Keith Hunt - Last Great Feast - John 8 #2 - Page Two   Restitution of All Things

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Last Great Feast - John 8 #2

Jesus is the Light and Truth


                From Alfred Edersheim's book
                "The Life and Times of Jesus
                        the Messiah"


As is clearly recorded for us in John 8:1-2, this section of
Jesus' dealings with the Jews and Jewish religious leaders, took
place on the Last Great Feast Day, the day AFTER the Feast of
Taberancles. Applying this to the time when the Light of truth
and the only way to Salvation (through Jesus as the Son of God,
the Messiah) will be given and offered to the millions who will
rise in the White Throne Judgment resurrection (Rev.20), has then
an important message of hope for those who will repent of their
sins and accept Jesus as their personal savior - Keith Hunt.


Edersheim:

TEACHING IN THE TEMPLE ON THE OCTAVE OF THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES.
(St.John 8:12-59.)

.... what on every account seems more likely, chiefly, or all, on
the next day,'the Octave' of the Feast, when the Temple would be
once more thronged by worshippers.
On this occasion we find Christ, first in ' The Treasury,' and
then in some unnamed part of the sacred building, in all
probability one of the 'Porches.' Greater freedom could be here
enjoyed since these 'Porches,' which enclosed the Court of the
Gentiles, did not form part of the Sanctuary in the stricter
sense. Discussions might take place, in which not, as in 'the
Treasury,' only I the Pharisees, but the people generally, might
propound questions, answer, or assent. Again, as regards the
requirements of the present narrative, since the Porches opened
upon the Court, the Jews might there pick up stones to cast at
Him (which would have been impossible in any part of the
Sanctuary itself), while lastly, Jesus might easily pass out of
the Temple in the crowd that moved through the Porches to the
outer gates.

But the narrative first transports us into 'the Treasury,' where
'the Pharisees ' or leaders would alone venture to speak. It
ought to be specially marked, that if they laid not hands on
Jesus when He flared to teach in this sacred locality, and that
such unwelcome doctrine, His immunity must be ascribed to the
higher appointment of God: 'because His hour had not yet come.'
An archaeological question may here be raised as to the exact
localisation of 'the Treasury,' whether it was the colonnade
around 'the Court of the Women,' in which the receptacles for
charitable contributions - the so-called Shopharoth, or
'trumpets' - were placed, or one of the two 'chambers' in which,
respectively, secret gifts and votive offerings  were deposited.
The former seems the most likely. In any case, it would be within
'the Court of the Women,' the common meeting place of the
worshippers, and, as we may say, the most generally attended part
of the Sanctuary. Here, in the hearing of the leaders of the
people, took place the first Dialogue between Christ and the
Pharisees.

It opened with what probably was an allusion alike to one of the
great ceremonies of the Feast of Tabernacles, to its symbolic
meaning, and to an express Messianic expectation of the Rabbis.
As the Mishnah states: On the first, or, as the Talmud would have
it, 'on every night' of the festive week, 'the Court of the
Women,' was brilliantly illuminated, and the night spent in the
demonstrations already described. This was called 'the joy of the
feast.' This 'festive joy,' of which the origin is obscure, was
no doubt connected with the hope of earth's great harvest joy in
the conversion of the heathen world, and so pointed to 'the days
of the Messiah.' In connection with this we mark, that the term 
'light' was specially applied to the Messiah. In a very wresting
passage of the Midrash we are told, that, while commonly windows
were made wide within and narrow without, it was the opposite in
the Temple of Solomon, because the light issuing from the
Sanctuary was to lighten that which was without. This reminds us,
of the language of devout old Simeon in regard to the Messiah,
as, 'a light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of His people
Israel.' The Midrash further explains, that, if the light in the
Sanctuary was to be always burning before Jehovah, the reason
was, not that He needed such light, but that He honoured Israel
with this as a symbolic command. In Messianic times God would, in
fulfilment of the prophetic meaning of this rite, 'kindle for
them the Great Light,' and the nations of the world would point
to them, who had lit the light for Him Who lightened the whole
world. But even this is not all. The Rabbis speak of the original
light in which God had wrapped Himself as in garment, which could
not shine by day, because it would have dimmed the light of the
sun. From this light that of the sun, moon, and stars ,had been
kindled. It was now reserved under the throne of God for the
Messiah, in Whose days it would shine forth once more. Lastly, we
ought to refer to a passage in another Midrash, where, after a
remarkable discussion on such names of the Messiah as 'the Lord
our Righteousness,' 'the Branch,' 'the Comforter,' 'Shiloh,' 
'Compassion,' His Birth is connected with the destruction, and
His return with the restoration of the Temple.' But in that
passage the Messiah is also specially designated as the
'Enlightener,' the words: 'the light dwelleth with Him,' being
applied to Him....But indeed, the whole Address, the
argumentation with the Pharisees which follows, as well as the
subsequent Discourse to, and argumentation with the Jews, are
peculiarly Jewish in their form of reasoning....

