John 8 Part 1: Yeshua Still In Jerusalem For Sukkot

John 8 continues with Yeshua still in Jerusalem for Sukkot. Almost all of the leaders had decided they wanted to kill Him because they believed that He made blasphemous claims about Himself; that He was a false prophet who was leading the people astray; that He was a renegade who broke the Law because He healed people on the Sabbath.

The following account of the woman caught in adultery is not found in the earliest manuscripts. Some manuscripts include these verses, wholly or in part. However, I’d like to treat it as if it was part of this book: Then they all went home, but Yeshua went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn He appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around Him, and He sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law (experts on the Law) and the Pharisees (religious elites) brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Yeshua, “Rabbi, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing Him.

John let us know that this was a trap designed to harm Yeshua. Yeshua was known for being merciful to common people, and so if He said: “Follow the Law. Stone her to death,” He would go against His merciful inclination. But if He said: “Be merciful to her and let her go” He could be accused of breaking the Law. It seemed that no matter what Yeshua said, He would have to choose something that would harm Him. But Yeshua is wiser than any human being or any group of human beings and cannot be manipulated or trapped.

But Yeshua bent down and started to write on the ground with His finger – and while we can speculate, we don’t know what He wrote. When they kept on questioning Him, He straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” This is an amazing response – as we will see! Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first – because the older you are, and the more life experience you have, the more you tend to realize the extent of your inadequacies, failures and sins. And maybe the older ones were the first to leave because they were the first to understand the wisdom of Yeshua’s decision.

Those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first until only Yeshua was left, with the woman still standing there. Yeshua straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Yeshua declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Yeshua’s brilliant ruling upheld the Torah; showed mercy to the woman; and taught the religious leaders a lesson in humility. Yeshua upheld the Torah by acknowledging that the woman had indeed committed a sin punishable by death. He showed mercy to the woman, because He knew that all of them had sinned, and His ruling meant she would not be stoned. And He taught them a much needed lesson in humility by reminding them that each one of them had sinned, and if God hadn’t been merciful to them, they deserved to die. Therefore they should be merciful to the woman who had sinned and deserved to die.

Note that while Yeshua didn’t condemn her to death for committing adultery, neither did He minimize her behavior. He warned her to go and sin no more. God’s mercy is not to be taken advantage of. God’s mercy should motivate us to live the right way – not repeat our transgressions, presumptiously expecting more mercy.

At Sukkot, while the temple stood, along with the water pouring ceremony was a joyous celebration that took place at night. Four towering menorahs were constructed and in the brilliantly illuminated court of the women, the most prominent Israeli men took part in a torch-dance, while singing songs of praise to God. Meanwhile on the steps of the inner court, the Levites sang psalms, accompanied by various musical instruments. Of this celebration it is said that whoever has not witnessed it has never seen real joy. The celebration continued until the beginning of dawn, when the crowd went to the eastern gate of the city, and the priests recited: “Our forefathers in this place turned their backs on the altar of God and their faces to the east, worshiping the sun; but we turn to God.”

Knowing the prominence of light during Sukkot – huge menorahs, torches and the light of the sun – makes Yeshua’s next statement even more significant. When Yeshua spoke again to the people, He said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Yeshua claimed to be the light of the world, the source of humanity’s light: truth, revelation, wisdom, victory, happiness and life. To receive those blessings, people needed to follow Him, and we follow Him by believing who He claimed to be and transferring our loyalty to Him. When people do that, they will no longer live in darkness. They will not be confused about the most important truths; they will be close to God, not far from God; they will be headed to life, not death. Why wouldn’t the people He spoke to want that? Why wouldn’t we?

But some religious leaders who were there rejected what Yeshua was saying. The Pharisees challenged Him, “Here You are, appearing as Your own witness; Your testimony is not valid.” These religious elites said this because, according to the Torah, more than one person’s testimony is required to verify an important issue, and these were very important issues.

Yeshua answered, “Even if I testify on My own behalf, My testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. Yeshua claimed that He came from God, from Heaven, and was returning to God and to Heaven. Yeshua knew He is the Son of God, and the One who created the universe and everything in it; and the Creator, who is good, wise, powerful, holy and completely truthful doesn’t need a fallen creature to validate the truthfulness of His statements.

