Which would you choose?
In our walk through John chapter eight we come to verse twenty six. After ignoring everything Jesus has been saying about Himself, the Pharisees asked Him, “who are you?” Jesus responds by saying, “I’ve been telling you all along [my paraphrase] who I am.”
Let’s consider the next verse.
John 8:26 says,
“I have many things to say and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I heard from Him.” (NKJV)
I think when we read we naturally observe the main point, whether we’ve been lead by the author or by our own instincts. This is a good thing because the main point is the most important to us. If we miss the details however, we run the risk of misunderstanding what the author is attempting to communicate to us. We will miss the message of the passage.
Let’s step through some observations together and see what we can learn. First, we notice the verse begins with the pronoun “I”, which occurs a total of three times in the verse. We only have to back up one verse to identity the pronoun’s antecedent. Verse 25 makes it clear to us that Jesus is who the pronoun “I” is referring to the three times it occurs in verse 26. We’ve established that Jesus is the one speaking. So what does He tell us?
Jesus tells us He has:
1) Many things to say and
2) to judge concerning you (Pharisees).
Next, we run into the conjunction “But”. To tell you the truth I struggled over this simple word that indicates contrast. Why is it here? Should it be? I compared six diverse translations and in every one the word shows up in the exact same location in the text. Using Logos Bible software I looked to see if the word actually appears in the Greek manuscript – it does. Jesus says “but He who sent Me is true;” Is Jesus contrasting the first thing He said with this statement?
Is it really Appropriate to contrast that “Jesus has many things to say and judge” with “but He [God] is true”?
It may be helpful to format the passage a little using indentation. I will leave the text as the New King James version translates it, I’ll just apply different formatting. Here’s John 8:26(NKJV) again.
I have many things
He who sent Me
I speak to the world
those things which
I heard from Him.
At first it seemed Jesus was contrasting the Pharisees imperfections with God’s trueness. Taking note of the placement and use of the conjunctions clarifies what Jesus was saying. What He is contrasting is Jesus has things He would tell the Pharisees about themselves, but He has chosen instead to tell the world the things God has told Jesus to say.
In other words, Jesus is faced with a choice between two different messages He could deliver.
- Jesus message to thePharisees.
- God’s message to the world.
Jesus clearly chose to submit His will to His Father (God).
As not only believers in Jesus Christ, but as His disciples, what message do we chose to deliver when faced with the choice? Will we judge others, identify their failings, and instruct them on any corrective actions we’ve identified? Or do we instead chose to deliver the message God wants the world to know? This verse tells us that Jesus chose to deliver God’s message to the world, shouldn’t we choose the same?