90 Days with Jesus: John Chapter 8: Jesus the Intolerant

Chapter 8 of John’s Gospel

John chapter 8 is an incredible chapter. What’s more, what we learn about Jesus is that he was, actually, quite intolerant. As I see it, too few people want to actually listen to and read about the Jesus of the Scripture. The mantra going around nowadays is that Christians have to behave like the world: We must be accepting of all religions, and all people regardless of their persistence in sinful activities, and all forms of belief and unbelief, and all teachings about Scripture, and all ‘scripture.’ The mantra supposes one thing (falsely): That Christians are claiming to be perfect. So, built on that premise the logic goes like this: Christians assume they are perfect and claim that they alone know the way to salvation, it can be adequately demonstrated that they are not, in fact, perfect; therefore, Christians are not in sole possession of the way to salvation. But that’s not what Christians are saying at all.

What Christians are saying is that, in fact, we are all guilty before a Holy God. We don’t begin with ourselves and work outward from there. We begin with a Holy God and work down. We don’t compare ourselves to ourselves or even others in the vain hope that we might be a little better than our neighbor and therefore merit God’s attention. We begin with the premise that God is Holy, that He has revealed Himself to us in Jesus, and that, because He has done so, we are accountable to Him and His standard. Furthermore, Christians do not claim to be ‘in sole possession of the way to salvation.’ What we claim, rather, is that in Christ, and Christ alone, there is salvation—regardless of whether we happen to ‘possess’ it or not. Salvation belongs to Christ. He is the beginning and the end of all things.

In John 8, the people said: “We are Abraham’s descendants!” They thought that by a mere horizontal relationship they were guaranteed some special consideration. (Maybe they were before Jesus came.) When Jesus came to earth, all that went out the window: “So, if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Jesus makes the claim that until we have been set free by the Son, we are still slaves of sin. That means everyone. This means that until a person comes under the Sovereign emancipation of Jesus Christ they are, essentially, little more than an atheist, or, Jesus’ words: Children of their father, the devil. And those who belong to their father the devil are happy to do his desires (8:44). I think to state it any other way is to tell a lie and those who lie cannot possibly belong to anyone other than the father of lies.

Now I know all this sounds rather harsh, mean, intolerant, angry, and judgmental. But there is something to bear in mind: I’m not the one saying it! These aren’t my words. I didn’t invent them. I didn’t create them. I didn’t write them down for someone and ask that person to go and preach them. These words, in fact, belong to God: “I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me…If anyone keeps my word, he will never see death” (John 8:28, 51). This is what God said! If I reject what Jesus said, or change it, or lie about it, I am rejecting the very Word of God and inviting all sorts of judgment on myself. I don’t have any right to say something other than what Scripture says. Jesus could not say anything other than what He had heard in the Father’s presence. I don’t see how a Christian, thus informed, can fail to do any less.

So here’s what happened. At the beginning of John 8 Jesus met a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. When it was all said and done, Jesus said: Neither do I condemn you; however, that was not all he said: “Go now and leave your life of sin.” There was sin involved, but Jesus demonstrates in those verses the sort of, what I call, intolerant compassion that does, at times, fail the church. In other words, he was merciful to a sinful person, but he demanded her allegiance by calling her out of her life of sin. There is sin and it is not tolerated at all.

That’s a lot of heavy stuff but Jesus warns us. There will come a time when people will look for him and no longer find him and they will die in their sins. If you desire to be set free from the bonds and shackles of sin, this can only happen in Jesus. That’s all that the Christian is saying. And, sadly, for those who refuse Jesus there remains little but his judgment; not mine. And according to this passage of John: His judgment is always right.

Soli Deo Gloria!

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