John 8:48-59 – The Father’s Glory and Abraham’s Jesus

We finally reach the end of Jesus’ conversation with the Jews in chapter 8.
• In our previous lesson, Jesus explained how the Jews, by rejecting Him, rejected the Father.
• He also revealed to us yet another reason for unbelief, which was that they could not hear the “words of God” (John 8:47) because they were “not of God” (John 8:47).
• Jesus also accused the Jews who rejected Him as doing the will of their real spiritual father, the devil.

Jesus’ reasoning for this startling judgment seemed to go as follows:
• If one believes in Jesus and His testimony about Himself then one is in agreement with God the Father (and Abraham for that matter).
• On the other hand, unbelief, as we know, is rebellion against the claims of Jesus and the Father; a rebellion against the truth.
• And so whatever is done in rebellion to God, done in unbelief, is a rejection of the truth and an embracing of a lie.
• So this life glorifies the devil the “father of lies” (vs. 44) who has “no truth in him” (vs. 44) whether or not this glorification is implicit or explicit.

As we finish up John 8, we come to restatements of truths that Jesus has already revealed earlier in John 8.
• However, there are a couple of interesting comments He makes that we will explore a little deeper.
    o Jesus’ talk about His glory
    o Jesus’ suggestion that Abraham knew Him

John 8:48–59 (ESV) — 48 The Jews answered him, “Are we not right in saying 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 Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge. 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, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.’ 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who 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 But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. 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, I am.” 59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.

1) JESUS – THE GLORY IS NOT HIS

John 8:48–51 (ESV) — 48 The Jews answered him, “Are we not right in saying 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 Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge. 51 Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.”

In response to Jesus’ accusation that their spiritual father is the devil and that they are unable to hear the word of God, they respond, not to the merits of Jesus’ words but by attacking him.
• They have already insinuated that He was an illegitimate child, conceived out of wedlock (vs. 41).
• Now they proceed to call him:
    o Demon Possessed
    o A Samaritan

Why?
Nobody knows for sure, but the smart guys suggest the following:
• “It may simply be that Jesus’ accusers thought that for a Jew to question the paternity of other Jews was so despicable that only demon-possession could explain it” – D.A. Carson.
• Kostenberger suggests that, in the battle of paternity that has just ensued – God the Father/Abraham vs. the devil – that the Jews want to slander His paternity and so suggest that he was “birthed by a Samaritan!
• John MacArthur thinks that, “the reference to Jesus as a “Samaritan” probably centers in the fact that the Samaritans, like Jesus, questioned the Jews’ exclusive right to be called Abraham’s children (vs. 33; vs. 39).

Whatever the reason, their intent was certainly to imply that Jesus’ was the one doing the will of the devil and he wasn’t even a pure Jew.
• Jesus, of course, rejects this and simply states that He seeks to honor the Father.
• Jesus’ every word, every work and every action is about honoring the Father.
• The implication, of course, is that they can’t honor the Father because they dishonor Jesus and His Father-ordained ministry.

This point is exactly the one we discussed last week we when covered at least (9) ways that unbelievers suppress the truth in their thinking and “willing” (heart).
• The result of this incorrect thinking and “willing” is the dishonoring of God Jesus speaks of today.
• Romans 1:21 (ESV) — 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Jesus goes on to remind them of the stakes of “hearing” the word of God that he speaks – eternal life!
• James Boice suggests that this “hearing” (a work of God) encompasses both a “believing” and an “obeying”.
• “Indeed, no one can actually believe the truth about [Jesus] without trusting him by intending to obey him. It is a mental impossibility. To think otherwise is to indulge a widespread illusion that now smothers spiritual formation in Christlikeness among professing Christians and prevents it from naturally spreading worldwide” – Dallas Willard.


Jesus and His Glory:
As mentioned earlier, one of the things I want to explore more is the notion about Jesus not seeking His own glory.
We have seen throughout Jesus’ conversation with the Jews, very bold claims by Jesus about Himself and His relationship with the Father.
• John 8:18–19 (ESV) — 18 I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.” 19 They said to him therefore, “Where is your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.”
• John 8:23–24 (ESV) — 23 He said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.”
• John 8:38 (ESV) — 38 I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.”
• John 8:40 (ESV) — 40 but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did.
• John 8:42 (ESV) — 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me.

And yet, in spite of making all these bold claims, Jesus says, “Yet I do not seek my own glory”.
How is this possible and what can we learn from this?

First, we need to see what it is that Jesus is not seeking.
Glory in our text means, “honor as enhancement or recognition of status or performance, fame, recognition, renown, honor, prestige” – BDAG.
• So knowing this, here is what this text is telling us.
• In spite of His identity, the incredible relationship He shared with the Father, and the powerful words of truth and life He possessed, Jesus never saw any of this as a reason to elevate Himself in a worldly way.
• As we have seen, His “renown” and “prestige” came when He was “lifted up” on the cross.
• And on the cross this “renown” and “prestige” came in the form of nakedness, injury, pain, humility!
• The cross vindicated not only His ministry generally, but even His claim of not seeking His own glory.


