Letters to the Prison - Week 78

Hello, everyone.  Last week Jesus began to say something shocking in John 8:14-18.  
The short version is this:  Jesus claimed that He was sent by God from heaven and that His judgement is true because it is God’s judgement.  Further, the truth of this claim is attested by God himself, according to Jesus.  And, He accuses the Pharisees –arguably the most religious group of men in all of Jerusalem-- of not knowing God.  He says this because they don’t recognize Him as God.  When they ask Jesus where His father is in verse 19, Jesus responds by saying “you know neither me nor my Father.  If you knew me, you would know my Father also.”  When the Pharisees ask where Jesus’ father is, they are looking for a human, biological father.  They don’t recognize that God is Jesus’ Father, and that God and Jesus are one.
Jesus explains to the Pharisees that their problem is that they judge “according to the flesh.”  They only see Jesus as a man from Nazareth of Galilee – a man who, by most human standards, appears to be crazy.  Picture someone in our day claiming to be God… sent from heaven… and then, when people are skeptical, that person accuses them of having poor judgement… of being blind.  How would we respond to such a person?  Would we believe him?  Would we follow him?  Would we worship him?  Or would we try to have him arrested like the Pharisees do (John 8:20)?
What if he told us that he’s leaving…  going someplace where we can’t go –back to heaven… and that if we don’t believe in him, we would die in our sin?  How would we respond to that?  Jesus says this very thing to the Pharisees (John 8:21 and again in 8:24).  And the Jews respond:
•“Will he kill himself, since he says, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?”  -John 8:22
They presumed that the only way Jesus could go where they cannot follow is if he killed himself.  Suicide in that culture merited an eternity in the darkest corner of hell.  Ironically, Jesus did indeed forfeit his life… he died willingly on the cross for the sins of the world (Matthew 26:53-55)…and he did indeed spend three days in the grave preaching the good news of the Gospel to those who were already dead (1 Peter 4:6)…  those who were already in the darkest corner of hell… and he rose again from that grave to prove that he does indeed have the power and authority to judge the living and the dead (Acts 10:42)…  and he did all this so that we today could have supreme confidence in this:
Everything Jesus says is true because Jesus is who He says He is.  
So, when Jesus says, “unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins” (John 8:24), how do we respond?
The true and terrible irony is this:  Those who refuse to believe that Jesus is God are the ones who are forfeiting their lives eternally.  Jesus has given us every reason to believe that He indeed is who He says He is… and if we refuse to believe, we are effectively committing spiritual suicide.
No other question in life is so important… and with so much at stake:  Is Jesus who He says He is?  What is your answer?  We pray that you’ve answered yes.  We love you.

Dean A.

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