Sermon Notes for Passion Sunday 13 March 2016 Anno Domini
46 Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? 47 He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. 48 Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? 49 Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me. 50 And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth. 51 Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death. 52 Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death. 53 Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself? 54 Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: 55 Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. 57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? 58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. 59 Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by. (John 8:46-59)
Jesus is speaking, in this text, the religious leaders of old Israel. The episode ends with these same leaders taking up stones to kill the Son of God. Make no mistake – were our Lord to come to the mainline churches of our day in like manner, the response would differ not in the least.
God speaks to His own, and His own hear His Voice. If we are born of God, we shall surely enjoy His counsel and comfort. When God’s Word is proclaimed with power and conviction, no argument can stand against it. Since the enemies of God cannot brook the preaching of the Word, and cannot refute it, the weapon of choice is to attack the messenger. Their great problem in attacking Christ is not only the fact that He is the Messenger, but also the Message. How often have we seen their futile attempts to trap Him in His Words redound to their detriment? Even the Church has often struggle with faith. The Church of the modern era no longer struggles with faith – they have lost it! Can it be true that those who believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ shall never see death? If we believe God, we will believe all that He has told us. Every material entity in a material world must fade away and die, but those who are born of the Spirit in Christ have spirits that shall never perish in death or Hell. What is it that makes a man own a reputation of character and strength? It is not his own boasting of himself for reputations are established by more than mere words – it is the testimony of others who know the man and his life that establishes strong reputation and character. Christ did not testify of Himself because His Father in Heaven had already given, and was giving, a Holy Testimony and Revelation of His Son. When we are under God’s care and protection, the most violent of criminals cannot lay hands on us without the Father’s permit.
46 Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? Has any man present brought charges against Christ? How often did they tempt Him to make a misstep, but He always turned the tables on clerical rascals every bit as greedy in nature and egregious in false teaching as those modern day wonders who populate pulpits across America in our own day. Even when He proved to them their error, they never turned from it. To be honest, they could not turn, for they were of their children the devil.
47 He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. I never heard the counsel of another father and mother in my own home though it was given in every home in my neighborhood. I heard only the counsel of my own God-given parents. If we are sheep of our Special Shepherd, we may even hear the mumblings of other shepherds with other flocks, but is the Voice of our own shepherd that we hear and follow. It is a fact that wolves will not hear the gentle commands of the Good Shepherd. It is not their intent to hear, but to tear and destroy the sheep. They do not hear and follow because it is not in their nature to hear and follow.
48 Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? Since Christ has truly identified these culprits as not true members of the family of God, they return to their old, trite argument of bloodlines. They call Christ a Samaritan (which they do not consider members of Israel). Suddenly, just by merely speaking words of reason and logic – and doing or saying nothing vile – Christ is labelled as having a devil! Need I remind you that rulers of the Jews have committed blasphemy and, this, not the first time?
49 Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me. Christ has accused these men of nothing that is not an absolute of the Holy Scriptures. Since Christ honors the Word of God the Father, and these men do not, which of the two have a devil? The Pharisees and Jews refuted, in custom, tradition, and action, the Word of God. They dishonor God thereby and even so His Son.
50 And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth. Christ came to redeem and not to judge. The judgment has already been made by God’s Holy Word. It is by the standard of that Word that men are judged. If we are IN Christ, we are not under the terms of the Law and condemnation. But these men were far from the gates of the Holy City of God. Their deeds would judge them by that perfect standard of the Law. If we judge sin around us by God’s Law, and not our own opinion, then it is that Law of God that judges and not us.
51 Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death. This solution is too simple – too plain bread – for the sophisticated oracles of Judaism. How short a stride from hate and condemnation to freedom and liberty in Christ, but East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet:
Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never
the twain shall meet,
Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s
great Judgment Seat.
Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)
“In Christ all shall be made alive; but that the depth and extent of the Scriptural term life can never be limited to the mere revival of the soul from death or unconsciousness seems obvious on the most cursory inspection of the sacred volume. So far is mere immortality from answering to this gift of life, that there is a species of immortality to which the title of death, “eternal death,” and the “second death” is given. It appears hence that this life, as well as the death spoken of in the text, is essentially a moral, not a merely physical, state or notion; that it is a blessed and spiritual vitality. To express His highest spiritual bestowments no term is more frequently employed by our blessed Lord than “light.” Now, this light is itself perpetually connected with His descriptions or intimations of the life He was to bestow. “My followers shall have the ‘light of life,'” He declares to the Pharisees; while the shadow of death is, as you know, the constant type of a state of hopeless spiritual ruin to those who do not know Christ and understand that shadow to have no power over them.” Rev. V. M. Taylor, Peter the Apostle
52 Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death. They are actually accusing Jesus of denying that Abraham followed God. They know that there is a grave in Machpelah that contains the bones of Abraham. Their dim wits, lighted by darkness only, cannot comprehend (or refuse to) the words of Christ. All they know and understand is the “here and now”. An eternal Heaven escapes their imagination. They may make allusions to that Heaven, just as false professor of our own time do, but they do not believe that any “sophisticated and educated” marvel could ever seriously believe it – just like most modern false teachers.
53 Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself? They know DEATH, but they do not know LIFE! Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Their scale-covered eyes do not see because they have dwelt in darkness so very long that they are blinded to Light.
54 Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: How can men know intimately a great King and not recognize His sons and daughters? It is actually impossible. The King sends His Son to greet those who claim His sovereignty. He forewarns them of His son’s Coming. He has written to them of it, spoken of it to them by the prophets whom they killed, and now the genuine Article stands before them and they know it not – or DO they?
55 Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying. It is likely that the Jews have a head knowledge of God, but they have changed His character and description from that which He claims to be, to one which suits their own passions. When we know God of a truth we cannot disavow His sayings as the Chart and Compass of our lives.
56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. Quite often we fail to remember that Abraham was a Christian like unto the true Christian of this day. His view of Christ was ALL of faith. He looked forward, in faith, to the Coming Redeemer in Christ. He was preached the Gospel and he believed the Gospel. Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. (Gal 3:6-8) It was not the Stones of Sinai, or of Moses, that saves, but the Grace of God in Christ Jesus.
Abraham rejoiced to see the day of Christ. He had a glimpse of that day of the birth of Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary, as He had a glimpse also of the manner in which Jesus Christ should work out our redemption. He took his son Isaac and offered him up on Mount Moriah—that Isaac so exceedingly dear, of whom it was said, that “in Isaac shall thy seed be called.” He offered him up, his one hope of becoming the father of many nations. And that act of Abraham—that act of faith, was counted unto him for righteousness; and he is held up for ever as the father of the faithful. To him, as St. Paul writes, “The Scripture foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the Gospel, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.”
Jesus Christ Himself lived before Abraham was born. Whenever God is spoken of as holding communion and as being visible to man, it is in the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, God, the Son, Jesus Christ. It is He who declares to us the Father. It is He who represents God to us, and is Himself God, even Jesus Christ. This was He who talked with and was called the friend of Abraham. It was He who was the Giver of the Law to Moses, it is He by whose agency the worlds were made, God the Supreme Deity dwelleth in the light which no man can approach: but Jesus Christ who is the image of the Invisible God, hath manifested, made known, declared to us, what God is; how good, how gracious, how ready to forgive, and how rich in mercy to those who call upon Him. It follows, then, that we should honour and worship Him as God, we should draw near with all reverence, with all holiness, with bowed heads and bowed hearts, to present our supplication before Him.
57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? God is the God of the living and not the dead. Of course, Jesus has seen Abraham. As a matter of fact, grasp this: He saw Abraham before Abraham saw himself.
58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. Yes, He was before Abraham, He was before Adam, He was before the worlds (which He made) were cast into orbit by the artful Finger of God. He was before Gabriel and all created angels. Don’t we recall that He was before the beginning of all things? There was never a time when Christ was not in the Eternal Presence – I AM!
59 Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by. Ah, yes, the Ancien’ Regime! Destroy all opposition – if not by words, then, by all means, with stones. Though truth may lie trampled beneath the iron heel of hate, it cannot be destroyed. Like the Spirit Itself, Truth shall arise time and again after the futile attempts of the ungodly to silence it. But, alas, it was not the appointed time of Christ to offer Himself. Though they would have stoned Him, He wonderfully passed through them, out of the Temple, under cover of Light. So may we all be protected from the wiles of the devil!
It is a great comfort to realize that our Lord is Eternally Present with His people, and He passes by unobserved by those who reject Him. Do you know the Presence of Christ in your heart today?