The Truth Hurts
Hope in Christ Bible Church 10/9/16
Well it’s a privilege for us to worship God together in spirit of joy but also in truth.
For our God is a God of truth.
And Jesus is the truth.
And He alone can set us free from lies.
I read a statement this week that struck a chord in my heart:
“The only people who are mad at you for speaking the truth are those people who are living a lie. Keep speaking the truth.”
It’s all too clear, we live in a world filled with lies. Lies that come from the mouths of liars.
It was no different in Christ’s day.
Yet who were those whose mouths spoke the most dangerous lies?
It wasn’t the uneducated. It wasn’t the insurrectionists, and it wasn’t the criminals. It was the religious people namely the scribes and Pharisees.
In John 8, Christ has been assaulted by the Judaistic leaders over and over. In fact there are a total of10 attacks in this chapter alone.
It started way back in chapter 2 when Christ walked in that defiled temple. It was the same temple in which he now stands at the Feast of Tabernacles.
It’s not defiled by the hypocritical sacrifices but by these phony spiritual leaders.
Now the hatred for Christ has been cranked up to a feverish pitch. Yes, Christ, the truth incarnate has become the target of persecution… by these religious leaders.
If you haven’t noticed, that’s the way it is in our day. Most of the persecution against Christians is by religious groups. What’s the threat? It’s the truth of Christ.
This last February, just a couple miles down Greenfield, two men waiting at a bus stop were overheard talking about Jesus.
A 39-year-old Muslim man, Terrence Thomas, asked them what religion they were.
When they replied they were not Muslim, Thomas pulls out his 3-inch folding knife and repeatedly stabs one of them in the neck, back and face. Then he knifes the other man’s hand.
Friends, there is an ever growing assault against the truth of Christianity. And the greatest attack comes from followers of false religions.
For false religionists hate and are threatened by the truth.
That’s the way it was for Christ.
The main opposition came not from the general public but from the religious establishment.
Christ told them the truth, and they hate it. Why? Because truth sounds like hate to those who hate the truth.
So look with me at how Christ so patiently pours on the truth, though it hurt, for their benefit and for ours.
John 8:48–59 The Jews answered and said to Him, “Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?” 49 Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me. 50 “But I do not seek My glory; there is One who seeks and judges. 51 “Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he will never see death.” 52 The Jews said to Him, “Now we know that You have a demon. Abraham died, and the prophets also; and You say, ‘If anyone keeps My word, he will never taste of death.’ 53 “Surely You are not greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets died too; whom do You make Yourself out to be?” 54 Jesus answered, “If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God’; 55 and you have not come to know Him, but I know Him; and if I say that I do not know Him, I will be a liar like you, but I do know Him and keep His word. 56 “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” 57 So the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.” 59 Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple.
The conflict that Christ faces with these religious leaders continues to escalate.
Why doesn’t Jesus just agree to disagree with these deceivers who are self-deceived?
Because leaving people in their lies is damning. People die eternally because of not hearing and knowing and receiving the truth.
That’s why Christ speaks the truth to expose lies. He shines light into their darkness. And they hate it.
Now before we zoom in on the response in verse 48 of these religionists, remember what Christ had just told them. This explains their deep-seated hatred for the truth:
John 8:44 “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
Christ diagnoses the heart issue of lying and murderous hatred as being from who? Satan!
In no uncertain terms, Christ unmasks their spiritual condition- they are children of the devil.
Now, they could have asked Christ to rescue them from their awful predicament of sin.
They could have plead with Him for mercy as did the tax collector of Luke 18. But they come out fighting .
Would you look at the attack they make in verse 48?
- Attack and Appeal 48-52
The Jews answered and said to Him, “Do we not say rightly (lit. beautifully) that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?”
What brash sarcasm. What bald-faced pride! Now, there is a double-charge here.
First, they justify themselves in calling Jesus a Samaritan. The form of the verb shows that they went around calling Christ a Samaritan.
Why do they use that term “Samaritan?”
It’s because they can’t think anything meaner to say!
