John 8 - The Testimony of Christ

"He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." This well-known aphorism found in John 8:7 was softly spoken to the scribes and the Pharisees who brought a woman caught in adultery to the Master. The lesson so skillfully and concisely taught by Jesus in this incident could basis of a whole sermon in and of itself, but it is not this story that makes me love John 8. It's the following 50 verses that stand out as a guide to us all - Christ's testimony of Himself. (Note: Scripture references with only numbers are found in the Gospel of John)
He begins by testifying of himself as the "light of the world," (12) perhaps in reference to the large torches that were kept burning during all eight days of the Feast of Tabernacles. (7:2) The Pharisees immediately seize the opportunity and tell him that his testimony doesn't count because he's alone and according to the law (Duet 19:15), two or more witnesses are required to establish the truth. "Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true." (13) is their reasoning. The beauty of this chapter is that Christ's testimony of himself is not based on his own personal soul searching or research, but on his relationship to the Father (Matt 16:15-17) - without the Father, he is nothing (5:19), but with the Father he is the Christ. "A am one that bear witness of myself," he replies to the Pharisees, "and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me." (18, see also Matt 3:17). Practically in jest, the Pharisees shoot back, "Where is thy Father?" Building on a principle he taught a day earlier (7:16-17), Jesus answers, "Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also."
At this time in Christ's ministry, the Pharisees and other leaders in Jerusalem - collectively, "the Jews" - had already solidified their plans to kill Jesus. (7:1) This he knew, and he took precaution as he attended the Feast. (7:8-10) He knew that his teachings would incite the Jews to anger, but continued about the work of his Father in instructing his few believers in the temple. He had the power to call down legions of angels in his defense had he so desired, but that was not the plan nor the will of the Father. He continued to bear testimony of himself, "and no man laid hands on him; for his hour was not yet come." (20)
The Jews continued to pester him in hopes of catching him in his words and using such as witness against him. In calm dignity Jesus brushes aside such petty inquiries with flowing Hebrew poetry: "Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world." (23) His following witness of his submission to the Father bounces off the Pharisees ears but reaches the others in the temple treasury, causing many to believe. (30) He turns to them and utters a beautiful promise, that if they follow him, they "shall know the truth, and the truth shall make [them] free." (32) At this, the Jews' disposition turns from cunning to arrogant as they take offense at his implication that they, the seed of Abraham, are not already free. In response to their angry question, "How sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?" (33), Jesus boldly states: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin." (34) As Jesus continues to coolly explain how a child can only do the works it sees its father do, the Jews quickly retort. "Abraham is out father." (39)
One of the traditions that had been embellished into the unwritten laws of Jewry was that blood relation to Abraham meant a guaranteed a place in the kingdom of God (probably based on a misconstrued understanding of the Abrahamic covenant - see Genesis 17 and Genesis 22:15-18). This was reinforced spiritually as well as socially as is seen by the Jews' mentality towards other peoples, such as the Samaritans (because of their mixed ancestry, the Jews had "no dealings with the Samaritans" - see John 4:9). The Jews views them as a degenerate race. So when Jesus replies to their feeble retort, "If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham." (39), the cornered Jews think with disgust on the perceived unholy state of mixed blood. Their reaction is uncontrollably desperate: "We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God." (41) To this, Jesus attests again - a third time - that he is of the Father: "If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me." (42 - see also John 7:16 and 8:18).
Commenting on their inability to understand chastisement, Jesus transitions from cool corrective teachings to white-hot rebuke: "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth... And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not." (44-45) He concludes that they will not believe because they are not of God (47). Such direct assaults to their person, their position and their revered traditions threw the Pharisees into a fit of disgruntled rage. How dare a mere Galilean (7:41) deny that they, the rulers of the covenant people, were not of God? In an attempt to publicly disown the Lord himself from the Fathers (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob), they angrily spit back their greatest insult: "Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?" (48) Perhaps sorrowful for the evil state of his covenant people so personified in this handful of accusing Pharisees, Jesus quietly answers: "I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me." (49) Nevertheless, he continues his teaching, concluding with yet another seal to his testimony of his Messiahship: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death." (51 - see also 7:37-38, 8:31).
