This whole section records a heated discussion with accusations and counter accusations regarding the question; ‘Who is Jesus?’ (John8:25)
This is the question that every person on the planet needs to answer at some stage in their life or on the day Jesus Himself returns. We really only have three options when it comes to answering that question;
- Jesus is a Conman
- Jesus is a Madman
- Jesus is God/man
The Jewish people argumentatively engaging with Jesus here in John 8 were leaning towards options 1-2:
- They mocked Jesus defaming his identity & character pointing out that they believed He was a child born as a result of sexual sin (vs41)
- They said He wasn’t of pure descent, was a Samaritan and not a Jewish person (vs48)
- They claimed He was demon possessed (vs48)
- They charged Him as arrogant and a madman thinking He was greater than the hero of the Jewish faith – Abraham (vs53)
- They summarise their arguments with the question – ‘Who do you make yourself out to be?’ (vs53)
They considered Jesus as both a madman and a conman trying to trick people. Jesus knows where this line of thinking comes from – it’s source is in fact from none other than the devil himself (vs44). Jesus knew that the devil’s desire was to kill Him and deceive people.
All through John chapters 5-8 we have seen glimpses of Jesus’ divinity, His unique Father/Son relationship, His ability to give eternal life to whoever He wants to, His ability to perform miracles of power (walking on water, multiplying food, healing invalids, His teaching and understanding, His ability to forgive & His authority in the Temple courts…
All of these glimpses are in stark contrast to the challenge brought by these ones who were opposing Jesus who think Jesus is an evil conman or just a madman. In John 8:58 Jesus in direct answer to their questions regarding who He is (vs25&53) Jesus says plainly;
“Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am” – John 8:58
Jesus categorically declares – I AM. I am God, I am the ‘I AM’ who revealed Himself to Moses in the burning bush (Exodus 3:14)!
Also in this passage Jesus makes the statement we know so well; “…if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (vs36). This is a clear claim by Jesus to his divinity too, only God can free people from sin, satan, sickness and death! Jesus doesn’t offer to relieve or comfort but to set free entirely. Jesus is God, Jesus has total authority over sin, satan, sickness & death.