Sunday, June 25, 2023

I am the way, the truth, and the life (John 8:12-59)

So, back to John chapter eight, where Jesus is still arguing in the Temple. The questions about Jesus's witness of himself were answered in my super-long post on John chapter five, although I don't think I mentioned there the interesting claim, that Jesus makes here about being two witnesses, since he is a witness for himself and the Father is a witness; I'm not sure if he's talking about the Father's voice on the day of his baptism, or more generally the scripture, perhaps. I also talked about Jesus judging people earlier in that post.

Jesus mentions in verses 21 and 24 that people who don't believe in him "die in your sins." This is a reference to the idea that faith in Jesus is necessary for salvation, although as I've discussed several times in this blog, it's potentially more complicated. It's interesting that the SAB likes "the truth shall make you free" in verse 32, because while yes, I think we can all agree the truth is a good thing, Jesus is talking about himself (see John 14:6). Jesus is the truth, and he will set you free from the bondage of sin.(When he says "servant" in verses 34 and 35, think "slave".)

Interestingly, in verse 41, the Pharisees speak of being "born of fornication" which strongly implies they somehow know Jesus's parents weren't married when he was conceived. I find it interesting that this fact might be common knowledge. Jesus says of the Pharisees that their father is the devil, which is definitely some strong language, as the SAB notes.

Jesus says in verse 31, "If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death." This provokes the SAB to ask, Must everyone die? which I answered in Genesis chapter five, but I should reexamine here. The thing about what Jesus is saying here is, well, taken literally, it's obviously not true. Christians die; ones of all denominations throughout the 2,000 years of church history without known exception have died. So what is Jesus really trying to tell his audience? I talked about this a bit elsewhere, including in my discussion on Hell in chapter five, where in verse 24, Jesus says, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life." There's a theological idea here that in addition to the physical life and death of the body, there is a spiritual life and death of the soul. Whether this "death" is eternal condemnation to Hell or an actual destruction of the soul through Hell fire is not entirely clear, but it's talked about several times in the book of Revelation, notably in 2:11b, "He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death," and 20:14, "And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death."

There's an interesting line by Jesus here in verse 58, "Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am." A lot of people say that Jesus never claimed to be God, but as the SAB notes, and the Pharisees as well, who pick up stones to kill him for blasphemy, Jesus is claiming to be God here. I answered the question of whether Jesus was God in John chapter one, where of course I said yes.

1 comment:

Brucker said...

Okay, confession time: I actually posted this while actually in church while the service was in session. Does that make me a bad Christian that I was blogging when I should have been worshipping? I don't know, but so often when I am so close to wrapping up a post, I can't seen to go back to life until I finish it off!