Do they really think Jesus was a Samaritan? No. Samaritans typically dressed differently than the Jews. And they were ostracized from Jews as half-breeds.
They are using the slur “Samaritan” because they view “Jesus as acting like one of those Samaritan idolaters, traitors, and rejecters of the Jerusalem temple. No doubt about it, Samaritans were viewed as the dregs in society.
Second attack, they accuse Christ of being possessed by a demon.
This was nothing new. At the beginning of Christ’s ministry, 2 ½ years before, the Pharisees said, “He casts out demons by the ruler of the demons.” Mat. 9:36
And the Jewish scribes from Jerusalem said of Him, “He is possessed by Beelzebul.” Mat. 12:24 That’s another name for Satan.
Remember at the beginning of this week-long Feast of Booths, John 7:20 reports that some in the multitude told Christ, “You have a demon.”
And now we see it’s the spiritual leaders who keep repeating that accusation.
Imagine that. The are saying Jesus the Son of the God is controlled by Satan and his demons.
It just doesn’t get more satanic than that- seeing all that Jesus is and does and concluding it’s from the devil’s power.
Listen, Christ had every right to strike dead those phonies right on the spot.
And He has the right to take the life of any who mock Him and blaspheme His name.
Yet take note of how our Lord appeals to His enemies.
First, He says nothing about the Samaritans. Why? Because in His all-wise and loving heart, He shows no condescending attitude toward the Samaritans.
Secondly, Christ responds to His accusers calmly. He doesn’t have a bone of vindictiveness in His body.
Here we see Christ’s divine dignity shine in His dealing with those who hate Him.
Christ graciously treats His enemies here as He will in 6 months when tried to be crucified.
The apostle Peter, in his first epistle (2:23) recounts of Christ “And while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously.”
Christ in His gracious response shows them His claims and actions were not of a demon-possessed man.
For demon-possessed people don’t honor God! But Christ honored His Father.
We saw the beautiful statement He told them in verse 29, “
“I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.”
Christ always honored His Father. Those Pharisees and scribes did not.
How can you tell if a person truly honors God or not?
How can we know that Jesus honored God?
Christ , in verse 50 tells us:
“But I do not seek My glory.”
Here Christ explains the purpose of His earthly mission. It wasn’t’ to bring glory to Himself, it wasn’t to draw a following for Himself..
Now we need to grasp this. Because it’s at this point so many cults miss the truth of Scripture.
The goal of Christ’s incarnation, His coming to earth, wasn’t to show His own glory but God’s.
That’s why He came as the suffering servant, who would lead men to God.
That’s the reason Jesus did not seek to justify Himself (cf. John 8:54). He committed His case to the heavenly Judge, His Father.
Christ speaks of Him again in verse 50 as the “One who seeks and judges.
Our Lord was convinced that even if others judged Him falsely, the Father would reverse their verdict and vindicate Him.
That is the confidence that we can seek our teeth into.
When we live abandoned to God’s honor,
When we pursue His glory not ours, we can get beyond being so concerned what people think of us. And we can have peace even when unbelievers may be out to get us.
We leave with peace and freedom in the soul knowing God who sees all will make right all wrongs, judge the wicked and reward the righteous.
We can be certain God’s word to Samuel still stand: “For those who honor Me, I will honor.” I Sam. 2:30
What an encouragement this is regardless of the opposition that may face us for the name of Christ.
Christian, live all out for God’s honor, take the shots that may come from detractors, and leave the outcome to Him.
Christ enemies attack yet he extends a great appeal. Their attack is followed by Christ’s gracious appeal.
Verse 51: “Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he will never see death.”
What a gracious, undeserved invitation.
Notice, Christ says it is to everyone. It tells us, “If anyone…”
That means the offer goes out to all without distinction.
It’s good for the taking for Jews and Gentiles, for men and women, for boys and girls. And it includes people of every ethnicity, of every language and from every location without discrimination.
What though is the great offer that Christ makes here to all?
It’s the great hope of never seeing death!
Someone once quipped, “I’m not afraid of death. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”
Yet there is nothing humorous about death.
