A Few Thoughts on John 8.

Our hearts are touched as we read the last verse of John 7 and the first verse of John 8. Nicodemus, who came to Jesus by night, had said "Does our law judge a man before it have first heard from himself, and know what he does?" and this had broken up the meeting of the council; "And every one went to His home, but Jesus went to the mount of Olives." The Son of the Father is in the world as a lonely stranger, rejected by His own from the outset, and misunderstood by His disciples. The failure of the disciples to understand Him is seen in His dealings with one of Samaria's erring daughters. There, in John 4, He brought the light to bear upon her conscience and revealed Himself to her, so that she might judge her ruin and her shame and receive into her soul the living water, and become a worshipper of the Father in spirit and in truth. "The disciples asked Him saying, Rabbi, eat. But He said to them, I have food to eat which ye do not know. The disciples therefore said to one another. Has anyone brought Him anything to eat." They did not understand that His food was to do the Father's will and to finish His work: they could not enter into this that His Father's glory was ever before Him.

His retirement to the mount of Olives bespeaks the loneliness of the Son of God, but also His unbroken communion with the Father. It was thus that He enjoyed the special refreshment, renewed strength and the Father's support, by which on the morrow He would render His final testimony to His own people, the Jews. Entering into the temple, early in the morning, all the people come to Him, and He sat down and taught them. The poor were ever ready to listen to His rich divine unfoldings, which were the joy of His own heart, but the scribes and the Pharisees were ever plotting against Him, trying to catch Him in His words, and finding fault with His works of grace and power. They bring to Him a woman, taken in adultery, saying, "Teacher . . . in the law Moses has commanded us to stone such; thou therefore, what sayest thou?" But Jesus, having stooped down, wrote with His finger on the ground. He was writing in His path through this world the story of the love of God, and this is indicated in His action here; writing with the finger of humanity, for the Word had become flesh, not the commandments of the law which God had written on the tables of stone, but the Father's commandment, which for His own was life eternal (John 12:49-50).

Lifting Himself up the Lord says to them "Let him that is without sin among you first cast the stone at her." Their persistent asking but brings from the Son of God the out-shining of the light; a light that manifested divine grace to the poor sinner and brought conviction to the accusers. It was true that Moses had spoken of judgment for sin, but this could not hinder the outshining of the Father's grace. But even in the giving of the law had not Israel sinned before the tables were brought into their midst? Did God intervene in unsparing judgment? True there was judgment, but judgment mingled with mercy, else not one of those in the camp of Israel would have been left alive. And was not the adultress but a picture of Israel? The Lord had to say they were "A wicked and adulterous generation" (Matt. 12:39); and it was to them He had brought the grace of God. He had not come to judge them, but to save; and His attitude to the woman was just the attitude of God to the adulterous nation. But there was not one among them without sin, so there was no one to carry out the judgment of the law against the sinner. He was without sin, but He had not come to execute the judgment of the law. Not one could stand the light that shone in the Person of the Son: they had come to plead against the sinner, but like their fathers in the wilderness they are exposed as sinners, and being convicted flee from the presence of the light.

After answering, the Lord again stooped and wrote on the ground; no doubt recalling the second writing of the law, which was given with the declaration of God's mercy and longsuffering (Ex. 34:1-7). Without this mercy all Israel must have perished: so here the poor sinner is spared, and retained in the presence of the Lord Jesus to learn of the ministry of grace of Him who had not come to condemn but to forgive.

"Again therefore Jesus spoke to them saying, I am the light of the world; he that follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life" (John 8:12). He will not confine Himself within the narrow limits of Judaism, but presents Himself as the light of the world, so that in Him life is made available for every man. He is the source of life for "In Him was life," and He is also the giver; and He is the object of all who avail themselves of the light, so that they should not walk in darkness. Poor, puny man, with his boasted intelligence, charges the Son of God with bearing record of Himself; and this but brings out further light on the greatness of His Person. It is true that He had not come to bear witness to Himself; His mission was to speak of the Father who had sent Him; but even if He bore witness to Himself it was a true witness, for He knew what they did not know, from whence He came and whither He was going. He could speak with divine certainty, knowing that He came from the Father and was returning to the Father. How simple the words, but how rich the unfoldings; He had come to tell them of the Father, of His grace and love, and of the divine affection that was the deep joy of His own heart and into which He would lead His own. (May our hearts take in more of these wonderful unfoldings which the Son delighted to make known!)