At this, the Jews feel empowered at finally finding a statement that they feel can be used against him. With an unspoken "Ah ha!" they hiss, "Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death. Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself?" (52-53) This last question - "Whom makest thou thyself?" - would be equivalent to our "Why do you think you are?" , in essence a testimony of their total and complete denial of Jesus as the Christ. Jesus corrects their twisted reason, stating that he would be a liar if he claimed he did not know God through keeping his sayings (54-55). Reversing the Jews' claim of Jesus' total disassociation with Abraham, he throws a curve ball that confounds even the most learned among them: "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad." (56) Confused and blinded by their own disbelief, the Jewish leaders asked what might have been their first sincere question, if only out of flabbergasted curiosity: "Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?" (57) Jesus took a breath before uttering his magnificent reply: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am." (58)
In the Old Testament, we read of the God who saved Jacob and his family from the great famine (Gen 46:2-3), the God who lead Israel our of Egypt and bondage (Ex 3:7-8), the Great Jehovah who covenanted eternal blessings to the fathers (Ex 6:3-4). This God of the Old Testament is the God to whom the Jews pledged their allegiance, their undying loyalty. And now, unbeknownst to them, this God stood before them and witnessed of himself - that he was the promised Messiah. The God of the Old Testament is Jesus Christ, known before his birth and earthly ministry as Jehovah. That name was so sacred among the Jews that reading or speaking it aloud was strictly prohibited. In Greek, the term used to identify "Jehovah" is the same term found in Ex 3:14, denoting "the eternal I AM." Here, Christ reiterates the term, witnessing to the Jews as he once did for Moses (Ex 3:14) that before Abraham (basically, before and above the law and the prophets to which the Jews so fervently adhered- before all things, he was God, Jehovah, even the Great I AM. At that, the Jews burst into a furious riot, scrambling for stones to cast at him that instant, hoping that their murderous plans could be accomplished then and there. He had openly witnessed of his Father, and of the wickedness of the leaders of Israel to the most hostile audience so far in his entire ministry. But more importantly, his time had come to proclaim his Messiahship, publicly, profoundly and fearlessly in the face of those who would eventually cause his crucifixion. But his hour of death had not yet come, and Jesus ducks away in the tumult and "went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by." (59)

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travel log
  • 02.13.08 - to the temple with Luan and his mom, good to be back
  • 02.14.08 - Mẫu's alive! and staying for the weekend
  • 02.15.08 - floor hockey and Thái food makes for some strange dreams
  • 02.17.08 - frisbee and swamp monster at the park: fun but I'm pooped!
  • 02.19.08 - just read Triết's response to my last post - game on!
  • 02.20.08 - raining and expected to continue through Sunday - thank goodness!
  • 02.21.08 - 3-hour nap is a bad idea right before bed
  • 02.23.08 - to the beach to watch kites, a baptism @ 5pm, and homemade bulgogi - what a day!
  • 02.25.08 - just gave myself a haircut - woo, cold head!
  • 02.26.08 - 75° and spring cleaning - couldn't feel better
  • 02.27.08 - fed the elders bún đậu tonight - think it's their first time
  • 03.01.08 - working on new background...
  • 03.02.08 - finalized javascript to change background without muffing up my other scripts
  • 03.03.08 - fhe: "In his strength I can do all things" (Alma 26:12)
  • 03.07.08 - some decisions are harder than others, but some are downright excruciating
  • 03.08.08 - there is life after work... i almost forgot
  • 03.11.08 - the distance between good and bad is much shorter than between better and best
  • 03.12.08 - conversion is sometimes a gradual process, so much so that we don't even notice
  • 03.14.08 - for some reason everything was a little harder today, looking forward for bed!
  • 03.15.08 - last night after blog reading, I missed OnlyBlue, today I find she's back
  • 03.16.08 - best day of my life!
  • 03.19.08 - "Pray for the answer that they've been looking for"
release notes v1.0 - FINALLY DONE!
  • 12.07 - first thought of starting a new blog
  • 01.08 - busy with election stuff but blog design still on back burner
  • 01.13.08 - first idea to imitate jk rowling with the "desk" theme
  • 01.28.08 - start sketching current design, breaking down development into phases
  • 02.02.08 - election only days away but still drafting final plans
  • 02.04.08 - v0.6 LAUNCH
    • main components (blog body, sidebar, header, etc) designed and implemented
    • styling for font, links, drop caps, etc. finished
  • 02.07.08 - v0.8 LAUNCH
    • image style to imitate polariod
    • moveability - post-it notes and static clings can be repositioned by drag and drop
    • release notes styled and written
  • 02.16.08 - travel log (beta) added in hopes of catching the mundane
  • 02.22.08 - lightbox 2.03 reinstalled and working fine (hopefully - let me know otherwise)
  • 02.26.08 - v0.9 LAUNCH
    • travel log seems to be working, so I'll keep it
    • lightbox also seems to have passed the test, so it's a keeper
    • some credits/info added to bottom (will expand)
    • keeping old Viet terms in archive for future viewing
  • 03.18.08 - v1.0 LAUNCH
    • installation and testing of time-sensitive background completed (for now)