Death is the tragic fate of you and me. It’s not just others who will one day die. It’s you and me who will also die.
Yet our Lord here isn’t speaking of mere physical death where the soul parts from the body.
He’s talking about spiritual death. That’s the second death of Revelation 20 and 21when a soul is eternally separated from God.
Imagine the destiny of all those on the wide road of their own good works that wake up at their destination- they are under God’s wrath in a place of torment, hell, originally prepared for the devil and his demons.
There is no Purgatory. There is no way to beg or work your way out. The horrors of hell are irreversible and eternal.
So Christ here offers these, His worst enemies and all who heed His Word, a way to avoid eternal death.
How do avoid hell? Christ says, “If anyone keeps My word, he will never see death.”
This is the “continuing” in Christ’s Word we saw in verse 31 that shows one truly follows Christ.
Listen, to keep Christ’s Word means you accept what He says by faith, and you walk in obedience to it.
I know some of you have had questions as to how much a person much continue in God’s Word to truly be a child of God.
Should we expect that a person who truly knows Christ will be in the Word regularly if not daily? If a person has no significant desire for God’s Word, does that bring into question if he or she really knows God?
Look with me to John 14:23 where Christ gives us helpful clarification on this.
Jesus says, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.”
Here we see that keeping God’s Word that Christ has in mind has 2 characteristics.
First, it’s heart-centered. In the true child of God, there’s the desire, the longing to know and do Christ’s will.
Christ says, “If anyone loves Me (that’s the prerequisite and condition) he will keep My word.”
There is an appetite for the truth of God’s Word. It’s the newborn babe’s characteristic longing for milk.. that’s the way a healthy Christian craves God’s Word.
The second H, keeping God’s Word is habitual. It’s the pattern of one’s life. A growing Christian doesn’t read God’s Word often to be saved. He loves to read God’s Word often because He is saved!
Now I want you each of us to really take to heart the promise Christ makes here in verse 51.
For the child of God who walks in obedience to Christ’s Words, here’s your guarantee.
You will never face the literal fires of hell and hear the gnashing of teeth from others whose destiny is hell.
In fact , it’s so certain that Christ uses a double negative to show you will by no means see that kind of spiritual death.
You will be like those whom Christ describes in Luke 20:36 who “cannot even die anymore, because they are like angels, and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.”
Instead you will know the joy, and fellowship and wonder of life in the presence of Christ forever!
Here’s the wonder of it all. The believer, at the moment Christ takes up residence in his life, he is united with Christ. And every day in this world and into eternity, he sees life and never spiritual death. That is hope in Christ!
The flipside of the promise also stands. If your life is not marked by loving and living according to God’s Word, you better return to the cross, beg God to save you, give you Christ and all new desires, and spare your soul.
And He will! Don’t dare put off, don’t dare minimize the urgency of Christ’s appeal to you. For that it what those Jews in the temple did.
- Abraham and Anticipation 53-57
Look at their question which is no doubt laced with sarcasm.
Verse 53: “Surely You are not greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets died too; whom do You make Yourself out to be?”
Listen. These guys are crass literalists.
They don’t have the capacity to think spiritually.
For their hearts are hardening by the minute as they reject the truth of Christ.
They are suffering from what we might call spiritual arterial sclerosis.
Hardening of the spiritual arteries.
They progressively blocked the life flowing truth of Christ so that it could not enter their dead hearts.
Here they are trying to back Christ into a corner. They are trying to trap Him.
Yet as the apostle John records these words, he shows us the irony of it all.
To their question, “Surely You are not greater than our father Abraham, who died ?” they expect a negative answer.
“Of course not” they think.. No one is greater than our great father Abraham!”
And the point they are making is this.
“All of these patriarchs, even the greatest, all of them died.
So Jesus, who do you think you are?”
It’s similar to the woman at the well who didn’t grasp who Jesus was and asked, “You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You?” John 4:12
Yet as we as readers have watched all that Christ has said and done as presented by John. He speaks like no man had ever spoken, performs miracles, transforms lives.
Then we can’t help but see Jesus’ superiority over all predecessors.
