24 July 2017

John 8:21-30

“They said to him, ‘Who are you?’” (v. 25)

Psalm: Psalm 40:1-10


Confusion is present in this passage, confusion about Jesus, with his contemporaries coming to very different conclusions about him. In part, as elsewhere in John's Gospel, the difficulty is because Jesus' hearers wanted to take his words literally and then could not make sense of them. These verses can also seem confusing until you think about how John's Gospel is written. John has a double perspective; he is interested in what happened at the time and what it all meant. It is the significance or the meaning which is more important, because the aim is to help people really see and believe in Jesus.

In John's Gospel there are longer discussions or meditations which are written to help us believe. For example, there are seven 'I am' sayings which are written to help us understand and see. This passage refers to these, as Jesus says "you believe that I am he" (v. 24). There is no 'he' in the original Greek, but it makes better sense to add it for the English translation. Jesus is saying that he is much more than an ordinary human being, and he says here that they will understand when he is lifted up (verse 28), a reference to crucifixion. When Jesus is asked 'who are you' he replies simply 'I am' when Moses asked God's name he replied with some version of the verb to be, most usually translated as 'I AM' (Exodus 3:14).

Jesus honours the Father by doing his will and speaking the Father's words. It is his relationship with the Father which marks out his special identity, and that relationship took him to the cross where he died sacrificially for us. The big question remains 'Who are you?' It is a question we must each answer. Many today revere Jesus as a great teacher or a religious revolutionary; but to believe is to understand that Jesus is far more than that and that his life and death have meaning not just then, but now, not just for others, but really for me.

To Ponder

  • How open are you to what Jesus life means to you? Or do you want to hide behind others?
  • Jesus made it possible for us to enjoy a relationship with God, how can you?
  • John's Gospel invites us to think about the meaning of Jesus' life. Try and find a few minutes today to do just that. 

Bible notes author

The Revd Geoffrey Farrar

Geoffrey Farrar is a presbyter in the Richmond and Hounslow Circuit, where he has pastoral charge of three churches in Barnes, Putney and Roehampton. He trained at Wesley House in Cambridge and has recently completed an MA in Ancient History with the University of Trinity Saint David.