The Gospel of John – Lesson 23 – John 8:48-59

48 The Jews responded, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?” 49 Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon. On the contrary, I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. 50 I do not seek my own glory. There is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. 51 Amen, Amen, I tell you: If anyone holds on to my word, he will certainly never see death.” 52 So the Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon. Abraham died, and so did the prophets. Yet you say, ‘If anyone holds on to my word, he will certainly never taste death.’ 53 You are not greater than our father, Abraham, are you? He died. And the prophets died. Who do you think you are?” 54 Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, about whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ 55 Yet you do not really know him, but I do know him. If I said, ‘I do not know him,’ I would be a liar like you. But I do know him, and I hold on to his word. 56 Your father Abraham was glad that he would see my day. He saw it and rejoiced.” 57 The Jews replied, “You aren’t even fifty years old, and you have seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Amen, Amen, I tell you: Before Abraham was born, I am.” 59 Then they picked up stones to throw at him. But Jesus was hidden and left the temple area.

When little children (and sometimes adults) get into an argument someone will call the other a bad name. This opens the door for the other to use a bad name in response. At first glance that might seem to be the case in this portion of God’s Word. Jesus had just called his audience children of the devil. Now the Jews responded by calling Jesus a Samaritan and someone possessed by a demon. Samaritans were detestable to the Jews. Their rivalry had existed for centuries. Jesus is the Son of God. To say he had a demon was to say he was the complete opposite of God’s Son.

The difference was the Jews used these names to insult Jesus. Jesus meanwhile called the Jews, children of Satan out of love. That might be hard to understand in the politically correct society we live in today. We have to guard every word so we don’t offend someone. But Jesus used harsh language because he wanted the Jews to see their lost condition so they would repent of their sins and believe that Jesus is the Messiah sent from God.

Jesus tried to explain to them the importance of trusting in him. Jesus said “If anyone holds on to my word, he will certainly never see death.” He prefaced this statement with a double “Amen.” The word “amen” means “it shall be so.” By repeating the word twice added emphasis that this was a trustworthy saying that deserves the full acceptance of all who hear it.

But Jesus’ audience completely misinterpreted what Jesus said. They reasoned that Abraham and the prophets all died. These men were faithful followers of God. But their faith didn’t keep them from dying. The Jews reasoned that Jesus was obviously lying. Everyone must die eventually, whether they are a follower of God or not.

Jesus’ response to their charges was designed to show how they had lost sight of what the Word of God promised. The Holy Scriptures pointed to the Messiah who would come to rescue the people from their sins. It is true we must all physically die someday. But the soul of the follower of Jesus never dies. It goes immediately to live on in the presence of our Lord forever. The body dies, but its death is only temporary. Through faith in Jesus it will rise to be reunited with the soul on the Last Day. All this is certain through faith in Jesus, whom God sent as the promised Messiah. Abraham trusted in God’s promises. Abraham was glad that God promised a Savior. He knew he could not save himself by his own works. He was glad that God provided a solution to his lost condition. Abraham also rejoiced in knowing that the Lord God had promised this Savior would come from his family line.

Once again, Jesus’ teaching revealed how hardened in sin his audience really was. Instead of seeing the truth of what Jesus said they argued that Abraham had died centuries earlier. Jesus was only about 30 years old at the time. He could not have known Abraham. Jesus replied by saying “Before Abraham was born, I am.” We talked in an earlier lesson about the “I AM” statements of Jesus in the Gospel of John. God gave this title to himself when he spoke to Moses from the burning bush in Exodus 3. It is the name God said he was to be known by for all time. By using this title, Jesus is proclaiming himself to be true God from eternity. Once again the double “Amen” at the beginning of the sentence further emphasizes that there is no doubt about what Jesus proclaimed. He is true God. He always has been and he always will be.

His audience clearly understood what Jesus was saying about himself. But their hearts were so hardened in unbelief that they refused to even consider the evidence Jesus had provided throughout his public ministry to prove what he said was the truth. They instantly decided he had spoken blasphemy. The penalty for this sin was death. They immediately took up stones to carry out their judgment. Once again Jesus proved himself to be true God. It was not his time to die yet. He hid himself and slipped away and no one was able to stop him.

We praise our Lord that like Abraham we believe God’s promise of the Savior. Our Lord cut through our sin-hardened hearts to let us see that Jesus is the true Son of God from eternity. Our hearts are glad like Abraham. We have additional reason to rejoice. Abraham looked ahead to the day of the Savior’s arrival. We live in fulfillment of God’s promises. We hold onto his promises by faith. We know that we will live eternally with our Lord in heaven.

Discussion Questions

1 – What foolish charge did the Jews bring against Jesus?
They accused him of being a Samaritan and of being demon-possessed. Their accusations had no facts to back them up. Such false charges further showed their unbelief.

2 – What did Jesus mean when he said those who hold onto his words would never see death?
Unless Jesus returns first, our bodies must one day face death. But Jesus spoke here of our souls. When the body of a Christian dies, their soul immediately goes to be with their Lord forever in heaven. The soul will remain in the safekeeping of the Lord until the Last Day when he calls our bodies from the grave. Body and soul will be reunited and we will live in eternal joy and peace with our Lord.

3 – The Jews believed in God. They knew the accounts of God in the Holy Scriptures were true. Why did Jesus say they did not know God?
They refused to believe in Jesus as true God. As 1 John 2:23 said “Everyone who denies the Son does not have the Father. But the one who confesses the Son has the Father as well.”

4 – How did Jesus prove himself to be true God at the end of John 8?
The Jews believed Jesus had spoken blasphemy by calling himself God. They wanted to stone him to death. But Jesus simply slipped away from them. It was not his time to die yet. No human being could do anything to harm the Son of God until he allowed it to happen.

If you have any questions about the Word of God we studied in this lesson please contact Pastor Greg Tobison. You can send your questions to