BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
BIBLE STUDY LESSON
For the week beginning Sunday February 16, 2014
WONDERING ABOUT JUDGMENT?
(Living in the light of GOD’s Judgment)
In the New Testament Greek, the word most often used for “light” is “phos” (foce), and it means “to make shine, or manifest in the widest application”. In the Gospel of
John, the word “light” is closely associated with distinguishing between that which is true, and that which is false.
As the “LIGHT OF THE WORLD”, JESUS becomes the only source of illumination of spiritual reality that this world will ever know. To believe in HIM, is to see all things as they really are. To not believe in HIM, is to be left with only our own human standards, and, of course, darkness.
In John 8:12, JESUS gives us the second of HIS seven great “I AM Statements”. “I AM the light of the world” is what HE said to a packed house in the “Women’s Court” of the Temple at Jerusalem, during the “Torch Lighting” ceremonies, of the Feast of the Tabernacles.
One of the major features of the feast was the lighting of giant torches whose wicks were made from some of the worn out garments of the priests. The torches illuminated the court area and the people sang praises to GOD and danced. The torch lighting was in commemoration of how GOD was with the Israelites, in a pillar of clouds by day, and, in a pillar of fire by night, while they wandered in the desert, after their release from bondage in Egypt (Numbers 9:15-23).
How fitting it was for JESUS to make this statement at this particular time, while the large torches were burning, and everyone’s minds were focused on the bright lights of the Temple. In the Bible, light is a symbol of THE ALMIGHTY GOD and HIS Holiness. Here JESUS is plainly stating that HE is not just a light, or even, merely another light among many, but HE is “THE LIGHT” for the whole world. He, who is wise enough to choose to follow JESUS, will never again walk in darkness. That doesn’t mean that he will never sin again, it only means he will never be able to live comfortably in his sin. He will not remain under the dominion of sin and darkness, because he has THE CHRIST to light his way.
JESUS never really answered the religious leaders’ question of “Where is YOUR FATHER?” Still HE didn’t really avoid it either, but rather, HE addressed it honestly. JESUS fully knew that their father was certainly not GOD. In fact, HE knew that their father was satan. Yes, even though they were religious leaders in Jerusalem, they were still children of the devil. This was, of course, evidenced in their continued attempts, to arrest JESUS. They had been unsuccessful in doing so, up until this point, because JESUS’ hour of passion had not yet come.
The true Christian dies in the LORD because he lives in the LORD. By contrast, the unbeliever dies in his sin because he lives in his sin. The sin of man is his unbelief in CHRIST JESUS. In John 8:21-30, JESUS issues another stern warning to those who refused to believe on HIM before it is too late. And just as JESUS’ time left on this earth was very short at that point, so were their opportunities to get to know HIM, also very limited. They were squandering away the opportunities GOD had given them, by arguing with JESUS, instead of learning to trust in HIM.
In this passage, once again JESUS speaks about soon going away to a place where they could not follow HIM. The puzzled Jewish leaders thought that he was speaking of committing suicide, which was a detestable thing in the Jewish community. The Jews have always been taught to respect all of life. To commit suicide meant that a person would automatically go to a place of judgment, and being the righteous people that they thought they were, there would be no way that they could follow JESUS there. But in verses 23-24, JESUS tells them that they “are from below, or “of this earth” and I AM not. That is why I said that you will die in your sins. Unless you believe that I AM WHO I say I AM, you will indeed die in your sins.” Incredibly, the Jews continued to ask WHO JESUS was, even though HE had given them all kinds of evidence as to HIM being the SON of the living GOD that they claimed they themselves worshiped.
The revelation of CHRIST JESUS as “I AM” in verse 25 only further confused these spiritual dimwits, and HIS words regarding their sins probably infuriated them also. JESUS could have said much more to HIS unbelieving audience, and certainly HE was more than qualified to condemn them. However the whole purpose of HIS first advent was to save the world, not condemn it.
