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HG099 John 8:21-59

Harmony of the Gospels  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  19:59
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John 8:21–59 NKJV
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’?” 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.” 25 Then they said to Him, “Who are You?” And Jesus said to them, “Just what I have been saying to you from the beginning. 26 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.” 27 They did not understand that He spoke to them of the Father. 28 Then Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things. 29 And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.” 30 As He spoke these words, many believed in Him. 31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” 33 They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?” 34 Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. 35 And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. 36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. 37 “I know that you are Abraham’s descendants, but you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. 38 I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have seen with your father.” 39 They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham. 40 But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. 41 You do the deeds of your father.” Then they said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father—God.” 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. 43 Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. 46 Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? 47 He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God.” 48 Then 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 And I do not seek My own glory; there is One who seeks and judges. 51 Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.” 52 Then the Jews said to Him, “Now we know that You have a demon! Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and You say, ‘If anyone keeps My word he shall never taste death.’ 53 Are You greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? And the prophets are dead. Who do You make Yourself out to be?” 54 Jesus answered, “If I honor Myself, My honor is nothing. It is My Father who honors Me, of whom you say that He is your God. 55 Yet you have not known Him, but I know Him. And if I say, ‘I do not know Him,’ I shall 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 Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” 59 Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.
In today’s passage we find ourselves with a series of contrasting statements:
I am going you cannot come
I am from above you are from below
I am not of this world, you are of the world
I am without sin, you will die in sin
I am of God the Father you are of your god, the devil
All of these are points of separation between Him and His hearers. And they are not possible to overcome until they recognise Him for who He is and yet...
We can start to hear the frustration of Jesus when they again ask: Who are you? in verse 25. And Jesus response was, in the Greek, why am I speaking to you. Why am I even trying? I have told you and told you but you just will not hear nor listen.
You will die in your sin. This singular use of the word sin is none other than the sin of unbelief which encompasses all their other sin. The root of everything else they do stems from the very fact they have not put their faith in the One from above. Jesus time and time again makes it clear that He is the I AM, the eternal One who was and is and is to come. There was no mistaking what He said as at the end we find that they want to stone Him from blasphemy.
We started with Pharisees trying to get Jesus to throw stones or suggest that this happens at the woman caught in adultery to break Roman law then they themselves wanted to commit murder and break the law themselves by killing Jesus by taking up those very same stones. The stark hypocrisy is for all to see. Darkness had filled their hearts and they refused the Light of the World.
This is the same gospel that starts out by saying:
John 1:5 NKJV
5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
Never was a truer saying than the people with whom Jesus is speaking. The contrast and difference and separation is clear. It is no wonder that Kirkegaard separated from his fiancee by saying “I cannot marry you. You are an eternity too young.”. You see, Kirkegaard was a citizen of Heaven, his bride to be only a citizen of earth. He was of above, she of below. As Christians we have been
Ephesians 2:6 NKJV
6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
We read in our readings recently:
2 Corinthians 6:14–15 NKJV
14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?
There were there some who believed, though to what extent does not seem yet to salvation for they not yet truly put their trust in Him nor understood their need of salvation. So, to the Pharisees He said that you will know that I AM when you lift up the Son of Man. We know that this is the cross. The cross is the central and most important element of Christian Theology. Without the cross, without the suffering of Jesus, without the sacrifice we would not be able to know God. It is the work of God through the cross at Calvary that opened the way for us to be reconciled again to Him. It is the cross that paid the ultimate price for our sin. The Psalm from two weeks ago foresaw that day where we can enter into the suffering of Jesus:
Psalm 69:19–20 NKJV
19 You know my reproach, my shame, and my dishonor; My adversaries are all before You. 20 Reproach has broken my heart, And I am full of heaviness; I looked for someone to take pity, but there was none; And for comforters, but I found none.
The sword of the Roman pierced His heart. He had poured out His life for us.
It seems incredible that something that happened about 2000 years ago in a little area known by the Romans as Palestine of a Man around 34 or 36 dying by capital punishment should wreak such upheaval in the history of the world in the lives of the many millions who have individually come to the cross for peace with God. There was and is no peace with God without the cross.
Jesus was prophesying what the Pharisees would get the Romans to do on their behalf though crucifixion. And by so doing would prove that He is the I AM. How?
For one, He foretold it and
secondly, death will not keep Him down. He is the eternal One. He rose from the dead proving His victory over sin, over the grave, over death and over hell and over His enemies. If these people would put their trust in Him then they too could be saved.
For the Truth will set them free. What is the Truth but Jesus Himself. He tells us that we are slaves to sin if we sin. Who here can say that they do not sin? Not one of us. But Jesus sets us free from the power of sin and its guilt.
The choice has been put forth to the Pharisees and it is the same choice put forward before us. Do the claims of Jesus stack up? Was He sinless as He claimed? Was He sent by God to us below? And are we now sons of God or of Satan? Is the resurrection a fact of history?
Jesus said you will die in your sins. He is trying to awaken the Pharisees and us to the cliff edge that we are all on. What happens when we get to the end of our lives? Will we be separated from God?
Thomas Paine, a man born in the UK but was one of the founding fathers of the United States of America. It was his leaflet called: ‘Common Sense’ that first advocated and caused the War of Independence. He was also very anti-Christian and put humanist notion above God and published another leaflet that had enormous influence.
Preaching the Word: John—That You May Believe Chapter 29: Ultimate Separation—Ultimate Union

