Pointing Upward: John 8:31-59

Focus Passage: John 8:31-59 (NIV)

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.”

33 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?”

34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word. 38 I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father.”

39 “Abraham is our father,” they answered.

“If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do what Abraham did. 40 As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. 41 You are doing the works of your own father.”

“We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.”

42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. 43 Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! 46 Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47 Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”

48 The Jews answered him, “Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?”

49 “I am not possessed by a demon,” said Jesus, “but I honor my Father and you dishonor me. 50 I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. 51 Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.”

52 At this they exclaimed, “Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that whoever obeys your word will never taste death. 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?”

54 Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. 55 Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and obey his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”

57 “You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!”

58 “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” 59 At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.

Read John 8:31-59 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

There are a lot of strong points in this passage, but one really big idea stood out to me as I read through this passage: Jesus did not come to give glory to Himself, but to point people to the Father (verses 49-50, 54). This is one of the biggest, mind bending ideas that I have seen shared about Jesus in the gospels: Jesus’ character does not strive to honor or bring glory to Himself.

However, there is another being who desperately wants to take Jesus’ place of honor (Isaiah 14:12-15). By the very nature of wanting to take Jesus’ place, Lucifer’s character runs completely contrary to this idea. He wants the glory to point to himself, because he wants to be the greatest.

Lucifer (Satan) wants to replace Jesus Christ. He tried in heaven, which caused him to be thrown out. I don’t doubt that he will try again here on earth. However, one of the easiest distinctions we can use to determine the true Christ from any false “christ” is this character trait. Boiled down to a simple question, we can ask: “Is this individual seeking glory for themselves, or are they uplifting God, Jesus as is written in the Bible, and not taking credit for their kindness?”

God often spreads our spiritual growth among many teachers (1 Corinthians 3:5-9). This is also uncharacteristic of someone who is seeking all the glory. Someone who wants all the glory is going to want to fill all the stages of growth, because they want to be recognized and honored. Another equally telling trait of a true Christ from a false “christ” is whether they are open to allow God to use a different individual to continue helping someone grow spiritually. Someone seeking their own glory is going to be interested in managing (and/or micromanaging) the growth process and this is counter to the character of Christ.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus “Reflective Bible Study” package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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