In last week’s lesson, we saw a confrontation between Jesus and the Pharisees which began with the woman caught in the act of adultery and ended with Jesus saying He was the light of the world.  Our lesson this week is going to continue with that same confrontation between Jesus and the Pharisees.  This week’s lesson is being taught from John 8:48-59, though I also recommend you read the scripture skipped in the book – John 8:28-47.

Do We Say Rightly?

The first verse of our lesson starts off with a question from the Jews.  They ask Jesus, “Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon (v.48)?”  We, of course, know that they have not said rightly.  Think of how silly this sounds asking Jesus this question!

They accuse Him of being both a Samaritan and being demon possessed. To explain why they accused Him of being a Samaritan:  Samaritans and Jews did not get along.  I would say that the two nations not getting along with one another was mostly on the Jews behalf.  The Jews looked down on Samaritans because Samaritans were once their brothers of the northern kingdom of Israel.  As I have taught before on several occasions, the northern kingdom of Israel was conquered by the Assyrians.  The Israelites of the northern kingdom began to intermingle with the gentiles which was considered a sin.

Still being guided by worldly logic

So, the Jews essentially looked down on the Samaritans because they saw them as being polluted.  In return, the Samaritans viewed the Jews as people who thought highly of themselves but looked down on them (which the Jews certainly did) (John 4:9, 19).  With this in mind, the accusation from the Jews to Jesus was that Jesus was a man polluted with sin.  He was so sin-filled, in their minds, they believed that Jesus was talking crazy.  This, we know, couldn’t be any further from the truth.

In the next few verses of this confrontation, we see Jesus tell the Jews that He was not demon possessed but that He honors His Father (vss. 49-51).  Let us keep in mind that these religious leaders had been struggling to understand a word that Jesus was saying because He was speaking spiritually but they were thinking worldly.  Their struggles to understand what Jesus was saying absolutely continued over into our lesson today.

Wrong in their convictions

Jesus in this lesson, and last week’s lesson, has been talking about His Father who is in heaven.  Yet, these religious leaders were still stuck on the idea that Jesus was just a man who had an earthly mom and an earthly dad.  They say to Jesus, “Now we know that You have a demon! Abraham is dead, and the prophets (v.52).”  They were fully convicted that Jesus was a demon because Jesus had just said, “if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.”

In their worldly logic, they were thinking about physical death and that holy men like Abraham and the prophets were dead.  So, by their logic, what Jesus had said about people never seeing death was insane.  Yet, Jesus was not talking about physical death but spiritual death.  Everybody will die physically – that’s the only way we can ever think about setting foot in an eternal kingdom that is spiritual.

Greater than Abraham

They asked Jesus pointedly, “Are You greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? And the prophets are dead. Who do You make Yourself out to be (v.53)?”  They felt that Jesus was exalting Himself and raising Himself above great men.  Now, we know the divine deity of Christ and that He, indeed, is greater than man because He is God.  These men believe Jesus was exalting Himself, but I’d say that it was these men who had the superiority complex and was exalting themselves.

Up to this point, all they have done is antagonize Jesus and dispute His every claim.  In the scripture the book skips, Jesus had told them that those believe in Him would be set free by the truth (v.31).  The religious leaders disputed this and said that they were not in bondage to anyone (v.32).  Jesus had been talking about being set free from the bondage of sin which all of us are a slave to (v.34).  They argued back and forth with Jesus to which Jesus poignantly told them that if they were truly Abraham’s children that they were not acting like him (vss.37-41).

By this point in our lesson, Jesus is putting the final nail into this confrontation with the religious leaders.  To answer their question, Jesus focuses again on God.  He says, “If I honor Myself, My honor is nothing. It is My Father who honors Me, of whom you say that He is your God (v.54).”  Jesus makes it very clear who His Father is and who is greater.  He tells them plainly that His Father is who they call God!  Then Jesus says of God, that God honors Him!  That is very clear as to who is the greater.

If we combine what Jesus says here with all that He has said to the multitude in our lesson – Jesus’ Hard Saying to our lesson last week, the message is very clear who Jesus is as well.  Jesus had told the multitude multiple times that He was heavenly sent and was of heaven (John 6:29, 32-33).  We even saw Jesus say this same thing to the religious leaders in our lesson last week when He said that He was from above (John 8:23).

Jesus proclaims His deity

So, Jesus tells them that God honors Him and that He is no liar (v.55).  How do you suppose that made the religious leaders feel after they heard Him say that God honors Him?  You would have to believe that they still most likely thought He was crazy.  Jesus told them that not only does God honor Him but that Abraham did so as well when he saw Him (v.56).

This was simply baffling to these religious leaders.  They say to Jesus, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham (v.57)?”  Again showing that they were still thinking worldly.  We know that Abraham was visited by the Lord prior to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 18:16-33).  We know that his grandson, Jacob (Israel), wrestled with God all night long (Gen. 32:22-28).  Yet, as Jesus had said before, “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him (John 1:18).”  It was the  preincarnate Christ that those of the Old Testament saw. 

We know this from studying scripture.  This was something the religious leaders were able to study as well, yet they still could not recognize who was standing before them.  Jesus responded to their question, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM (v.58).”  If we remember when Moses had asked the Lord, ‘who should I tell the people who sent me.’  God responded to tell the people that “I AM” had sent him to them (Ex. 3:13-14).   

So, it was extremely clear who Jesus was saying He was.  The chuckles and laughs were over for the religious leaders.  Where they did not move to stone Jesus before, because they could not understand Him, we will see that in the last verse of our lesson, they now understood well.  Jesus was proclaiming to be God and was not hiding it from anybody.  They were still thinking worldly, and moved to pick up stones to stone Jesus for blasphemy (v.59)Of course we know that Jesus was not blaspheming and was indeed speaking the truth.  Again, the onus is on us, just as was those religious leaders – we either believe this truth or reject this divine absolute truth.