After Jesus rescued the adulterous woman and sent her on her way, He returned to the steps in Solomon’s Porch. This was in the area known as the Treasury, which was also called the Court of Women.
As the Master sat, preparing to continue His instruction, someone in the crowd called out, “Teacher, why do the religious leaders want to kill you?” As soon as the man said it, his companion beside him gave him a warning jab with his elbow. Looking around, the speaker was dismayed to see that several Pharisees had returned to listen to what the Galilean troublemaker said to the crowd.
Jesus, aware of the presence of his enemies, answered the man with a clear voice that carried to all who were there. “The reason these men want to kill Me is because they do not know Me or My Father. They live their lives in the darkness and cannot see the truth, even when it is right in front of their faces. Even though I came to shine the light of truth into the darkness, there is little hope for these men because they love the darkness. They want to kill Me because I am the light of the world. The person who follows Me will not walk in the darkness of the world and the lies of the enemy. Instead, My followers will live in the light that brightly shines from My life in them.”
The listening Pharisees had heard enough and called out to the Teacher, “All of this stuff you’re saying about yourself can’t be taken seriously because you’re just witnessing about yourself! If what you’re saying is true, then where are your other witnesses?”
Jesus stopped and turned to face the gloating Pharisees. “Even if I am My own witness, My words are still true because I know where I came from and where I am going. But since you live in the darkness, you don’t know anything about Me.
“You’re standing over there judging Me, not by the truth, but based on what your darkened hearts think. I’m not judging you or anyone else. If I were to judge you, My judgment would be true because I would not be alone in it. I and the One Who sent Me would be judging together.
“As far as My witnesses are concerned, your own law says that the testimony of two men is true. I bear witness of Myself, and the Father Who sent Me also bears witness of Me.”
“What are you talking about?” the Pharisee yelled back. “Where is your father?”
“It’s like I said,” Jesus returned. “Because you are in the darkness, you are blind to the truth.”
“What truth?” the angry Pharisee shot back.
“The truth about Me and My Father. Because of your blindness, you don’t know who I am, nor do you know who My Father is. If you were in the light, you would not only know Me, but you would know My Father also.”
The more the religious leaders listened to the Teacher’s words, the more their hatred of Him grew, but their fear of the crowd kept them from trying to seize Jesus.
“I will go away,” Jesus called out, “and you will look for Me. Not only will you not find Me, but you will die in your sin. Because you choose to dwell in the darkness, you cannot come where I am going.”
“He keeps saying that,” one of the Pharisees said to his companion. “What’s he going to do, kill himself?”
“You can’t understand My words because you are in the darkness while I am the light; you are from below, while I am from above; you are of this world while I am not of this world. That’s why I said that you would die in your sins. Because unless you believe that I AM, you will die in your sins.”
“Wait! What did he say?” one of the Pharisees asked with a shocked look on his face. “Surely he didn’t call himself I AM. That’s God’s name!”
In response the other religious leader called out to Jesus, “What are you saying about yourself? Who are you?”
“I’m saying the same things I have always said,” Jesus returned, “but you can’t understand. I have many things to say about you and much to judge you for, but it’s not time for that yet. It’s the Father’s words that I came to speak, and His words are true. Whatever I hear from Him, I am speaking to the world.”
“Does any of that make sense to you?” one Pharisee asked the other.
“No, it doesn’t,” the other snapped. “I think he’s crazy.”
“There is coming a day,” Jesus said, “when you will lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I AM and that I do nothing on My own initiative. Everything I say is coming from the Father. I don’t worry about what you may do to Me because I am not alone. My Father is continually with Me, and I always do what is pleasing to Him.”
“Heh, heh,” laughed a man standing close to the Pharisees, “I guess he told you guys a thing or two!”
“You mean you’re supporting this crazy man?” one of the religious leaders asked.
“Yes, I am,” the man shot back, “and not only do I support Him, I believe in Him.”
“Yeah, me too!” said another man nearby. Several others echoed the same words.
“There you go!” the first man sneered back. “So go stuff THAT in your phylactery! Heh, heh, heh!”
Jesus, aware that some in the crowd had expressed faith in Him, spoke to them. “If any of you are interested in being My disciples, you must live your lives according to My words. Only then will you know the truth and be set truly free.”
“What do you mean ‘be set free’?” the man who had argued with the Pharisees called out. “We ain’t slaves! We’re Abraham’s children!”
