Being Convicted

John 8:3-11 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what say thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. 

The scribes and Pharisees attempted, yet again, to snare Jesus to arrest Him by bringing a woman that was taken in adultery. Had He contradicted Moses (Lev. 20:10; Deut. 22:22-24), He would have been condemned as a false prophet. Had He condemned the woman to death He would have been accused to the Romans as usurping authority, so He merely wrote on the ground as if He did not hear them. When they continued to ask, He told them that the sinless ones should first cast a stone. It is not recorded what He wrote on the ground.

Capital punishment by stoning was lawful (Ex. 19:13; Deut. 13:10; 17:5; 22:21). The Jewish method of execution was to cast the criminal from a 10 or 12 feet scaffold half-naked, with hands tied in the back. The witnesses did the pushing with great force and if this did not kill him a witness then would take a large stone and dash it upon the breast. On occasions where mobs stoned a man no scaffold was used, but certain accusers threw the first stones and then all could throw until the victim was dead (Num. 15:36; Jos. 7:25; 1Kings 21:13; Acts 7:58-59; 14:19; 2Cor. 11:25).

Conscience is a wonderful thing. It is the faculty that decides the lawfulness of our actions as to right and wrong (Rom. 2:12-16). The causes of their conviction was their own evil designs against Him, not so much against her; their failure to include the man who was guilty with the woman; what Christ wrote on the ground; the challenge to start throwing if they were sinless themselves; their hypocrisy which was known to Christ and others present; and their guilt of committing the same sin (Rom. 2:1).

As they were convicted by their own consciences, they, her accusers, started to depart, leaving the woman in the midst of the disciples and others who were present.

Jesus did not say He did not condemn adultery as a sin. He simply forgave the woman, as He had done others who were sinful (Matt. 9:1-8; Luke 7:37-50). He was not a magistrate and since no man of her accusers stayed to condemn, He was not going to pass sentence on the woman, taking it upon Himself to execute the law of Moses. He had to avoid the Jews accusing Him of taking magisterial authority in His own hands. Then, too, Christ came to save men, not to destroy them, so forgiveness of her sin was as much His obligation then as it still is when anyone repents and turns from sin (Matt. 12:31-32; 1Jn. 1:9). He frankly told her to sin no more, proving He did condemn adultery as a sin. He did so elsewhere (Matt. 5:27-32; 19:9, 18-19).

Can This Be the Christ?

John 7:25-31 Then said some of them of Jerusalem, Is not this he, whom they seek to kill? But, lo, he speak boldly, and they say nothing unto him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is the very Christ? Howbeit we know this man whence he is: but when Christ cometh, no man know whence he is. Then cried Jesus in the temple as he taught, saying, You both know me, and you know whence I am: and I am not come of myself, but he that sent me is true, whom you know not. But I know him: for I am from him, and he has sent me. Then they sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come. And many of the people believed on him, and said, When Christ come, will he do more miracles than these which this man has done? 

The question arose under the people if Jesus was not the one whom the Pharisees seek to kill because He spoke with such wisdom and authority; and if the rulers would indeed know that He (Jesus) is the very Christ (the anointed)?

The Rabbis taught from Isaiah 53:8 that when the Messiah would be born He would hide Himself and that when He appeared no man would know from whence He had come. They had a proverb, “Three things come unexpectedly: a thing found by chance, the sting of a scorpion, and the Messiah.”

Isaiah 53:8 reads that “he was cut off out of the land of the living,” not that He would hide Himself.

Christ answered in verse 28 and 29 their argument by saying that since they know Him and know where He came from, they should add to their knowledge that He did not come of Himself and was no self-appointed prophet. He came from God whom He knew, but whom the Rabbis did not know.

They then wanted to arrest Him, but no man was able to touch Him until His time (to be crucified) has come. God’s power backed up by innumerable angels would not allow Him to be arrested at this time (Matt. 26:53; Luke 22:53; John 18:6).

Many of the people believed He was the Christ because of the miracles He has done.

Will You Also Go Away?

John 6:64, 66-71 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will you also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.

