually disabled
    • They resort to utter foolishness of accusing Jesus as demon-possessed
    • Jesus does live forever – He knew Abraham, He existed before time began, the eternal God “I AM”

Bible Study Journal
Spiritual blindness, the sad condition of those who are given over to Satan’s lies, is a serious biblical truth.  Review these verses that provide understanding about the spiritual condition of the Jewish leaders and make some notes about how you can apply these truths in your life and ministry to others.

  • Matt. 15:14; John 14:17-20; 1 Cor. 1:18-19; 2:14