I was at a different church yesterday. Something about Sunday School stuck out. We were in John 8 when Jesus is talking to the religious leaders about who He is, and how much they’re missing the points He’s making.
Right after Jesus had forgiven the woman caught in adultery, He began to talk about being the light of the world (John 8:12), and claimed to be the Son of God by using the words for the name God had given Moses to tell the children of Israel: I AM (Exodus 3:13-14, and notably John 8:58, though sprinkled throughout the chapter).
When Jesus started the claim, the religious leaders told Jesus that just because He said He is something doesn’t mean He is. They told Him He can’t bear witness of Himself like that. But He could, because He was telling the truth. Jesus went on to tell them so and that He still had more witness than just Himself, He had the Father that sent Him. The religious leaders either missed the claim or pretended they didn’t realize it, given the way they asked Jesus about His Father. Jesus proceeded to tell them that they didn’t know either Him the Father like they should. He then told them that they would die in their sins and not be able to go where He was going (John 8:21), meaning Heaven.
Instead of focusing on the part about dying in their sins, the religious leaders skipped that and immediately asked what Jesus meant by going where they couldn’t, wondering if He was going to kill Himself. They missed the point. Because they wouldn’t accept Jesus, they would die in their sins and that’s why they wouldn’t be able to go where Jesus was going. Jesus told them they were from beneath, of this world, and He was from above, not of this world, again pointing out that they would die in their sins because they wouldn’t believe He was the Son of God sent from God the Father (John 8:23-24, with an I AM).
Once again they missed the point, asking Jesus who He was even though He’d just told them. As my dad said when he was teaching the lesson, it would be like if the police came knocking at your door and said, “Open up, it’s the police,” and you asked who it was at your door! So Jesus reminded the religious leaders that He’d been making this claim from the beginning and He’d already made the point clear, but the religious leaders still missed it (John 8:25-27).
Jesus continued again, pointing out a symbol from the time of Moses (Numbers 21:8-9). Jesus would be lifted up like the serpent in the wilderness so people could look to Him and be saved. When He was lifted up (on the cross), that would be further proof of His claim to be the Son of God (John 8:28, with another I AM). Jesus added that God the Father had sent Him and is always with Him, and He always does whatever pleases God the Father.
At this, many of the surrounding people who heard this conversation believed in Jesus’ claim. Jesus is the Son of God, sent by God the Father. The religious leaders missed the point, but these people did not. This makes me think of today. There will always be people who miss the point, but there will also always be people who get it.
Jesus is and certainly claimed to be the Son of God sent from God the Father to save us from the penalty of our sin. Because of Jesus we don’t have to die in our sins and not be able to go where He is.