What did I learn about Jesus?
- Jesus balances grace and truth as he ministers to people. (1-11)
- We must walk in the light if we want to experience the life of Jesus. (12)
What did I learn about disciple-making?
- Truth is found by remaining faithful to the teachings of Jesus. (31)
- Do I model obedience to Jesus’ teachings as I disciple others?
Extended thoughts and observations from Pastor Mark:
Good morning disciple-makers:
John 8 begins and ends with two attempted stonings; first of an adulterous woman and lastly, of Jesus himself.
It is the case that the story of the adulterous woman was not part of the earliest gospel. But it obviously pleased the Holy Spirit to preserve this precious story as part of our canon (final New Testament collection of books.) And we can see why. This is such a cynical attempt to trap Jesus. Since the male half of this tryst is not even present, as their law would have required, you can imagine that he, too, was part of the trap. In other words, they are using…and are ready to destroy… this woman in order to get Jesus. If he agrees that they should stone her for adultery, he’s in trouble with the Romans because Jews could not carry out capital punishment. If he saves her life, he is violating Jewish law. It seems like a perfect trap…and the only “cost” is the life of this woman of questionable character. It is hideous, isn’t it, the length they would go to destroy Jesus?
Several questions. What did he write in the dirt? It’s the only recorded instance of Jesus writing anything. Some imagine that he was writing the sins of the men who were ready to stone her. Fascinating. Also, why is this such a powerful example of grace and truth in combination? Jesus, the only one who had the right to condemn her, refuses to. Grace. BUT…he sends her off with a very strong admonition. What? “Go and sin no more.” This balance…leading with grace…but calling sin, sin and repudiating it…is a very tricky balance. Which side do you tend to fall down on?
The second half finds two new “I Am” statements (numbers 2 and 3 in the gospel, if you are counting…do you remember the first?) What are they? Here is found one of the secular world’s favorite Jesus quotes: “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” 31-32. BUT…the world treats “truth” as a disembodied principle. In this context, what does JESUS mean when he says, “truth?” (Take another look before you continue with my comments.)
Jesus is speaking about himself! HE is the truth that sets us free. “IF you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.” THAT is the preceding verse. And notice the connector: “THEN you will know the truth….” i.e., when you are a disciple of Jesus, only then will you know the truth that sets you free. Did you see the contrast between his truth and the “Father of Lies” later on? (Who is that?) Of course, this truth statement is an illustration of his earlier “I Am” in the chapter. I am the Light of the world.” Takes us back to John 1: “The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” With light comes truth!
And finally, the audacious claim of Jesus that, “Before Abraham was, I Am.” Not “I was”… but rather, “I Am.” This is the holy name of the eternal God. Jesus is claiming to have existed eternally…even before their father Abraham. And that is a last straw. They want to kill him for it.
Disciple-making takeaway for me is this: Truth is a person…Jesus! Saying that today, in our relativistic culture, is very offensive. But it is the claim that Jesus made for himself and we must have the courage to declare it: that only in Jesus, can we find real, life-giving, light-shedding truth. And only when we acknowledge Jesus as THE Truth…THE Light…can we experience the grace that he wants to offer to every one of us sinners.