27 July 2023

John 8:31-47

Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, 'If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples.' (v. 31)

Psalm 81


John 8:12-29, the readings for Monday and Wednesday this week, are marked by controversy, tetchy conversations and something like 'a dialogue of the deaf' between Jesus and the Pharisees. So it comes as a relief at verse 30 to hear something more positive.

Despite the fact that these conversations don’t seem to have advanced understanding between Jesus and the Pharisees, there were people overhearing them who came to believe in Jesus, and he now addresses them. If they remain faithful to him, they will know truth.

Truth is one of the many interleaving themes in John’s Gospel.They pop out of the text, sometimes at unexpected moments. For example, in chapter 10, Jesus is expanding at length on the theme that he is 'the gate' to heaven for 'the sheep' (ie the people); one of the “I am” sayings. Those who enter by him will be safe, whereas the thief comes to steal. And suddenly, amid this complex of images, we get the sublime statement “I have come that you may have life, and have it abundantly”. (John 10:10)  In the same way, hidden among the thick undergrowth of John 8, we learn that those who remain Jesus’ disciples will know the truth and the truth will make them free.

Sadly, at this very point, the dialogue with the believers starts to go wrong. As good Jews, children of Abraham, they jib at the suggestion that they need 'liberating'. What a cheek! In his usual clear-sighted if undiplomatic way, Jesus tells them that they’re slaves to sin. They can only be set free by a permanent member of the household of God, and he, Jesus, is available as the Son of God to do so if they believe in him.

In the following verses (v. 37 onwards) they’re all swept up in the mass of opponents intent in doing away with Jesus. The conversation gets rather opaque, but all depends on accepting the truth which comes from God. God is the true Father and all who acknowledge this will love the Son.


To Ponder:

  • How do you respond to being told that you are a sinner?
  • What aspects of Jesus’ teaching do you find hardest to accept?


Father God, Jesus the Son, reveal your liberating truth for the world, the Church and individual believers, to the glory of your name. Amen.

Bible notes author

The Revd Alan Bolton

The Revd. Alan Bolton is a supernumerary presbyter in the High Wycombe Circuit. He currently edits the ministerial obituaries for the Conference.

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