Jesus knew from the beginning of His ministry who they were that did not believe in Him not, and who was to betray Him. Jesus knew two things from the beginning of His ministry. Many disciples went back – left Christ and did not follow Him anymore – but not the twelve for He asked: “Will you twelve also abandon Me?”

Peter answered that they had no one else to go to, that Christ alone had the words of eternal life, that Jesus was the Christ and that Christ was the Son of the living God. This kind of confession brings the new birth (1Jn. 5:1)

Christ chose the twelve when they were eager to follow Him and they were seeking to hear God’s will. ‘One of you is a devil’ – Here it reveals Judas as an adversary of Christ and under the influence of a devil (demon) and not as some say that he was satan.

Judas Iscariot was an ordinary man, the son of Simon (John 12:4; 13:2, 26); a genuine chosen and empowered apostle (Matt. 10:1-20; Mark 3:14-19; Luke 6:12-16; 9:1-10; Acts 1:17); the one carrying the purse of the disciples (John 12:4-6; 13:29); and a successful teacher and healer (Mark 6:7-13; Luke 9:10). He was named “Iscariot,” meaning “man of Kerioth,” a place in Judah (Jos. 15:25). He became a “thief” and an “adversary” of Christ late in His ministry (John 6:70; 12:4-6). He betrayed Jesus (Matt. 26:14-16, 47-50; Mark 14:10-11, 43-45; Luke 22:3-6, 47-49; John 13:2; 18:2-5; Acts 1:16-25), returned the money to the chief priests (Matt. 27:3-10), committed suicide and is lost (Matt. 26:24; 27:5; Mark 14:21; Luke 22:22; John 17:12; Acts 1:16-25). There are prophecies concerning him (Matt. 26:21-25; Mark 14:18-21; Luke 22:21-23; John 13:18-26; 17:12; Acts 1:16, 20; Psa. 41:9; 69:25; 109:8; Zech. 11:12-13).

Work the Works of God

John 6:28-29 Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that you believe on him whom he hath sent.

‘Work the works of God’ – we are commanded to let men see our good works and glorify God (Matt. 5:16) and to show faith by works (Jas. 1:22-27; 2:9-26). People “zealous of good works” are the only kind that is redeemed (Tit. 2:11-14). A desire to do miracles is not sinful if the motive is right. There can be a right and a wrong motive behind everything and a right and wrong way to do everything. Lucifer (Isa. 14:12-14) and Adam (Gen. 3:1-14) had a noble desire to be like God, but the motive behind it and the methods they used were sinful. One should desire this more than his necessary food, but he must go about it the way Christ set the example – by emptying Himself (Php. 2:5-11). Jesus did not rebuke even these selfish people for wanting miraculous power. He gave them the only true answer.

This answer to the question of what to do to work the works of God is the clearest one possible. It gives the sum total of all answers to the question. It has been so lightly passed over and limited in meaning to a mere faith that Jesus is the Son of God and to forgiveness of sins only. How far from the whole truth this is! Faith and forgiveness are a part of what is referred to, but not all. Receiving the power from on high to “work the works of God” is included (Mark 16:15-20; Luke 24:49; John 14:12).

Everlasting Life

John 6:26-27 Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, You seek me, not because you saw the miracles, but because you did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. 

The next day, the crowd from the previous day saw that there was no other boat there, except the one His disciples entered with, and that Jesus did not go with His disciples in the boat, but that His disciples left alone. When they, therefore, saw that Jesus was not there, neither His disciples, they also went to Capernaum by ship, seeking Jesus.

When they found Him on the other side of the sea, they asked Him when He came over. Jesus answered them that they seek Him not because they saw miracles, but because He gave them food and they ate; not as being convinced by visible miracles, which should lead godly men to acknowledge Him as Messiah, but as by appetite, which leads sensual men like beasts through the impulse of want and supply.

