John 8:21-32, NIV

21 Once more Jesus said to them, "I am going away, and you will
look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot
come." 22 This made the Jews ask, "Will he kill himself? Is that
why he says, 'Where I go, you cannot come'?" 23 But he continued,
"You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am
not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins; if
you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed
die in your sins." 25 "Who are you?" they asked. "Just what
I have been claiming all along,"
Jesus replied.

26 "I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me
is reliable, and what I have heard from him I tell the world."
27 They did not understand that he was telling them about his
Father. 28 So Jesus said, "When you have lifted up the Son of
Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be and that I do
nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.
29 The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for
I always do what pleases him."

30 Even as he spoke, many put their faith in him. 31 To the Jews
who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching,
you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and
the truth will set you free."

July 23, 2011
This chapter sounds a lot like chapter 7, with a few additions.
Jesus is going away, where they will not be able to find him. Here
in chapter 8, that statement is connected to a new and unpleasant
revelation. His listeners will die in their sin!

There's a lot of quibbling going on in these two chapters, and I find it
very dreary. And not very edifying. But to the gospel writer, it was very
important to plow through these grounds of contention which divided
Jesus from the disbelieving people John called "the Jews".

Again the question surfaced: Who do you think you are!? The answer:
I've already told you! Of course people couldn't appreciate the battle
being waged before their eyes, so Jesus painted a picture. When "I am
lifted up" you will know I am who I claim to be and that I speak what the
Father taught me.

There were some who were convinced by these words of Jesus. To
them Jesus promised that if they remained faithful to him, they would
truly be his disciples. And knowing the truth of his claim, would
"set them free."

                                                                              More journal entries

July 28, 2011
Matthew, Mark and Luke inform us that Jesus preached about the
kingdom of heaven and told the people what is necessary to enter
therein. John seldom speaks of God's kingdom. Instead he focuses on
believing in Jesus, the Son of God and Savior of the world. Jesus is
the Word, Light and Life, a spring of Living Water, the Bread of Life; and
maybe most importantly to John, the Lamb of God (in the tradition of
the deliverance bought by the blood of the Passover lamb).

The three Synoptic gospels follow the ministry of Jesus as he did the
works of God and mingled with the people involved. These are brief
encounters, one right after another. John, on the other hand, sets up
an encounter, such as with the woman at the well, Nicodemus, or his
brothers, and then uses that story as the backdrop for a grand discourse.

In the New Testament, John is somewhere between the facts about
the life and death of Jesus as recorded in the Synoptic gospels and the
commentary which explains what the life and death of Jesus meant
for all creation which we find in the letters of Saint Paul.

What started this discourse we are in now? The brothers of Jesus
who, at this point in time, didn't "believe in Jesus".

September 15, 1983
I am going away . . . You will die in your sins. What do these two
statements have in common and why are they connected? Both phrases
depict separation. These are discomforting words spoken to religious
people who thought they were on God's side and knew who God is.
But because they rejected Jesus they were going to die in their sins,
separated from the Source of all life. They couldn't glimpse the truth.
They couldn't hear God in the voice of Jesus. They just didn't get it. In
an effort to defend their faith against corruption, they opposed Jesus,
tried to knock him off his perch, some even wanted to kill him. Their
defensive attitude closed the door to God's kingdom, and they
would not get in.

September 16, 1983
The Jewish leaders were intending to kill Jesus. Now they are asking if
he is going to kill himself. Jesus conveyed the impression that he had
control over both his life and his dying. On Good Friday he sacrificed
himself as the Lamb of God to atone for the sins of the world. Depending
on a person's perspective that could be interpreted as suicide but I think
most observers would say he was executed.

Jesus explained why they would die in their sins. They belonged to the
earth; in contrast Jesus belonged to heaven. Of this world; not of this
world. The first refuses to believe. The second accepts the Word
and follows eagerly, lovingly.