And that includes Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Elijah, and John the Baptist.
But those adversaries of Christ couldn’t get their blinded mines around that.
They show their spiritual ignorance when they ask Him, “Whom do You make Yourself out to be?”
In other words, “Who do you think you are saying You can keep people from ever dying?”
Watch now. What sets Jesus apart from all the rest is not simply a difference of degree. It is a qualitative difference. For Jesus is God in a body!
And that’s exactly why Christ tells them, verse 54 “If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God?”
The Pharisees did all their deeds to be noticed by men.” Mat. 23:5. They paraded their works to get people to honor them.
But why didn’t Christ didn’t do that? Here’s why? God the Father glorified Christ.
Yes, in Christ’s incarnation, the Father was actively seeking the glory of the Son.
At our Savior’s baptism, God spoke audibly from heaven saying,
“This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” Mat. 3:17
And the voice of the Father came again on the mount of transfiguration bringing glory to Christ as His beloved Son.
Yet the greatest demonstration of God glorifying the Son would come when He would raise Christ from the grave, and then seat Him at the place of honor at His right hand.
Then that great prophecy of Psalm 110 was fulfilled where the Lord says to His Lord (God the Father) “Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.”
That friends is Christ’s honored position now.
But there’s still more.
The apostle Paul exclaims in Philippians 2:9-11 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
That’s the ultimate exaltation of Christ.
And that exposes the sham of those Pharisees who lived for their glory and claimed exclusive rights to God as “Our God.”
You see, they are so wrong. Dead wrong!
And Jesus loves them enough to tell them so. Verse 55: “And you have not come to know Him, but I know Him; and if I say that I do not know Him, I will be a liar like you, but I do know Him and keep His word.
Now I love of what Christ tells them about Himself. Right there in verse 56.
He continues talking about Abraham since they loved to talk about Him (in fact there are 11 references to Abraham in verses 38-58, and then we don’t find Abraham ever mentioned elsewhere in John.
“Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.”
This is fantastic! Christ speaks of Abraham as their physical father.
And he’s saying Abraham was overjoyed, extremely happy, leaping as it were for joy to see something: Christ’s day!
Now the question is, what was Christ’s day?
Some see this as Abraham in Paradise viewing the day Christ was born.
Yet that would be 2,000 years after the time he lived. It puts an unnatural separation between His rejoicing and seeing that day.
Notice carefully in verse 56:
“For Christ says, Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.”
So how did Christ then see Christ’s day during his own lifetime? Some commentators think God gave Abraham some vision about this that’s not recorded in Scripture.
Yet, if we put together key texts of Genesis, it becomes clear. I want to highlight these for you.
The first is in Genesis 12:1-3. When he was still called Abram, God tells him:
“Leave your country… [and] your relatives 2 And I will make you a great nation…. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”
Abraham had to have been thinking? I have no children, how will this ever happen?
Then in Gen. 15:4-6 God informs Abraham that Isaac would not be his heir, but one who he would give through Sarah.
And he tells him through that son would be uncountable like the stars in the night sky.
Move forward to Genesis 17:17
God confirms He would give Abraham a son through Sarah. He tells him, “kings of peoples will come from her.”
How does Abraham respond? 17 Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, “Will a child be born to a man one hundred years old? And will Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?”
BTW, an Aramaic Targum (explanations of O.T. texts by Rabbis) of Gen. 17:17 renders the Hebrew word “laughed” as rejoiced!
God then makes a personal appearance to Abraham in Genesis 18.
That was a theophany- the manifestation of Christ in preincarnate form.
And the Lord tells him, “This time next year your wife will have a son.
Put all those statements together, and here’s what you get- Abraham knew the hope God would bring to the world of blessing would come through his son Isaac.
And he knew that it would ultimately culminate in Christ.
But there’s one more text that cements that for us.
In Genesis 22:7, as Isaac goes with his father Abraham to Mt. Mo*riah, he says,
“My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” And [Isaac] said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
That friends is the ultimate question of every Jew since the time of Adam. All these sacrifices, but where it the Lamb?
Abraham’s answer tells it all, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.”
