The rest of chapter eight deals with Jesus’ confrontation with the religious leaders about his credentials, and there’s a lot of important information for us. John (and we) discussed the issue of testimony back in chapter 5, but here the Savior really cut to the chase. This time he didn’t mention John the Baptist, or his own miracles, or the Scriptures. He only pointed to the testimony of the Father, coupled with what he said about himself. Two witnesses were enough to validate his claims.
But he also made some unusual assertions about himself, and I’d like to look at them for just a moment. First, his testimony was especially credible because, unlike them, he knew where he was from and where he was going. When you think about it, he’s really the only one who can say truly say this, isn’t he? They knew some facts about him, but they didn’t know him. He was born in
Bethlehem and was raised in , but beneath this humble exterior was God in human flesh. And they didn’t know where he was going: He was on the Father’s timetable, and they knew nothing about his future. Nazareth
Here we come to a very mysterious passage. Jesus didn’t “pass judgment” on anyone? Does this contradict other verses in which he said he would judge people at the Last Day? Again, the key is context. He was talking about judging people in the same sense that the Pharisees judged people: By “human standards.” We judge by appearances, by what we can see with the naked eye. But he doesn’t. He sees us as we are, and his gaze is a blaze of fire which'll burn right through our our excuses, our secrets, and all the things we try to hide behind. His eyes will pierce to the bottom of our soul, and that’s a real problem for anyone not covered by his blood. Abraham Lincoln said that you can fool some of the people some of the time, or maybe all of the people some of the time. But my friend, you can fool Jesus none of the time. And when he judges, he doesn’t judge alone, not really. Whatever he says in judgment, he has the full backing of the Father behind him (vs. 16).
Then we get to the subject of fatherhood, which we’ll discuss more tomorrow. For now let’s point out that their rejection of his teachings and claims were not the result of ignorance on their part or lack of evidence on Jesus’. No, when they rejected him they were just revealing who their spiritual father was, and it wasn’t God.
After making these outlandish claims, of course they tried to seize him, probably to kill him on the spot. But they didn’t. Why not? Because his time had not yet come. No matter what he said, no matter where he went, he was perfectly safe, because his Father had not ordained his Passion yet. As someone once told me, the safest place in all the world is right in the center of where God wants me to be.
Lord Jesus, this is a great reminder that your eyes of fire are looking at me, even now. May your gaze burn out all the dross and all the impurities you find there. And please mix judgment with mercy.