Jesus’ Example – Our Problem:
Now here is the real problem with this example of Jesus.
• He set it for us to follow.

Paul puts it like this:
• Colossians 3:1–10 (ESV) — 1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

Unfortunately, to follow Jesus’ example and not seek our own glory, is completely at odds with our natural, fallen, intuitions.
• “You need no help from supernatural sources to engage in fornication…indulgences in passions and desires for what is evil, or greed to possess what belongs to others. Just follow the inclinations now built into your bodily existence and they will all just happen” – Dallas Willard.
• Humanity’s “time and energy is almost wholly, if not entirely, devoted to how their body looks, smells, and feels, and to how it can be secured and used to meet ego needs such as admiration, sexual gratification, and power over others” – Dallas Willard.
• In other words, we seek our own glory and it is the natural, fallen thing to do.

But as Jesus demonstrated, and as Paul taught, believers can combat these natural, fallen inclinations.
• “seek the things that are above
• “set you minds on things that are above
• “put to death therefore what is earthly in you
• “put on the new self…renewed in knowledge…of its creator

And praise God that Scripture tells us that this combat is funded and directed by the very glory of the Father that Jesus was trying to point the Jews to.
• Romans 6:4-6 (ESV) — 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.


2) JESUS – ABRAHAM’S PROMISED OFFSPRING

John 8:52–59 (ESV) — 52 The Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.’ 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who 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 But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. 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, I am.” 59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.


What is going on here?
It appears the Jews were saying:
• Abraham and the prophets certainly received and then “kept” God’s word.
• However, they died.
• So their “keeping” what everyone knows is God’s word did not keep them from death.
• So you, Jesus, have lost your demon-possessed, Samaritan mind.
• Do you seriously think you are somehow “greater than our father Abraham, who died (vs. 53)?”
There is no way your words are better than the words received by Abraham and the prophets.
• And yet you say those who keep your words shall not die!

Typically, the Jews miss Jesus’ point entirely, further evidence they “do not hear” (vs. 47) the words of God.
• Jesus is obviously speaking of spiritual death and life.
• Jesus then, again, articulates the unique nature of his relationship with the Father that does in fact make Him “greater than our father Abraham” both in identity and quality.
    o (1) The Father glorifies Jesus (vs. 54)
    o (2) Jesus knows the Father (vs. 55)
    o (3) Jesus keeps the Father’s word (vs. 55)

The first (3) reasons are significant, but then Jesus drops two more J-Bomb’s that seal the deal:
• (4) Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad. (vs. 56)
• (5) Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am. (vs. 58)

The fifth we discussed in our lesson on John 8:21-29 – All Will Know.
So what on earth does the fourth mean?
• Whatever it means, it was the ultimate setup for His “I Am” (vs. 59) proclamation.

Nobody really knows for sure what the 4th means, but the smart people speculate as follows:
• Genesis 15:17-21 was traditionally seen by Jewish teachers as the time when God “revealed to Abraham the mysteries of the coming [messianic] age” – Kostenberger.
• So, “to say that Abraham saw the Messiah was neither new nor offensive to Jewish teachers; it was its application to Jesus that was unbelievable” – Kostenberger.
• Jesus was teaching, incredibly, that “the ultimate fulfillment of all Abraham’s hopes and joys” culminate in the “person and work” of Jesus – D.A. Carson.
• What this meant for Jesus’ Jewish audience was “since Jesus fulfills what is written of and announced in the OT, for [them] to be true children of Abraham would have meant for them to share in his attitude of joyful expectation” of the coming Messiah, the promised offspring, Jesus – Kostenberger.

So when Jesus says “I Am” and “Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day” He is identifying Himself not only as the Sovereign Creator Yahweh but also as the eschatological fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham.
Not the least of which is Abraham’s promised offspring.
• Galatians 3:15–16 (ESV) — 15 To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. 16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ.

And Scripture agrees with John’s revelation of Jesus concerning Abraham’s knowledge of Him.
• Galatians 3:7–9 (ESV) — 7 Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
• Hebrews 11:13 (ESV) — 13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.
• 1 Peter 1:10–12 (ESV) — 10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

Is it any wonder, then, that the Jews responded to Jesus’ word with death threats.
• To those who cannot “hear” Jesus’ words, His words come off as blasphemous (as in our text), intolerant, crazy, idiotic, deluded, or even better, not even Jesus’ words but John’s fabrication.


Lessons for Us:
So was Jesus’ discussion with the Jews in John 8 a success?
Is it our job to make Jesus’ words not appear to be blasphemous, intolerant, crazy, idiotic or deluded?
Does our motivation to do so find its impetus in our need bring “glory” to ourselves or to the truth of God’s words?