And God did that. Not just through the ram there as a substitute. But through the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, who takes away the sin of the world.
That’s what overwhelmed Abraham with joy. He saw the promised Christ through the eyes of faith as coming through Isaac. He saw and welcomed the coming Christ from a distance.
Just listen to the overtones that point to Christ in the statement Hebrews makes about Abraham. In Hebrews 11:17-19 he tells us the foundation of his joyous hope.
By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; 18 it was he to whom it was said, “In Isaac your descendants shall be called.” 19 He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type.
A type or emblem of what? A type of Christ, the coming Messiah!
How powerful. God showed Abraham through Isaac to the promised seed, the Messiah. That’s how He saw Christ!
Don’t forget, when Abraham saw Christ, what happened? He rejoiced!!!
Church, when everything in your life seems to hit the fan, when dark clouds of discouragement threaten, how do you win the fight for joy?
Look to Christ like Abraham did through faith. And God will flood your life with fullness of joy that flows from Christ.
So fix your eyes on Jesus and all that He is and that will put gladness into your heart.
Well, you can be sure the Jews at this point in the conversation are peeved.
Not because Abraham might have seen the Messiah. But because Christ says, “He saw My day.”
So they scornfully tell Jesus, John 8:57 “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?”
They miss the point that Christ said Abraham saw His day and not vice versa.
Now what are we to make of them saying that Christ wasn’t fifty years old yet?
Luke 3:23 tells us Jesus was “about 30 years old when He began His ministry.
So if the present dialogue took place in the fall of 32 A.D. that would mean Jesus would be about 35 years old. Not close to 50.
What 50 stood for in the Jewish mind was the completion of manhood.
If you look at Numbers 4 and 8 you will see that workers in the tabernacle could be from the age of 30-50. I hate to break this new to you older men- in the Jewish mindset, you are getting old, and at retirement age at the age of 50!
So they are telling Christ, you are not even an old man yet, and you claim to have seen Abraham? They rejected Christ’s words about Abraham’s anticipation.
And that brings us to 3. Avowal and Assault 58-59
Jesus says to them, verse 58 “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.”
Here Christ avows, publicly claims His preexistence. But watch now. He is claiming far more than that.
For if he could have said, “Before Abraham was born, I was.” That would mean He existed before the time of Abraham.
But “I am” (ego eimi) is a title for God (Ex 3:14), which shows Jesus is claiming eternal existence. He is saying, “I am the one whose goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity (Micah 5:2).
In no uncertain terms He is saying, “I am God!” He is claiming deity.
Now I have had conversations with cultists who say at this point, “O no, Jesus never claimed to be God.”
Well, how did the Jews to whom Christ was speaking take these words?
We are told (v. 59) “Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple. “
Josephus the Jewish historian of that time tells us there was rubble in the outer temple area from repairs being done.
So they grab stones to murder Christ. For they know He is claiming to be God.
They think Jesus is committing blasphemy, and so they follow Leviticus 24:16 which prescribed stoning for such a man.
But what is their problem? They would not humble their hearts to see, that Christ was no imposter but the God of very God.
Yet they could not hurl those stones and kill Christ. Why not?
It wasn’t just that Christ was so fast and elusive. For they had him outnumbered.
It was because it wasn’t the divine time for Christ to die. And Christ could not have died by stoning. Psalm 22 and other passages prophesied that Christ would have to die by crucifixion. And it would be at the hands of these very Jews..
Yes, the truth of Christ hurts. Yet for those who respond in repentant faith, that truth becomes the wellspring of life forever.
So I ask you, is your life submitted at every point to the truth of Christ.
Have you turned from sin, trusted His work on the cross?
And if you have, are you walking in obedience to Christ? And are you as Abraham rejoicing in Christ are your greatest treasure of all?
Let’s look to the Lord in prayer…
The Truth Hurts
Hope in Christ Bible Church 10/9/16
- Attack and Appeal 48-52
- Abraham and Anticipation 53-57
- Avowal and Assault 58-59
How would the Lord direct me to walk in His Word and know His blessing?