In contrast His to awareness of who He was, these religious elites were so far from God and so far from the truth, they didn’t know who Yeshua was, or where He was from, or that He would return to His place of highest honor in Heaven. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going.

He accused them making decisions about Him using inadequate standards. You judge by human standards. They didn’t know the facts, were biased against Him and were treating Him unfairly.

In contrast to them, Yeshua was not there to judge people, to put them on trial for wrongdoing. He was there to help people. I pass judgment on no one.

Yeshua claimed that if He was placed in the position of a judge, every decision He made would be right because He was close to God the Father, so close that they always worked together. But if I do judge, My decisions are true, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent Me. God the Father sent Yeshua, and would always enable His Representative to come to the right decision in every situation.

Yeshua didn’t need another witness, but He had another witness to testify to the truthfulness of His amazing claims about Himself. In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is true. I am one who testifies for Myself; My other witness is the Father, who sent Me.” At Yeshua’s baptism, the Father testified: This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. And again on the mountain on which Yeshua was transformed: This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased. Listen to Him! God the Father Himself testified not once, but twice, that Yeshua was His beloved Son who honored Him and who should be obeyed. Did the leaders really want to ignore the testimony of God?

Yeshua said His other witness was the Father, meaning God. The leaders misunderstood Him – again. They thought He was referring to His human father. Then they asked Him, “Where is Your father?”

Instead of clarifying that He was talking about His Heavenly Father, Yeshua responded by implying that their question, “where is Your father,” indicated they didn’t know God. “You do not know Me or My Father,” Yeshua replied. Yeshua told these leaders of the Chosen People, who should have known God the best, and been the most loyal to Him, that they really didn’t know God, or the Son of God who standing there right in front of them. Can people be so far from God that they can be in the presence of the Son of God and not be aware of it? Yes.

Yeshua made it clear that it’s impossible to separate knowledge of Him from knowledge of His Father. “If you knew Me, you would know My Father also.” Yeshua told them that to know who He is, is to know His Father. How could it be otherwise? The Son is exactly what the Father is like in human form. The Father is too great and glorious for fallen humanity to see. Humanity is very confused about God, and it’s one of the functions of the Son to reveal God to us – what He really is like and what He wants. So, if anyone wants to know who God is, the best place to start by getting to know Yeshua, who has come to Earth and revealed what God is like.

Our courageous Rabbi did not make these bold statements in an out-of-the-way place. He spoke these words while teaching in the temple courts near the place where the offerings were put. Yeshua made these declarations in the most public place, and for Him, a very dangerous place. Yet no one seized Him, because His hour had not yet come. He was under divine protection, and God would not allow Messiah to be killed a moment before He needed to be – which is true for all of us as well.

Yeshua got even bolder and stronger, reinforcing statements He made earlier. Once more Yeshua said to them (the leaders), “I am going away, and you will look for Me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come.” Yeshua claimed He was going away. He knew He would be killed, and come back to life and return to Heaven. Yeshua made it clear that by rejecting Him, the leaders would look for the Messiah but would be unable to find the true Messiah, because the true Messiah is Yeshua whom they rejected. And sadly, this has been the situation of the Jewish leaders for 2,000 years. Yeshua made it clear that by rejecting Him, they would die in their sin. They would die in a condition of unatonement. They would die without being reconciled to God. They would not go to Heaven where Messiah Yeshua is. This means that any Judaism without Yeshua at its center is a deadly form of spiritual deception.

Again, as happened so often, the leaders misunderstood Him. This made the Jewish leaders ask, “Will He kill Himself? Is that why He says, ‘Where I go, you cannot come’?” Of course, Messiah was not contemplating suicide.

But He continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. Yeshua claimed to be different from everyone else, that He came from a world that is higher and greater than this world, and that even though He was in this world, He was not of this world. He did not share in its fallenness. Why wouldn’t the leaders want to welcome a visitor from a different world, a superior world? Why wouldn’t we?

And He again claimed that knowing who He is and transferring loyalty to Him is the new way that God gives atonement and the only way that God now gives atonement. I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am He, you will indeed die in your sins.” Why would these leaders want to die in a state of alienation from God? Why would we?