“I’m telling you the truth—the absolute truth,” Jesus called back. “Everyone who continues in his sin is enslaved to sin, and slaves to sin will not inherit the Father’s blessings. But if the Father’s Son makes you free, you shall be absolutely free.”
“And I’m tellin’ YOU,” the man shot back angrily, “we ain’t slaves!
“Who does that guy think he is, callin’ us slaves?” snapped the man to his friends. “We ain’t slaves to nobody!”
Then turning to Jesus, he called out again, “You better watch yer mouth, Teacher! You keep sayin’ junk like that, an’ we’ll let the Pharisees have you! We ain’t slaves! We’re Abraham’s children!”
“I know you are Abraham’s children,” Jesus returned, “and yet you seek to kill me because you can’t receive My word. I speak the words My Father has given Me, and you do the things your father tells you.”
“Abraham is our father,” the man shot back belligerently.
“You tell him, Saul!” a friend nearby encouraged him.
“If you are Abraham’s children, then do the deeds of Abraham,” Jesus quickly replied. “But as it is, you’re seeking to kill Me simply because I told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham never did anything like that. You’re doing the deeds of your father.”
“We weren’t born illegitimate!” Saul roared back. “We have one Father, and that’s God!”
“If God were your Father,” Jesus returned, “then you would love Me because I came from God. I didn’t come here on My own initiative; God sent Me. You don’t understand what I’m saying because you live in the darkness. You can’t hear My words, and you can’t see who I am. You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and there’s no truth in him. Because he’s a liar, it is his nature to lie, and you as his children accept what he says. I told you the truth, but you won’t believe Me.
“Because you are consumed with the darkness, you think I’m evil, but none of you convicts Me of sin. If I speak the truth, why won’t you believe Me? He who is of God hears the words that God speaks. The reason you don’t hear them is because you are not of God.”
By now the Pharisees had joined forces with Saul and his friends. “Well, everybody,” one of the Pharisees called out, “I think that proves it. This guy is a Samaritan and has a demon!” Much derisive laughter followed this insult.
“I don’t have a demon,” Jesus returned, defending the Holy Spirit, “but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me. I’m not seeking My own glory. God will take care of all that. I’m telling you the truth—the absolute truth: if anyone comes to the light and hears My words, they will never see death.”
“Now we know you have a demon,” Saul roared back with a laugh. “Abraham and the prophets died. Are you better than all of them? Who do you think you are?”
“This is not going well,” Judas whispered to John, who was standing beside him.
“It means nothing if I say things to glorify Myself,” Jesus answered. “When it’s time for Me to be glorified, My Father, the One you call your God, will do it. But how can He be your God when you don’t know Him? I know Him. In fact, if I said I didn’t know Him, I would be a liar like you. But I do know Him, and I keep His word. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and when he saw it, he was glad.”
“You aren’t even fifty years old yet,” Saul shot back, “and you say you’ve seen Abraham?”
“Uh oh,” Judas hissed anxiously.
“I’m telling you the truth—the absolute truth,” Jesus said confidently. “Before Abraham was born, I AM.”
“Did you hear him?” one of the Pharisees yelled. “He did it again! He used God’s name for himself!”
“GET STONES!” Saul yelled to those around him. “WE’LL DRAG HIM FROM THE TEMPLE AND KILL HIM OUTSIDE!”
Many in the crowd rushed to find rocks to throw.
“Master, we’ve got to run!” Rock urged when he realized what was about to happen.
“Follow me,” Jesus said calmly and began to walk casually through the large group of people.
“Teacher, we need to run! The men who want to kill You are coming back with stones!”
Jesus actually stopped when he heard John’s anxious cry. He turned to His disciples even as the angry mob of murders rushed towards them. “Don’t be afraid, My friends,” Jesus said with a smile. “My time has not yet come.”
As He said these words, the rock throwers rushed past them to the steps where Jesus had been sitting. “Where is he?” they yelled anxiously. “Where did he go?”
“Teacher, they ran right by us, and now they are looking straight at us, but they don’t see us!” Matthew said what they all were thinking.
“Why can’t they see us, Lord?” Thomas asked.
“Because they are in the darkness,” Jesus answered. “As I said, I am the light of the world. For a brief time My Father gave them enough light to see Me and hear the words He gave Me to say, but they love the darkness too much to receive them. Now, because they rejected God’s words, the light has been taken from them, and we are hidden. And I say to each of you, do not reject the light that God brings to you, otherwise He may hide it from you as well. Come, let’s be going.”
By Alan W. Harris
(Inspired by John 8:12-59)