Not only was His witness true, but His judgment was true, a judgment in which He was not alone, for the Father was with Him in it. How different their judgments in the flesh! He has the constant companionship of the Father, He is not alone (John 8:29; John 16:32); He has the continual joy and support of the Father's company. What a meditation for our hearts; to contemplate the joy of divine Persons who are the source and manifestation of the eternal life that is ours to enjoy. The Father being with Him, and He being the manifestation of the Father, is the proof that His word is true.

In John 8:21 Jesus says "I go my way, and  whither I go, ye cannot come." He was about to enter into death to secure all that lay in the Father's will for His own glory and for the blessing of His own; and having accomplished that will in death He would enter into the Father's presence to be glorified, the answer to His perfect obedience in life and death. As for the Jews, having rejected the Son, they would look in vain for their Messiah, and would die in their sins; this being the destiny of all who refuse the presentation of the Person of the Son of God. But Jesus not only tells of their destiny, He points out to them the sphere to which they belong, saying, "Ye are from beneath." All the depth of moral darkness was theirs, and this shut them out from the wonderful revelation that shone out in Him Who is from above, from the dwelling place of all light, glory and blessedness. He had come to attract men to Himself that they might taste all the joys of that heavenly scene, and be in the joy of His company for ever. The Jews belonged to this world to which Jesus did not belong; He had no part in the religious system in which the will of man was predominant, and where there was the display of all man's wickedness, enmity and hatred, in his dread opposition to Him Who had come from the Father's world to tell out the Father's grace.

There can be no doubt that this chapter gives us the rejection of the testimony of the Son of God. They ask Him in John 8:25 "Who art Thou?" and He answers "Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning." From the outset of His testimony He had spoken to them of His Father. He was the eternal Word, the full expression of all the mind of God; He was the only-begotten Son Who ever dwells in the bosom of the Father; and the Father dwelt in Him, manifesting in Him His works and His words. What an object of adoration and worship; and how highly privileged we are to thus contemplate the greatness and glory of the Son, and to know that we have been enriched from the Father's resources, manifested in Him. He had many things to say and judge of those who refused His testimony, yea the Father's testimony in Him: but He was there to vindicate the Father as true, even if they refused what He spoke to them of the Father. But they did not understand that He was speaking of the Father: such was their state of darkness.

Anticipating His rejection, the Lord speaks of His death, saying, "When ye have lifted up the Son of Man. then shall ye know that I am He, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things," John 8:28. The Father was His constant companion, for He always sought to please Him. In past dispensations, men of God sought to please God, but every one was marked by failure; but this blessed Person was perfection in all His ways, His service being marked by constant activity and energy, and with a divine fragrance that the Father only could appreciate.

As Jesus spake these words, many believed on Him; but all must be divinely tested, so He says "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:30-32). In natural pride they boast that Abraham was their father, and that they were never in bondage to any, manifesting that they never had realised their bondage to sin. Only the Son could give them freedom from such a bondage, and bring them into true, divine liberty. They were naturally Abraham's seed, but in spiritual things nature has no place; indeed they are found here seeking to kill the Son of God. When natural pride finds no place for itself in what is divine it manifests its hatred in bitter opposition. Therefore Jesus refuses their claim as children of Abraham, they were not spiritually of his generation, for they did not do his works; nor were they the children of God, as they claimed, else would they have loved the Son of God, present among them. They stand before Him., convicted; having refused all that He set forth in testimony from the Father; they are manifested as having the devil for their father.

In the midst of this company Jesus stands alone in His perfections, the pure, spotless, undefiled, Son of the Father's love, none able to convince Him of sin. How very solemn the dishonour poured out upon the holy Son of God; how wonderful the grace that meets all in meekness and with truth, truth that sets Him forth in all the greatness of His Person, as only seeking the Father's glory, yet able to keep

His own from seeing and tasting death; the great I AM, Who existed before Abraham. Not content with rejecting His testimony, denying His personal relationship with the Father, and saying that He was a Samaritan and had a devil, they take up stones to cast at Him. Such is man: thoroughly exposed in the light of Christ's Person and testimony; the brighter the light, the richer the grace, the more the awful depths of man's moral depravity, spiritual wickedness, and hatred to all that is divine, are manifested.
R. Duncanson.


No robed Pharisee could stand
Before the Saviour's face:
Upon the soil His holy hand
Was writing words of grace.