Father, it’s clear that Your way is entirely better than any lifestyle we would have chosen on our own. Thank You for making us your family, and teach us to bear well the responsibility of representing You faithfully in the world. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Read John 7-8
John 7:1–24 As a result of His teaching, rumors were swirling about Jesus. He even faced death threats from religious authorities. Nevertheless, Jesus continued to attribute His power and wisdom to God, reiterating that He and He alone is the way to a right relationship with God. Jesus broke religious leaders’ idea of the Sabbath by challenging their values; He sidestepped their religious rituals to heal a broken person’s life and then challenged them to stop judging nearness to God by mere surface behavior.
Notice that those who opposed Jesus did so mostly because His behavior and teaching didn’t line up with their religious systems and presuppositions. They expected the Messiah to work within their limited understanding of the Law.
John 7:25–53 Jesus repeatedly called God “Father.” He pointed the Jews to their own prophets and religious fathers to explain who He was. Here, during a key religious feast, Jesus announced Himself as the source of spiritual life. He said anyone who believes He is God’s peace offering can start a new life with God. Yet again, John records Jesus’ use of an “I AM” statement, reminding listeners of God’s Old Testament name (YHWH). Jesus’ teaching causes conflict over whether or not He is the Messiah. But Nicodemus, the man who met Jesus in John 3, defended Him before the other leaders. After encountering Jesus in person, Nicodemus had been transformed!
Notice that Jesus is asking people to believe He is the way to a reconciled, peaceful life with God. He is clear that believers are those who view Jesus as the Son of God and the only path to reconciled relationships with God and others.
John 8:1–11 Jesus has authority to render appropriate judgments. He demonstrates this by preventing the stoning of an adulterous woman. How does he do this? By suggesting that the sinless person can throw the first stones. Clearly, the religious leaders wanted to trap Jesus into disregarding Moses’ law, but Jesus was able to secure the woman’s release even as He encouraged her to live God’s way.
Notice how Jesus flips their understanding of their religious system. According to the religious leaders, people tried to live God’s way to avoid judgment. But according to Jesus, it’s actually the opposite: people whom God saves from judgment are freed to live His way.
John 8:12–59 Because Jesus is endorsed by God the Father, His teachings are validated. But Jesus chooses neither to prove Himself nor to pass judgment on those who reject Him. Instead, He emphasizes that those who choose to follow Him will have a direct relationship with God. Jesus is clear that those who reject His words and refuse to live God’s way identify themselves as the enemies of God. True, the Jewish leaders claimed Abraham as their father. But by rejecting Jesus, they abandoned both Abraham’s clan and God’s family; they’ve forsaken the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 12.
John’s point about Jesus is extremely clear: people can only enter God’s family through Jesus. Those who reject God’s message as revealed in the Messiah are slaves to rebellion and sin.
12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’
- Though Jesus could have proven His power and authority, He repeatedly turned to His Father for endorsement, saying that those who know God will know Jesus—and vice versa. Jesus plainly taught that an earnest seeker of God will accept Jesus’ teaching. This is why He continually points people back to God, rather than proving Himself to them.
- Jesus continues to call Himself the Bread of Life—that is, God’s offer of reconciliation that will bring people into His family and sustain their lives. Based on John 7–8, how does Jesus say people can experience spiritual life and reconciliation with God?
- Thinking about this section’s discussion of mankind’s spiritual family line (Abraham’s, God’s, and Satan’s), consider the weight of being known as a member of God’s family. Consider the weight of this, especially in light of your previous opposition to Him. How can you reframe your life to center around God as your Father?
- Jesus flipped the religious mindset of His day on its head. Believers shouldn’t try to earn peace with God through their lifestyle or obedience. Freed by Jesus from a life of rebellion, believers now represent and embody God’s character; they should conform themselves to honor and express His perfect way. Are there ways you have sat in darkness (8:12), ignoring the freedom God gave you? How could you actively adopt God’s ways now that you’ve been enabled by God’s Spirit? Think about specific ways you could follow Jesus by doing the works God gives you (5:36).
- Continue to pursue new relationships with someone who is ethnically different. Consider bringing a younger disciple along with you. Explore Honor/Shame and Fear/Power issues. What brings shame in their culture? What are they fearful of? Here are some Suggested Starter Questions.[All Peoples, Making Disciples]