Jesus sounds harsh, made no effort to make friends, soften the truth
or lighten the mood. Jesus, were you as John portrayed you in these

September 17, 1983
They ask a logical question, "Who are you?" They were not drawn to
Jesus in their hearts, they had to know intellectually who he was before
they could decide. Jesus comes heart to heart and asks us to believe
in him. People who wait for understanding and for all their questions to
be answered, wait forever. Belief is a decision that comes from deep
inside, in the heart, gut, or whatever you call it..

September 19, 1983
Who are you? A basic question. And an "I've told you already" answer
that doesn't help to clear things up. Jesus, for these Pharisees couldn't
you state very simply, very clearly, in a nutshell "Who you are"? True you
had already told them in a hundred different ways who you were, but
maybe this time they are listening.

I often wonder how accurately your words were recorded. Were you
rejecting these people because they rejected you? That's human, not
God-like. Jesus, did you love the Pharisees as much as you loved your
followers? Did you love the Jewish leaders as much as you loved the
street women and crooks and other sinners. Did you love those who
hated you as much as those who loved you? Your love does not
particularly shine through these verses. Teach me how to understand
these words.

September 20, 1983
Yes, Jesus, there is much in me that you could condemn; much
throughout my life, much just yesterday. But Jesus' main concern in
this passage is not condemnation but exalting the one who sent him.
Jesus wants me to know the Father so well that I will recognize his daily
presence. God can come at any time and in any form. It's my job to
be open and ready.

The difference between the Pharisees and the followers is that the
followers were being forgiven of their sins. I also have the assurance
that as I confess my sins I too am being forgiven. I do not need to live
under the shadow of my sins unless I choose to. Jesus would much
rather spend his time concentrating on communion with the Father than
on condemning our sins. Help me spend my time and energy paying
attention to my Father in heaven and not berating myself for past failures.
Help me to seek forgiveness and then leave the sins behind where they
belong.  Past sins become excess baggage.

September 21, 1983
Lifted up - You can believe me now or believe me later. Now as Jesus
spoke these words, or later when you have lifted up the Son of Man.
Now or after you have executed the terrible deed you are contemplating.
Lifting up the Son of Man is a game changer. Then you will know and
the truth will set you free.

In the Old Testament, the big story was the events surrounding the
night of Passover, when God delivered the children of Israel from
slavery in Egypt.

The big story of the New Testament is Good Friday when Jesus was
lifted up to save all people from the slavery of sin. When you see the Son
of Man lifted up, the Spirit comes. Then you will believe and you will not
die in your sins.

September 22, 1983
"The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always
do what pleases him." -- May those words of Jesus be mine. The word
"always" excludes me, but I do love you. I thrill to your presence, inspiration
and leading. I want to follow you and be whatever you decide for me. From
reading the Bible, I have learned that mercy, righteousness, compassion
and obedience please you.

Christian theology asserts that God is with us, not because we please
him, but because it is God's nature to be faithful. Even to the extremes
expressed in Psalms 139--God is so with us, we can not escape his
presence even if we try to hide from God.

September 23, 1983
When dieting, a proper reverence and appreciation for food comes with
abstinence and eating less. In regards to wanting more of God, a proper
reverence and appreciation comes with "eating" more and more. Thank
you for the blessedness of being your beloved, and loving, child.

September 24, 1983
Jesus said: Be faithful to my words and you will be my disciple. Being 
loyal implies belief and if you really believe the teachings of Jesus, be
stedfast in applying them. Some believed because of the charisma, the
power and authority of the speaker, just like a good salesman can persuade
me that I need his product. But the test of their belief would come with time.
Jesus goes on then to talk about freedom from sin which seems to be
a "fruit" of belief and faithfulness. They can be free from doubts and
apprehensions; free from the sins of those who want to silence him.

September 27, 1983
You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free! The setting for
these famous words is--knowing who Jesus is. That the Father God, the
King of Heaven and Creator of the earth, sent Jesus and was with him.
Jesus was speaking and living in and under God's authority. This is the
truth that will set people free.

It has nothing to do with higher education. It's the simple Gospel message.
The truth of God--that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto
himself--will deliver you, from slavery into freedom, darkness into light,
death into life.

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