He was the sent of God, the Messiah.... The teachers of Israel
knew not, nor believed in the total corruption of man - Jew as
well as Gentile and, therefore, felt not the need of a Saviour...
They understood not their own Bible: the story of the Fall - not
Moses and the Prophets; and how could they understand Christ?
They believed not them, and how could they believe Him? ...

And so, here also, were the words of christ true, that it needed
heavenly teaching, and kinship to the Divine, to understand His
doctrine.
This, underlies, and is the main object of these Discourses of
Christ....that there was a moral power of evil which, held us all
- not the Gentile world only, but even the most favored, learned
and exalted among the Jews. Of this power Satan was the
concentration and impersonation; the prince of 'darkness.' This
opens up the reasoning of Christ, alike as expressed and implied.
He presented Himself to them as the Messiah, hence as the Light
World. It resulted, that only following Him would a man 'not walk
in the darkness but have the light' - and that be it marked, not
the light of knowledge, but of life. On the other hand, it also
followed, that all who were not within this light, were in
darkness and in death....

The interruption of the Pharisees was thoroughly Jewish, and so
was their objection. It had to be met, and that in the Jewish 
form, in which it had been raised, while the Christ must at the
same time continue His former teaching to them concerning God and
their own distance from Him....But, as for their main charge, was
it either true, or good in law? In accordance with the Law of
God, there were two witnesses to the fact of His Mission: His
own, and the frequently-shown attestation of His Father. And, if
it were objected that a man could not bear witness in his own
cause, the same Rabbinic canon laid it down, that this only
applied if his testimony stood alone. But if it were corroborated
(even in a matter of greatest delicacy), although by only one
male or female slave - who ordinarily were unfit for testimony -
it would be credited....

The reasoning of Christ, without for a moment quitting the higher
ground of His teaching, was quite unanswerable from the Jewish
standpoint. The Pharisees felt it, and, though well knowing to
Whom He referred, tried to evade it by the sneer - where (not
Who) His Father was? This gave occasion for Christ to return to
the main subject of His Address, that the reason of their
ignorance of Him was, that they knew not the Father, and, in
turn, that only acknowledgment of Him would bring true knowledge
of the Father.
Such words would only ripen in the hearts of such men the
murderous resolve against Jesus. Yet, not till His, not their,
hour had come! Presently, we find Him again, now in one of the
Porches - probably teaching, this time, 'the Jews.' We imagine
they were chiefly, if not all, Judaeans - perhaps Jerusalemites,
aware of the murderous intent of their leaders - not His own
Galileans, whom He addressed. It was in continuation of what had
gone before - alike of what He had said to them and of what they
felt towards Him. The words are intensely sad - Christ's farewell
to His rebellious people, His tear-words over lost Israel; abrupt
also, as if they were torn sentences, or, else, headings for
special discourses: 'I go My way' - 'Ye shall seek Me, and in
your sin  shall ye die' - 'Whither I go, ye cannot come,' And is
it not all most true? These many centuries has Israel sought its
Christ, and perished in its great sin of rejecting Him; and
whither Christ and His kingdom tended, the Synagogue and Judaism
never came. They thought that He spoke of His dying, and not, as
He did, of that which came after it. But, how could His dying
establish such separation between them? This was the next
question which rose in their minds. Would there be anything so
peculiar about His dying, or, did His expression about going
indicate a purpose of taking away His Own life?'
It was this misunderstanding which Jesus briefly but emphatically
corrected by telling them, that the ground of their separation
was the difference of their nature: they were from beneath, He
from above; they of this world, He not of this world. Hence they
could not come where He would be, since they must die in their
sin, as He had told them - 'if ye believe not that I am.'....

