Before all this started, if you would have told me I would write twelve devotional posts about John chapter eight, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. It has been quite an enriching experience for me. I can only hope that you have benefitted from them as well. It is not my goal to teach you something. I have a singular goal in mind every time I write. I wish to ignite in you a desire, that will develop into a passion for studying the Word of God. I want you to experience the joy of discovering God’s truth during your own personal study of His Holy book.
We are going to look at verse fifteen today, but as always, we want to look at a few verses connected to it in an effort to keep it in context. It might be helpful to think about it this way. Verses in the Bible are not stand alone units that you can put on a strip of paper and bake into a fortune cookie. They are more like individual components in a Chinese meal. You might dig a cashew out and eat it individually, but you will not enjoy the cook’s full intent unless you consume the cashews with the rest of the ingredients on the plate.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, it would be helpful if you read the whole chapter before we look at verse 15.
Here’s what John 8:15-18 says,
“15 You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. 16 And yet if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone, but I am with the Father who sent Me. 17 It is also written in your law that the testimony of two men is true. 18 I am One who bears witness of Myself, and the Father who sent Me bears witness of Me.” (NKJV)
I don’t want to ignore the rest of the verse, but what caught my attention was the phrase, “…I judge no one.” What did Jesus mean by that? Well, first let’s make sure we have a clear understanding of the word judge.
According to the “Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament)” the greek word Jesus used for judge in verse 15, is krino. Its range of meaning is decide, come to a conclusion, prefer, to judge one thing better than another, evaluate, judge based on correctness of something, hold a view, have an opinion, make legal decision, decide a legal question of right or wrong, condemn, judge as guilty, rule over people, govern.
Words have a range of possible meanings. It is important to remember that a word does not mean everything it could mean every time it is used. For example Jesus is not saying, “I evaluate noone.” Jesus is also not saying that He does not “come to a conclusion” on anything. Context helps us to determine which meaning in the range is the one intended by Jesus.
So let’s think about the context. In this chapter we have the scribes and Pharisees attempting to condemn the woman taken in adultery, and looking for something to accuse Jesus of as relating to the law of Moses. They were looking to condemn both people. Given the context, it seems reasonable to me that meaning of the word judge, is condemn or judge as guilty.
Looking at the word Jesus used for judgment in the next verse seems to strengthen that conclusion. Judgment in verse 16, is the Greek word krisis with a broad range of meaning, that includes “sentence of judgment” or “condemnation”. Based on our word study, and the context, we could understand what Jesus said by stating it as follows. When Jesus walked the earth, it was not His assignment to pass a sentence of judgment, or to condemn anyone.
What was His assignment? I think a complete answer to the question would require a more detailed study, but at least part of the answer can be found in John 10:10. Jesus is telling His audience why He came.
John 10:7-10 says,
“Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (NKJV)
Once again we see a sharp contrast between Jesus and the religious leaders who refused to believe in Him. They condemn people, but Jesus came that they may have life.
Jesus is not our judge, nor is He our prosecuting attorney.
Consider 1 John 2:1. It says,
“My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (NKJV)
Jesus is an advocate (mediator) for believers before God the Father, who is the righteous judge.
We are all guilty, condemned by our own sin. We are deserving of death, hell and the grave. But Jesus is our advocate unto eternal life if we place our trust in Him. Once we’ve placed our faith in Jesus Christ for salvation we are saved. Beyond salvation is relationship. It is important that we continue in right relationship with Christ Jesus. He continues to be our mediator and intercessor before God the Father.