Christ Teaching in Jerusalem.
SUMMARY.--The Woman Taken in Adultery. The Light of the World. The Father's Witness. Freedom by the Truth. Abraham's Seed. The Son of Man before Abraham.
1. Went unto the mount of Olives. For the night, as he was wont to do the last week of his life.
3. The scribes and Pharisees. The scribes were theologians. They brought this woman to Jesus for trial to see what he would decide, and to criticise him. They wished grounds for charges ( verse 6 ).
6. Jesus stooped down, and . . . wrote. As though to say he understood their purposes and would pay no attention to them. This is the only time in the New Testament that our Lord is described as writing.
7-9. He that is without sin among you. When they persisted, saying, What sayest thou? he said what was an awful rebuke. They knew that he knew their lives, that they were as guilty as the woman they had brought. They forgot the demand of Moses ( Deut. 17:5-7 ) that the witnesses should cast the first stone, and his answer was like a bolt of lightning. Covered with shame, when he stooped and wrote again, they went out one by one.
11. Neither do I condemn thee. Here is mercy. Go, and sin no more. Here is admonition; the condition of her final pardon. He is very merciful, but does not excuse sin.
13, 14. My record is true. The Pharisees disputed this. Ordinarily the testimony of a man that he is sent from God is insufficient. He may be deceived, or a deceiver. But Jesus could not be deceived, for he knew all things; nor a deceiver, for he was Truth. Besides, he had other testimony ( verse 18 ).
15. Ye judge after the flesh. According to appearances. I judge no man. He lets their lives and consciences judge them.
17. It is written in your law. Deut. 19:15 . Observe Jesus says not our, but your law.
18. The Father . . . beareth witness. By the prophets, by the works that Jesus does, by his voice at the baptism, and by John the Baptist.
19. Where is thy Father? Asked in scorn, because he said "the Father beareth witness of me." If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father. The knowledge of Christ leads to a knowledge of the Father. See John 14:8 .
21. Whither I go, ye cannot come. Because they shall die in their sins, and he will return to heaven, where the sinner cannot enter.
22. Will he kill himself? They understood that he referred to his death, but parried the thought that he would die at their hands. Their words were partly mockery.
23, 24. I am from above. He shows more clearly that he returns to heaven, where they never can enter on account of their sins. This leads them to ask:
25. Who art thou? No doubt asked with a sneer; hence, he only refers them to his past words.
28. When ye have lifted up the Son of man. Lifted him up on the cross. His "lifting up" would be the means of breaking down unbelief. We can see how this was verified. In fifty days after he was lifted up three thousand believed in a single day, and the work of faith went on until the civilized world acknowledged him as King.
29. The Father hath not left me alone. The Father was with him. He was with him and in him. He was "the brightness of the Father's glory." He did those things that please him, and God was with him.
30. Many believed. That he was a divine teacher.
31. If ye continue in my word, then ye are my disciples indeed. They "believed on him," but their faith was not yet made perfect by obedience. Hence he adds the condition of discipleship. Their belief must move them to accept his word and obey it. There is a condition, continue in my word; a promise, shall be my disciples.
32. And ye shall know the truth. Disciples are learners. Their object is to know the truth. The way to know the truth is to obey the truth. The truth shall make you free. The Gospel obeyed, frees--frees from the yoke of Satan, from spiritual task-masters, from fear, fills the soul with hope and the free spirit of a son who serves the Father from love.
33. We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage. They trusted in their blood, rather than in obedience to the God of Abraham. Their proud language was false. Their nation had been in bondage for over six hundred years to Babylon, to Persia, to Macedon, to Syria, to Rome. They were also in bondage to sin.
34. Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. According to his custom, Christ makes no direct argument in reply, but states a truth and leaves them to apply it. The sinner is the slave of sin. See Rom. 7:9-24 .
35. The servant abideth not in the house for ever. The servant has no claim to remain continually in the same family, but may be changed at will. The son can remain because he is a son. The Jews, servants of sin, would soon be expelled from the Lord's house.
36. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. If you would be free indeed you must have the freedom that the Son bestows, and become children. In order to fully comprehend the figure, read Gal. 4:19-21 .
37. I know that ye are Abraham's seed. According to the flesh, but not according to the spirit. Abraham had no such spirit as they.
38. I speak that which I have seen with my Father. Jesus was the Son; he had dwelt in the Father's house. They had the spirit of Satan, and hence were, spiritually, his children.
41. Ye do the deeds of your father. Satan.
42. If God were your Father, ye would love me. They made this claim ( verse 41 ). Their hatred of the Son was proof that they were not God's children.
43. Ye cannot hear my word. Cannot receive it because Satan has your hearts, and is your father.
44. Ye are of your father, the devil. There are two households: that of God, composed of his children; and that of the devil, composed of his children. All who hear the voice of Christ become God's children by adoption ( Rom. 8:15-17 ), and all who refuse to hear him, do so because they belong to the devil's household and hear his voice. They "will do the lusts of their father." He was a murderer from the beginning. He caused the first murder, moves those who do murder, and those who seek to kill Christ are of his spirit.
46. Which of you convinceth me of sin? He points to his sinless character as a proof that there can be no falsehood in his words.
48. Thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? They resort to the language of passion and vituperation. Of all men they hated the Samaritans most, and hence this charge. They next accuse him, not of having a devil, but of being possessed with a demon, or evil spirit.
49. I honour my Father. He passes by in silence their first charge; the second he shows cannot be true, for he honors his Father, which a demon could not do; and yet the Jews dishonored him, while he honored the Father.
50. I seek not mine own glory. He cared little therefore for their abuse, and sought not to defend himself.
51. If a man keep my word, he shall never see death. Here again is a condition and a promise. Notice (1) Its universal character. If any one, Jew or Gentile, male or female, bond or free. (2) The condition: Keep my words. By obedience we are not only freed, but enter into life. (3) Shall not see death. Death of the body is not reckoned death, but merely the gate through which the believer enters upon a more perfect life. The real death is that of the soul.
53. Art thou greater than our father Abraham? Their argument is: They that heard the word of God are dead, and shall they who have heard thee not die? Their question is asked in scorn. Compare John 4:12 .
54. If I honour myself, my honour is nothing. They had just asked: Whom makest thou thyself? The Father, who honoreth him, will settle that question by his resurrection from the dead and exaltation.
56. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day . . . and was glad.. Saw it in promise by prophetic vision; whether or not "Abraham was greater," he rejoiced in the hope of the revelation of Christ.
57. Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? It had been about 2,000 years since the time of Abraham. Jesus did not say he had seen Abraham, but they pervert his words.
58. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. A solemn and official declaration, preceded by "Verily, verily." The utterance is a remarkable one. It does not merely assert that he was before Abraham, but before Abraham was, I AM. It identifies with the I AM of the Old Testament. Divinity has no past tense, no future tense, but always the present.
59. They took up stones to cast at him. They regarded his language blasphemy. If he had been only a man it would have been.