Our Redeemer-Judge: John 8:12-30

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As we continue moving through John’s gospel, we come to another place where Jesus challenges the crowds, and from the context of this event, this crowd included a number of Pharisees. It is fascinating in my mind when reading this event to discover that the challenge the religious leaders bring to Jesus looks like a valid challenge on the surface. However, for these religious leaders’ challenge to be valid, they would have to reject much more than they would like to admit.

With that said, let’s read about what happened and about the challenge these religious leaders give Jesus.

Our passage for this event is found in John’s gospel, chapter 8, and we will read it from the New Century Version. Starting in verse 12, John tells us that:

12 Later, Jesus talked to the people again, saying, “I am the light of the world. The person who follows me will never live in darkness but will have the light that gives life.”

13 The Pharisees said to Jesus, “When you talk about yourself, you are the only one to say these things are true. We cannot accept what you say.”

14 Jesus answered, “Yes, I am saying these things about myself, but they are true. I know where I came from and where I am going. But you don’t know where I came from or where I am going. 15 You judge by human standards. I am not judging anyone. 16 But when I do judge, I judge truthfully, because I am not alone. The Father who sent me is with me. 17 Your own law says that when two witnesses say the same thing, you must accept what they say. 18 I am one of the witnesses who speaks about myself, and the Father who sent me is the other witness.”

19 They asked, “Where is your father?”

Jesus answered, “You don’t know me or my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father, too.” 20 Jesus said these things while he was teaching in the Temple, near where the money is kept. But no one arrested him, because the right time for him had not yet come.

21 Again, Jesus said to the people, “I will leave you, and you will look for me, but you will die in your sins. You cannot come where I am going.”

22 So the Jews asked, “Will he kill himself? Is that why he said, ‘You cannot come where I am going’?”

23 Jesus said, “You people are from here below, but I am from above. You belong to this world, but I don’t belong to this world. 24 So I told you that you would die in your sins. Yes, you will die in your sins if you don’t believe that I am he.”

25 They asked, “Then who are you?”

Jesus answered, “I am what I have told you from the beginning. 26 I have many things to say and decide about you. But I tell people only the things I have heard from the One who sent me, and he speaks the truth.”

27 The people did not understand that he was talking to them about the Father. 28 So Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, you will know that I am he. You will know that these things I do are not by my own authority but that I say only what the Father has taught me. 29 The One who sent me is with me. I always do what is pleasing to him, so he has not left me alone.” 30 While Jesus was saying these things, many people believed in him.

In this passage, Jesus makes some very bold claims. And the religious leaders present were quick to challenge Jesus’ claims based on the detail that they did not see anyone else validating these claims.

This challenge is one of the better challenges the religious leaders could think of, because any secondary witness validating Jesus’ claims could immediately be challenged, judged, and likely discredited. Because of this, I suspect this is why Jesus didn’t remind them of John the Baptist, who made the same claim about Jesus. I also suspect this is why Jesus didn’t pull out the secondary witness of the scripture, because it would cut to the heart of their belief, and this wasn’t likely the right time for that.

Instead, Jesus counter-challenged the religious leaders on the detail that His secondary witness is God the Father, and that only those who knew Him would also be able to recognize the Father. Jesus subtly dismisses the religious leaders’ challenge by giving them a secondary witness but also telling them that they are unlikely to ever know Him.

Jesus emphasizes that without faith in Him, specifically faith in Jesus, everyone present, and we could also say everyone at any point in history, will die in their sins. Only through Jesus is a made way for us to trade our sins away. Jesus offers to take the punishment for our sins and in return, He offers us the life that He deserved – a life that can begin today and extend into eternity.

However, in this event, and in what Jesus shares, He makes a powerful set of claims that are easy to miss. In verses 15 and the first part of 16, Jesus tells those present that: “You judge by human standards. I am not judging anyone. But when I do judge, I judge truthfully, because I am not alone.

This truth is powerful, because it tells us that Jesus did not come as a judge when He came to earth in the first century. Instead, while Jesus doesn’t claim the role of judge at that point, He does foreshadow that He will judge in the future. This verse brings out the powerful truth that: Our redeemer is also Our Judge.

If you have ever been worried or uneasy about God the Father judging you and that somewhere in your past is an unconfessed sin that could forever separate you from God forever, you should take that worry to Jesus, and understand that Jesus is not only your Redeemer, He is also the Judge. We don’t have a Judge who is unfamiliar with what life is like as a human living in a sinful world. Our Judge understands our lives better than we might be willing to accept, and our Judge gave His life to redeem us.

God loves us so much that Jesus came to take our place. Jesus not only became our Redeemer on the cross, Jesus also happens to be our Judge. This means that Satan’s accusations against us can simply be brushed aside by our Judge when we accept the gift of His sacrifice on our behalf, and let His perfect life cover our sins.

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

As I always challenge you to do, intentionally seek God first in your life and choose today to accept Jesus’ gift in your life. Choose to place your faith, hope, trust, and belief in what Jesus accomplished for humanity on the cross, and ask Him to take your sin-filled past and give you His life in exchange. This prayer is one that Jesus is more than happy to answer!

Also, continue praying and studying the Bible for yourself to learn and grow closer to God and Jesus each and every day. Choose to pray and study personally in order to make your relationship with God personal, and don’t let anyone get in the way of your relationship with God!

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or run from where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Year in John – Episode 20: When some religious leaders challenge Jesus about some of His claims, discover in Jesus’ response a powerful truth about who ultimately will judge, and why this truth is one of the biggest promises in the entire Bible!

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