“Who are You?” they asked. “Just what I have been telling you from the beginning,” Yeshua replied. What had He been telling them about Himself? He is the Son of Man, the ideal, perfect human being. He is the Messiah. He is the Son of God who shares the same divine nature and the same divine authority as God the Father. He has the same kind of eternal, uncreated, life-in-Himself kind of life that God the Father has. He was solely motivated by the desire to please the Father. He never acted on His own. He was always directed by God, and therefore every thing He said and did, and every decision He made, was right. He has the same authority and ability to resurrect the dead and give life to the people who please Him that God the Father has. He is able to give spiritual life, a life-giving relationship with God, to people in the present. He will be the sole judge of mankind on the Day of Judgment. These are some of the things that Yeshua had been telling them about Himself.

These men thought they were Yeshua’s superiors and His judges. They would decide His future. The truth was the opposite: He would be their judge. “I have much to say in judgment of you. When your judge, before your trial, tells you he has a lot to say when He judges you, you’re in a lot of trouble. Did the leaders really want their judge to have so much to bring up about them? Did they want their judge to condemn them when He judged them? If not, they needed to change their attitude toward Yeshua – as we may need to change some of our thinking about Yeshua.

Yeshua claimed that God, who is faithful and true, sent Him, and as God’s faithful ambassador, He faithfully communicated to mankind everything God wanted Him to say. But He who sent Me is trustworthy, and what I have heard from Him I tell the world. Why wouldn’t they want to believe everything that God’s faithful Representative told them? Why wouldn’t we?

John let us know they did not understand that He was telling them about His Father. And Messiah, who was a prophet, knew that it would only be after His death and resurrection that some of them would believe in Him. So Yeshua said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man (referring to His death on the cross – Yeshua knew that He would be killed and how He would die), then you will know that I am He and that I do nothing on My own but speak just what the Father has taught Me. Yeshua was teaching them even before it happened, that His death and resurrection would vindicate Him and validate the astounding things He said about Himself, because God would not allow a false Messiah to overcome death. Yeshua did die and rise from the dead, exactly as He predicted, and many were later convinced by His death and resurrection, and became followers of the one who faithfully communicated everything God told Him to say. Have you?

Yeshua claimed that He was God’s Ambassador, God’s Representative, God’s Emissary, and that God was always very close to Him, and never abandoned Him because Yeshua’s sole motivation was to please God, which He always did. The one who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do what pleases Him. The leaders of Israel may have rejected Him, but His Father? Never! And it’s so much better to have the approval and blessing of God than the approval of men. Do you agree?

Even though these are amazing claims, astounding claims, I think the greatest claims a human being has ever said about Himself; and even though almost of all the leaders did not believe Him, even as He spoke, many believed in Him.

But, Yeshua knew that there are those who believe and there are those who believe – true believers and false believers, believers who remain and those who don’t. Yeshua wanted to make sure those who believed were true disciples. To the Jewish leaders who had believed Him, Yeshua said, “If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

This is one of the best-known sayings of Yeshua, and very, very important. Regrettably, I won’t be able to comment on it until next week.

Let’s pray:

Thank You for allowing us this glimpse of some of the things that happened when Yeshua was in Jerusalem for Sukkot.

We praise You for the amazing wisdom Yeshua had which was revealed when confronted with the situation of the woman caught in adultery.

May we learn the lessons of upholding the standards set by Your Word, yet at the same time being humble and merciful.

May our understanding that You are gracious and merciful cause us to turn from our transgressions, and not presumptiously repeat them and expect more mercy.

Keep us from adultery, and other sexual sins.

Thank you for Yeshua’s boldness in the face of opposition. Bless us with similar courage.

Help us to know that Yeshua is the light of the world. May we experience the full amount of truth, revelation, wisdom, victory, happiness and life that come from Him.

Father, thank You for sending Yeshua, who is just like You and reveals who You are to us, so that we can really know You and what You want from us.

Help us know and believe that Yeshua is Your faithful Ambassador, Your Representative, Your Spokesman, Your Emissary, and believe and act on everything He said.

Thank You for revealing to us that Yeshua is a visitor from a different and superior world, and lived a perfect life on Earth, died a special death that ends our alienation from You, overcame death and then returned to Your world. Help us to really believe that and live in a way that reflects that truth.