We get eternal life now and keep it forever if we meet the following conditions: Come to Christ (John 6:37, 44, 45, 65); know God and Christ (John 17:2-3); cause no offense (Matt. 18:8-9); forsake all (Matt. 19:27-29; Mark 10:28-30); overcome sin (Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21); live free from sin (Rom. 5:21; 6:16-23; 8:1-13; Tit. 2:11-14); fight the good fight of faith; lay hold on it (1Tim. 6:12, 19); be sober and hope to the end for it (Tit. 1:2; 3:7; 1Pet. 1:5, 9, 13); endure temptations (Jas. 1:12); love everybody (1Jn. 3:14-15); keep yourself in the love of God, looking for eternal life (Jude 1:20-24); be faithful unto death (Rev. 2:10; Heb. 12:14-15); believe and obey the gospel (John 3:15-19, 36; 4:14; 5:24; 6:40, 47, 54; 2Cor. 5:17; Rom. 1:5); be born again, hear Christ, and follow Him (John 3:1-36; 10:27-29).

BUT eternal life does not become an unforfeitable eternal possession until we enter into it (Matt. 7:13; 18:8-9; 19:17; Rom. 6:22); receive it (Rom. 6:23; Jas. 1:12; 1Pet. 1:13; Rev. 2:10); reap it (Gal. 6:7-8); and inherit it in the world to come (Matt. 19:27-29; Mark 10:28-30; Luke 18:28-30), and at the end of this life (Rom. 6:22).

‘Him has God the Father sealed’ – confirmed by giving Him the Holy Spirit without measure (John 3:33-34).

Made Whole

John 5:9-18 And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath. The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed. He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk. Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk? And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place. Afterwards Jesus found him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee. The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole. And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day.

The man obeyed Christ by ‘rising-up’ and was healed even before he took his bed and walked. It was on the sabbath and it was unlawful to carry anything from a public place to a private place, and vice versa and thus the Rabbis asked him who told him to take up his bed and walk? He answered them that it was ‘He that made me whole.’

When they questioned him more on the Healer’s identity, he could not answer them, because he did not know that it was Jesus and because Jesus withdrew from the multitude that was in that place. He knew the hatred of the leaders and the result of His breaking their man-made laws.

Afterwards, Jesus found him in the temple, and said unto him, ‘Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.’ Sin always brings back the curse (sickness and disease – Pro. 26:2).

The man told the Jews that it was Jesus who healed him and it brought persecution because it was done on a sabbath. God hated sabbaths and predicted He would do away with them (Isa. 1:13-15; Hos. 2:11). God hates any law, ritual, or form of religion that violates good and exalts pride and hypocrisy.

The Harvest

John 4:35-39 Say not you, There are yet four months, and then come harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reap receive wages, and gather fruit unto life eternal: that both he that sow and he that reap may rejoice together. And herein is that saying true, One sow, and another reap. I sent you to reap that whereon you bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and you are entered into their labours. And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did. 

The harvest began after the Passover in April, so the four months before this would be in December. ‘Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.’ This refers to the Samaritans that were coming out of the city to hear Him. The harvest of souls was already at hand, produced in one day. The lesson is that we are not to sit and wait four months for spiritual harvests; we can have an immediate harvest of the seed sown by living out God’s love to us indeed (by our example) and not through our words (1 Jn. 3:18) in our daily dealings with others.

Christ had sown the seed in the woman and had already received wages of gratification of saving souls. He had sown and gathered fruit unto life eternal the same day, so the sower and the reaper, who here were one and the same person, rejoiced over the harvest of that day (comp. 1Cor. 3:6-9).

Verse 38 simply states that Christ had sent the disciples out to reap benefits of the labours and to carry on the work of the prophets and others before them, including Himself and John the Baptist. They had already baptized many and had preached and healed many (Matt. 10:1-42; Luke 9:1-62; 10:1-42; John 4:2). ‘Believed on him’ – This brings the new birth and eternal life (John 3:15-18; 1Jn. 5:1).

