The Great I Am – John 8

Looking to build their case against Jesus, the pharisees and the teachers of the law brought before Him a woman caught in the act of adultery. However it was not the woman who was on trial but they did this to test Jesus. According to the Mosaic law, both parties caught in the act of adultery must be brought forward. But the teachers of the law, who supposedly knew the laws from cover to cover, turned a blind eye to the man involved in adultery.

They needed a scapegoat to test Jesus and living in a male-dominated culture, perhaps they felt that the woman would be collateral damage in their pursuit to crucify Jesus.

If Jesus agreed with the Mosaic law and asked the woman to be stoned, their case would fall apart. It is almost as if the pharisees were banking on the compassion of Jesus and knew that He would not be for killing her. Sometimes we know the compassion that God has for us and we try and exploit it by continuing in our sinful ways. There is no one else we take for granted like we do our Father.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.

John 8:6

Jesus started writing on the ground with His finger. No one records what Jesus wrote on the ground. Perhaps it was a symbolic gesture of God writing the sacred laws on the two stone tablets using His finger (Exodus 31:18). What He wrote is a mystery to us but when He got back up he said: “Let anyone of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” After saying those words He went back to writing on the ground. It is a reminder for all of us when we get on our high horse and start criticizing our fellow beings, forgetting our own iniquities. One by one the crowd dispersed until the woman was left alone with Jesus.

Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

John 8:10

Our accuser satan will fall short and leave from our presence if we submit ourselves to Christ. Remember that Jesus did not come to condemn us but to save us from our sins and this ruse to trap Him shows us just that.

Interrogations Resume

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 8:12

The pharisees challenged Jesus to bring forward another one who could speak on His behalf as Jewish law would accept testimony from at least two witnesses, none of whom would be the subject in question. Therefore they claimed that Jesus’s testimony about Himself was invalid. Jesus could have quoted countless prophets that came before Him, testifying about the Messiah but He knew that the pharisees had already made up their minds about Him.

But he continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.

John 8:23

They kept asking Jesus to reveal His identity as they could not understand what He was telling them so plainly. At last, Jesus told them that all would be revealed when they had lifted Him up by nailing Him to the cross (John 3:14). As Jesus spoke these words, many believed in Him.

Truth That Sets Us Free

To the ones that believed in His name, Jesus told them to hold on to His teachings as they were true and the truth would set them free. Hearing this the believers strongly refuted Jesus’s claims as they did not feel the need to be freed from any bondage as they were never slaves according to them.

They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”

John 8:33

For the majority of their history, the Israelites had been under the rule of one oppressive empire after another. Yet the believers of Jesus refused to accept that they needed to be set free by someone. Pride and self righteousness prevents us from self evolution and ask someone for help. Modern day Christians have a similar attitude towards righteous living as they feel they do not need anyone’s help to walk on the path of God. If we don’t admit that we have a problem we will never be willing to accept the solution that someone brings our way. The Jews were under the roman law and refused to call themselves slaves. We face temptations and betray God every single day yet we do not want to acknowledge that we are weak.

Jesus was not talking about setting their physical bodies free but was talking about their spirit which was held captive by satan. He came to die for our sins and be our ransom so that we may be freed from our eternal slavery. But the first step is for us to realize that we cannot be free without Jesus.

Greater Than Abraham

Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.

John 8:47

On being called the children of satan, the Jews took offense and started calling Jesus as a demon possessed Samaritan. They could not grasp the power of God to give life beyond death in this world. They claimed that the great Abraham died along with many other heroes of past and asked Jesus,

“Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?”

John 8:53

The Israelites kept holding on to people like Moses and Abraham more than God. The idea that Abraham could have died and not fulfilled the criteria that Jesus was talking about irked them. They refused to look beyond the words of Jesus and kept arguing with Him about His age, saying He is too young to exist since the time of Abraham.

“Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” At this, they picked up stones to stone him

John 8:58-59

Surely the crowds realized that Jesus was referencing to God’s identity as revealed to Moses and picked up stones to kill Him. At the start of the chapter Jesus saved the adulterous woman from being stoned and did not condemn her. But now the crowds had picked up the stones once again, this time, to kill Jesus. Jesus did not come to condemn us but take our deserved punishment for sin on Himself. The crowd was not successful in their attempts of a public assassination as the time for Jesus to die had not yet come. But this passage gives us a straight example of how the great I am has replaced us on the cross.

Questions

  • V4: In both Leviticus and Deuteronomy, both the man and woman caught in the act of adultery needed to be punished but why did the pharisees only bring the woman before Jesus?
  • V6: Why did they think this would be the basis to trap Jesus?
  • V6: What did Jesus write on the ground?
  • V13: What was the problem with Jesus’s testimony?
  • V33: For the majority of their history, the Jews had been under the rule of one oppressive empire after another. Why did the people not want to be released from their bondage and lied about their freedom?
  • V55: Abraham indirectly became a barrier for the Jews? Do we have similar barriers to hearing God’s voice when it comes to our ancestors?

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