Day 8 – Nick
n.b. Arguably the most inflammatory and offensive Jesus-passage in the entire bible
Summary of Chapter 8
Verses 1-11: In your bible you’ll notice the last/first section of John 7/8 is italicised because the 7:53-8:11 passage wasn’t originally included in the earliest manuscripts though it was still in the original Canon. Suffice to say for the benefits of this on-line study, the passage in question is wholly consistent with the rest of John’s gospel and the wider New Testament writings but it does open up an interesting conversation, if you’re that way inclined, over the Sunday dinner table! Further interesting study could be pursued around pseudepigrapha and the apocrypha by starting here.
Jesus defends the woman ‘caught in adultery’ with His kind, loving and street-wise wisdom, giving the rock-grasping accusers no alternative other than to retreat one by one.
Verses 12-20: This section picks up where 7:44 had left us – flick back and have a quick look. The temperature had been rising in the conversation between Jesus and the Jews as it seems that Jesus’ words become increasingly inflammatory and offensive to the Jewish audience. The inflammatory language was a grace, as it caught, because the scene was dowsed in pure darkness. Jesus appears as the Light (v12).
It seems clear that Jesus had an agenda here to be deliberately offensive. (I think it’s helpful to imagine the disciples within ear-shot almost wincing and possibly butt-clenching as the conversation unfolds in the temple courts). Perhaps the reason for Jesus’ escalating level of offensiveness was in response to the Pharisees escalating attempts to squeeze Him into a small Jewish box. Jesus was a Jewish man but only as the Incarnate Christ. The Jews wanted Jesus to see that His testimony was invalid because He, supposedly, spoke on His own; Jesus wanted the Jews to see that they were the ones caught in sin (cf. the woman), veiled by darkness and parented by the devil. As Jesus taught, the Jews couldn’t see that the Great I AM testified on His behalf as well but, that even if He hadn’t, Jesus broke every box because His own stand-alone testimony was more than enough.
Verses 21-30: The thermostat notches up. This scene might as well be an account of a conversation between an English man and a French man, neither of whom can speak the other’s language – there are two entirely different languages being spoken. Both Jesus and the Jews get more animated in conflict but even as Jesus spoke, many believed in Him. Think! Disagreements and conflicts can still be winsome when centred on living truth.
It’s worth noting the extension in Jesus’ train of thought from chapter 5 to this section of chapter 8 as the emphasis is on Jesus’ unity and perfect harmony with the unseen Father: Jesus only does what the Father does; He only says what the Father says.
Verses 31-47: The temperature still climbs up but in this section it’s more difficult to know who Jesus is speaking to – either the Jews who had shifted in belief towards Him or those who floundered in darkness, still wanting to kill Him.
Verses 48-58: Now we reach boiling point perhaps catalysed by the seriousness of the Jewish accusations towards the Spirit-filled Christ – that He was demon-possessed. Jesus would have been both righteously angry at this sacrilege and hurt by their dishonour. He responds with a ‘no holds barred’ response making it very clear that that Jesus calls Himself God. But it’s vital to remember that Jesus wasn’t an alien, unable to sympathise or feel; Jesus would have been hurt by this exchange as well as angered. Seeing Jesus as an egocentric, power-intoxicated Deity is not the way forward; He is pictured as a tender-hearted Brother as well as a Saviour.
As Jesus speaks through this chapter, this is the chain of progress for the Jews and Pharisees: Confusion—-Offense—-Gross Offense—-Scorn—-Murder
Key Thoughts from Chapter 8
- I want to pick up on an element of the passage I mentioned above, the one that’s in italics in your bible: Look at what the Pharisees wanted to do with the woman…a premeditated desire to stone her to death. Look at what the Pharisees wanted to do with Jesus…a reflex desire to stone Him to death. The point is, there will be both predetermined and more spontaneous decisions to persecute truth-tellers of the gospel.
- Verse 35 stands out to me as I read this chapter today,
Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it for ever.
We are more blessed that we can possibly imagine! Yes, being delivered from sin and darkness but to a Father and a Kingdom and a banqueting table of a King Who rules over absolutely everything. For ever.
- Abraham bursts onto the scene of this banqueting table, invited by the Jews who stood in the slaves’ quarters, as the focus of these verses. We’d do well to remember that Abraham was the friend of God, (James 2:23). I think that’s part of the point of this whole chapter: that it’s in the heart of God to be our Friend, not only our God.
- The chapter finishes with something we have very little time for now-a-days: absolute truth. Through Sunday School and the like, this chapter is best known for verse 32 that says, ‘Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free’. It’s indisputable that Jesus makes it abundantly clear that all of this was a matter of truth and lies. It’s not a question of finding some elements of what Jesus says as acceptable, as though pick and mix, but of fully accepting the other-worldly truth that He proclaimed. Anything outside of what He says is deemed as a lie from the pit of hell. (See 1 John 4:3).
Going back to the English and French men…it would seem that all of this is a clash of worlds rather than cultures. Jesus models Christian Fundamentalism but remember that the scene opens with His tender-hearted love, grace and compassion for a woman caught in the depths of her sin. Truth and grace; grace and truth.
Prayers from Chapter 8
Father, it seems amazing to me today that You have made a way for us to change from being half-hearted to whole-hearted, from being Your enemies to being Your friends. We love and praise You!