There is no proof that the woman was a prostitute. Her five husbands could have died, or they could have legally divorced her, for divorce then was easy to get. Men divorced for “every cause” (Matt. 19:1-12). It was not always that Deuteronomy 24:1 applied: “and it comes to pass that she find no favour in his eyes because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement.” Rabbis now ignored this, giving divorces for minor causes. Whether the Samaritan allowed divorce or repeated widowhood is not known. The one “whom thou now hast” may have only been under contract to her and they had not yet come together as man and wife (John 4:18).

The Gift of Knowledge

John 4:16-20 Jesus say unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that said thou truly. The woman say unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. 

‘Go, call thy husband’ this was Christ’s way of getting to the root of her trouble, so He could legally give her salvation. Christ knew by the Holy Spirit’s gift of knowledge that she had five husbands; and the one whom she was with was not her husband, (1Cor. 12:4-11). He could see her past and read her thoughts, as He did with others (Mat. 9:4; 12:25; Luke 5:22; 6:8; 11:17; John 2:24-25).

This knowledge about her past life startled her and she concluded that He was a prophet with power. She quickly changed the subject lest he exposes more of her life.

Mt. Gerizim, the mount of blessing, just across a narrow valley from Mt. Ebal, the mount of cursing (Deut. 11:29; 27:12-26; Jos. 8:33). Jotham addressed Israel here (Jdg. 9:7). About 332 B.C. Sanballet, governor of Samaria under the Persians, and who opposed Israel under Nehemiah (Neh. 4:7-13:28), went over to the side of Alexander the Great who gave him permission to build a temple on Mt. Gerizim like the one in Jerusalem. He built it for his son-in-law, Manasseh, and made him High Priest. The Samaritans established rival worship to Jerusalem and accepted the Pentateuch as their Bible. The great controversy between Jews and Samaritans was whether to worship on Gerizim or Moriah. Since Christ’s words proved Him to be a prophet, the woman seized upon the opportunity to have this question answered.

Without Measure

John 3:34-36 For he whom God has sent speak the words of God: for God give not the Spirit by measure unto him. The Father loves the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abide on him. 

Christ said to Philip in John 14:10 that the words He spoke unto them (the disciples) He spoke not of Himself: but of the Father that dwell in Him (was in union with Him). Jesus was baptized with the Spirit and not just filled by measure. He had the Spirit ‘without measure’ (Isa. 11:2; 42:1; 61:1; Luke 4:16-21; Acts 10:38) and was thus endued with power for service.

He that believes on Christ – His life, death and resurrection (1Jn. 1:6-7), His testimony (1Pet. 2:21-23), and obey the Words He spoke, shall have eternal life; but judgement for those who do not believe (Greek = apeitheo) who will not allow one’s self to be persuaded to comply with, or to obey, where belief implies obedience and not only mental acceptance of a historical fact.

‘The wrath of God abides on him’ where wrath in Greek here is the word orge, which means temper, agitation of the soul, violent emotion, anger, wrath, indignation, hence used of punishment itself. Here it is God’s attribute manifested in punishing the rebellion and sin of man (Rom. 1:18; 4:15; 9:22; 2Thes. 1:1-12:16; Heb. 3:11; 4:3; Rev. 14:10).

Friend of the Bridegroom

John 3:28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. He that has the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which stand and hear him, rejoice greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. 

The friend of the bridegroom is the one who played an important part in the wedding ceremonies, and sometimes conducted the negotiations between the bride and groom. The friend, at the time of the first meeting of the bride and groom, stands just outside the door to hear how delighted the groom is about his bride.

‘This my joy, therefore, is fulfilled’ This does not mean John was not to be a member of the future bride of Christ, for he will be. The heavenly city, the New Jerusalem, is the bride of Christ (Rev. 21:2, 9-10). All Old Testament saints (Heb. 11:10-16) and all New Testament saints will go there (Heb. 13:14; John 14:1-3). This includes John the Baptist and other saints of all ages from Abel to the end of the first resurrection (1Cor. 15:23, 51-58; 1Thess. 4:16; Rev. 20:4-6). All John expresses here is the fact that he is not the bridegroom, but his friend, as are all saints who are friends of the bridegroom (John 15:13-15). As John invited people to Christ, so do all the members of the bride (Rev. 22:17).