Unfortunately, HIS message was one that they could not hear, because GOD was simply unknown to them. Their lack of spiritual understanding caused them to totally miss JESUS and HIS life-giving message of salvation. JESUS told them that only when they have lifted HIM up on the cross, would they fully realize WHO HE was. By this, HE did not mean that all of them would be saved, but rather, that the cross would reveal that HE was GOD’s LIVING WORD delivered directly to man, in an effort to save him.
A closed mind puts an end to discipleship before it begins. One must have an open mind before they can believe, and must be receptive, before they can receive, and then finally, they must be willing to obey, that which they perceive. In other words, true disciples learn, in order that they may do that which they have learned.
In verses 31-32 (KJV), JESUS tells a group of believers, who gathered around HIM in the Temple at Jerusalem that, “If ye continue in MY word, then are ye MY disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free”.
They responded by saying that they were the descendants of Abraham, and were never in bondage to any man. Ironically, even as they spoke, they were being oppressed by the Romans, who ruled over most, of the known world at that time. Not to mention their previous history of bondage in Egypt, Syria, and Babylon, how soon the human mind forgets.
Probably, in the biblical sense, there are basically two kinds of Prophets, the one who delivers a message of how we can be spiritually free, and the one, who delivers a message to those, who think they are free, but are in fact, in spiritual bondage. Here in this passage, John 8:34-59, we see JESUS taking on the role of the latter.
Throughout this passage, we see CHRIST trying to deliver a spiritual message to a group of religious leaders, who surprisingly, only seem to be able to listen physically, and can’t seem to find a place in their hearts to receive HIS words spiritually.
In verses 34-35, JESUS tells them that everyone who sins is a slave to sin, and that a slave is not a permanent member of the family. Remember, in Abraham’s family, he fathered Ishmael by the Egyptian slave girl, Hagar, outside of the will of GOD and they were later, cast out of the house, by Abraham, even though Ishmael was his descendant (Genesis 21:8-21). Isaac was the son who belonged and therefore, he remained in the house.
And so, we see, that, though both sons were descendants of Abraham, one belonged spiritually (within the will of GOD), and the other didn’t. And so, the one who didn’t belong spiritually, Ishmael, had to be cast from among them, physically. JESUS goes on to tell them that if they were children of Abraham, they would follow Abraham’s example of faith and belief in FATHER GOD, and they wouldn’t be trying to kill HIM. The angry religious leaders then shouted, “We are not born out of wedlock! Our true father is GOD HIMSELF! JESUS then replies, “If GOD were your father, you would love ME, because I have come from HIM”.
The confused religious leaders continued to press their point and JESUS bluntly warned them of being in danger of dying in their own sins, unless they begin to believe in HIM. It is foolish to rely on a physical descent from Abraham, or anyone else, when only spiritual kinship to CHRIST JESUS is our ticket out of the bondage of our sins. Antagonism toward JESUS only proves that we are in the spiritual lineage of satan, and are unrelated to GOD.
“YAHWEH”, in the Hebrew language, is the personal name for GOD in the Old Testament, and it is translated in the English, “I AM”. In John 8:58, JESUS tells the crowd who gathered before HIM, that, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, “Before Abraham was, I AM”. In saying that, the crowd knew what HE was insinuating, and begin picking up stones to try and kill HIM. They believed that HE had blasphemed, by calling HIMSELF GOD. By saying that HE saw Abraham, and, in affirming the eternity of HIS OWN being, JESUS, that day, laid claim to being the GOD of the Old Testament, and the Jews were clearly infuriated, by the truth of HIS words.
True freedom can only come by knowing CHRIST JESUS, and we must come to recognize the difference between “freedom” and “liberty”. “Liberty” is “the free will of choice”, that GOD has given us, and “freedom” can only be realized, when we use that liberty, to choose the SON, that FATHER GOD has sent.
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website