Face to Face with God
If you’ve been studying along with me in the book of John you’ll know that although we aren’t moving very fast, we aren’t necessarily going verse by verse either. It would be easy to breeze past verse twenty because it seems unimportant. But let’s take a look at it so you can see what I mean.
John 8:20 says,
“These words Jesus spoke in the treasury, as He taught in the temple; and no one laid hands on Him, for His hour had not yet come.” (NKJV)
This verse seems pretty straight forward. Nothing theologically earth shaking here. As a matter of fact, we could do without the details in this verse altogether right? No big deal to just breeze past it. But as my Pastor is fond of saying, “there are no throw away verses in the Bible.” Ok, so let’s unpack this verse a little just to make sure we don’t miss something significant.
At first glance this verse seems oddly placed. Why is the author telling us here that Jesus taught in the treasury in the temple? Wouldn’t it have been more efficient to add that detail all the way back in verse two where he tells us that Jesus was again in the temple?
Jesus taught in the treasury. The treasury was next to the court of women which is where the woman taken in adultery would have been. Jesus seems to be communicating through His actions that women, not just men are important to God and should be taught His truth.
Take a look at the next part, “…and no one laid hands on Him, for His hour had not yet come.” What we have to deduce from the text would have been obvious to anyone who had witnessed the scene first hand. The Pharisees were seething with anger! They were so mad that they would have taken Jesus right there in the temple. The only thing that stopped them was “…His hour had not yet come.” It would have been premature in God’s timing. This verse isn’t misplaced, it actually demonstrates a progression in the story.
Let’ go on to John 8:21-22. It says,
21 Then Jesus said to them again, “I am going away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin. Where I go you cannot come.” 22 So the Jews said, “Will He kill Himself, because He says, ‘Where I go you cannot come’?”
In verse twenty one, Jesus reveals four things to them. First, He tells them that He is going away; second, they will seek Him; third, they will die in their sin; and fourth, they cannot follow Him. It’s interesting to me that of those four things, the one thing they focus on is that Jesus said He is going away. They didn’t even acknowledge the single most impactful truth Jesus told them. He declared they would die in their sin! Again they wanted Jesus to remain under the hot lights of their scrutiny. They wanted to twist His words. They wanted “I am going away…” to mean that He was talking about suicide.
Jesus doesn’t surrender control of the conversation to the Jews. He brings the discussion back around to the one thing He wants them to focus on.
John 8:23 says,
23 And He said to them, “You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” (NKJV)
Jesus clearly delineates between the Jews and Himself. He tells them the truth. They are from beneath. The world is their origin and their anchor. Their whole perspective is tainted by the world system. Jesus tells them that He is nothing like them. He is from above. His perspective, His anchor, is Heavenly. Jesus tells them that the only reason they will die in their sins, is because they do not believe in Him.
Maybe this is obvious to most of us, but the same reason people today die in their sin, is because they reject Jesus, just like the Jews of His day. Did you notice He didn’t bring up their behaviour? Jesus didn’t tell them, “you just don’t have it right doctrinally”. He didn’t say, “boy if you’d just do this or that, then you could go to Heaven!” Rather, being free from Sin (not dying in our sin) is a result of trusting in Christ and Christ alone.
I cannot image what it must have been like to be standing face to face in conversation with God incarnate. Imagine being full of pride, so blinded to the truth of one’s own sinful condition and totally unaware of His power to deliver. It’s hard to fathom they were so angry at God that they wanted to kill Him! Why? All because He insisted on telling them the truth. Jesus refused to follow their religious traditions!
Over and over and over again Jesus told the religious leaders of His day the truth. Their religion, their law, even Moses’ law was powerless to save them. It’s the same for us today. No matter how badly we want to justify our actions before God, no matter how righteous we think we are, we desperately need Jesus to save us. We must believe in Him.
Remember, Jesus said in John 8:24,
“Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” (NKJV)
Once we’ve place our trust in Jesus our salvation is secure. From a relationship standpoint, It is important that we continue to place our trust in Jesus. We need to believe what He tells us through His word, and to fashion our lives after that truth.
In John 8:25 the Jews posed an interesting question, “Then they said to Him, “Who are You?” (NKJV)
How would you answer that question?