On the day Paine died, these were his final words.

I would give worlds, if I had them, that The Age of Reason had not been published. O Lord, help me! Christ, help me! O God what have I done to suffer so much? But there is no God! But if there should be, what will become of me hereafter? Stay with me, for God’s sake! Send even a child to stay with me, for it is hell to be alone. If ever the devil had an agent, I have been that one.1

The final words of Thomas Paine—separated from God, desolate

Yet, contrast this with Isaac Watts, one of our great hymn writers, whose words on the day he died could not have been more different:
Preaching the Word: John—That You May Believe Chapter 29: Ultimate Separation—Ultimate Union

It is a great mercy that I have no manner of fear or dread of death. I could, if God please, lay my head back and die without terror this afternoon.

And that afternoon he passed into glory. Wow! It was as if he had foretold his own death. Maybe it were a prayer.
We need not be in terror when we come to the moment of death. It is surely something that will happen to all of us barring Jesus’ coming beforehand. Are we ready or will we die in our sin? I have met many who wanted to put off the day of salvation hoping, as it were, to have a deathbed conversion. But the problem is that we become more cynical and more corrupt as we grow older.
Jesus was trying to awaken them to their plight but could not break through their unbelief. Jesus did not give up but, as always, when someone hears the Gospel, the choice is set before them and either they draw nearer to salvation or further away. He warned them that they die in sin and that before Almighty God who is holy holy holy.
Salvation was not available to them, as they thought, on account of their nationality but each person has to come to faith in Christ for themselves. Many people I have met think that they are Christians because they were Christened or because they were born in the UK. I think the latter is no more an issue due to our multiculturalism and multi-faith society. The fallacy is clear that you could be born into a Muslim family in the UK, plainly it is obvious you have not been born a Christian though we are in such a holy land as the UK(!).
But some of the same things are said, even by, dare I say it, some here. I go to Church. I do good. But friend, you could still die in your sins. We are called to follow Jesus, to put our trust completely in Him to save us from our dire situation, as the Psalmist says, from the miry pit. If we do not realise how wretched we are. If we do not realise our situation is hopeless then we will die in our sin. But Jesus is the only One who can lift us up out of the pit and put us on solid ground and this happens when we acknowledge His Lordship, that He is God, the I AM, the Eternal One and we accept the salvation He brings through His cross of suffering on our behalf, for our sin and will then follow Him. Then, and only then, can we call ourselves Christian.
The Son can set you free or you can remain a slave to sin. This is the choice given to us and to all the people of this world. Thomas Paine, a man of great influence, whose work produced a nation free from the tyranny of the kings of England could not find personal freedom from the tyranny of the devil and was like the Pharisees who travelled the world to make converts who became twice as much children of hell.
It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of Almighty God who has power to throw us body and soul into hell. This is bad news.
But He has given us a means of escape and that is through submission to His Son. Come to the Light of the World, to Jesus who came to seek and save you, and me. This is good news.


Revelation 1:4–8 NKJV
4 John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, 6 and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 7 Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen. 8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”


Fredrikson, R. L., & Ogilvie, L. J. (1985). John (Vol. 27). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.
Hughes, R. K. (1999). John: that you may believe. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
Leadership Ministries Worldwide. (2004). The Gospel according to John. Chattanooga, TN: Leadership Ministries Worldwide.
Lincoln, A. T. (2005). The Gospel according to Saint John. London: Continuum.
McGee, J. V. (1991). Thru the Bible commentary: The Gospels (John 1-10) (electronic ed., Vol. 38). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
Thomas, D. (1997). The genius of the fourth Gospel: a homiletical commentary on the Gospel of John. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
Exported from Logos Bible Software, 10:31 13 October 2018.
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