Jesus now addressed Himself to those who thus far - at least for
the moment - believed on Him. They were at the crisis of their
spiritual history, and He must press home on them what He had
sought to teach at the first. By nature far from Him, they
were bondsmen. Only if they abode in His Word would they know the
truth, and the truth would make them free. The result of this
knowledge would be moral, and hence that knowledge consisted not
in merely believing on Him, but in making His Word and teaching 
their dwelling - abiding in it. But it was this very moral
application which they resisted. In this also Jesus had used
their own forms of thinking and teaching, only in a much higher
sense. For their own tradition had it, that he only was free who
laboured in the study of the Law. Yet the liberty of which He
spoke came not through study of the Law, but from abiding in the
Word of Jesus. But it was this very thing which they resisted.   
And so they ignored the spiritual, and fell back upon the
national, application of the words of Christ. As this is once
more evidential of the Jewish authorship of this Gospel, so also
the characteristically Jewish boast, that as the children of
Abraham they had never been; and never could be, in real
servitude. It would take too long to enumerate all the benefits
supposed to be derived from descent from Abraham. Suffice here
the almost fundamental principle: 'All Israel are the children of
Kings,' and its application even to common life, that as 'the
children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, not even Solomon's feast
could be too good for them.' 
 
Not so, however, would the Lord allow them to pass it by. He     
pointed them to another servitude which they knew not, that of
sin, and, entering at the same time also on their own ideas, He
told them that continuance in this servitude would also lead to
national bondage and rejection: 'For the servant abideth not in
the house for ever.' On the other hand, the Son abode there for
ever; whom He made free ... they would be free in reality and
essentially ... But they entertained purposes of murder, and
that, because the Word off Christ had not free course, made not
way in them. His Word was what He had seen with (before) the
Father, not heard - for His presence was there Eternal ... And
thus He showed them - in answer to their interpellation - that
their father could not have been Abraham, so far as spiritual
descent was concerned. They had now a glimpse of His meaning, but
only to misapply it, according to their Jewish prejudice. Their
spiritual descent, they urged, must be of God, since their
descent from Abraham was legitimate.  But the Lord dispelled 
even this conceit by showing, that' if theirs were spiritual
descent from God, then would they not reject His Message, nor
seek to kill Him, but recognize and love him.

But whence this misunderstanding of His speech? Because they are
morally incapable of hearing it - and this because of the
sinfulness of their nature: an element which Judaism had never
taken into account. And so, with infinite Wisdom, Christ once
more brought back His Discourse to what He would teach them
concerning man's need, whether he be Jew or Gentile, of a Saviour
and of renewing by the Holy Spirit. If the Jews were morally
unable to hear His Word and cherished murderous designs, it was
because, morally speaking, their descent was of the Devil. 

Very differently from Jewish ideas did He speak concerning the
moral evil of Satan, as both a murderer and a liar - a murderer
from the beginning of the history of our race, and one who 
'stood not in the truth, because truth is not in him.' Hence 
'whenever he speaketh a lie' - whether to our first parents, or
now concerning the Christ - 'he speaketh from out his own
(things), for he (Satan) is a liar, and the father of such an one
(who telleth or believeth lies).' Which of them could convict Him
of sin? If therefore He spake truth, and they believed Him not,
it was because they were not of God, but, as He had shown them,
of their father, the Devil.

The argument was unanswerable, and there seemed only one way to
turn it aside - a Jewish 'Tu quoque,' an adaptation of the 
'Physician, heal thyself': 'Do we not say rightly, that Thou art
a Samaritan, and hast a demon?' ... By no strain of ingenuity is
it possible to account for the designation 'Samaritan,' as given
by the Jews to Jesus, it is regarded as referring to nationality.
Even at the very Feast they had made it an objection to His
Messianic claims, that He was (as they supposed) a Galilean.  Nor
had He come to Jerusalem from Samaria; nor could He be so called
(as Commentators suggest) because He was 'a foe' to Israel, or a
'breaker of the Law,' or 'unfit to bear witness' - for neither of
these circumstances would have led the Jews to designate Him by
the term 'Samaritan.' But, in the language which they spoke, what
is rendered into Greek by 'Samaritan;' would have been either
Kuthi, which; while literally meaning a Samaritan, is almost as
often used in the sense of 'heretic,' or else Shomroni. The
latter word deserves special attention. Literally, it also means,
Samaritan; but, the name Shomron (perhaps from its connection
with Samaria), is also sometimes used as the equivalent of
Ashmedai, the Prince of the demons.' According to the Kabbalists,
Shomron was the father of Ashmedai, and hence the same as
Saminael, or Satan. That this was a wide-spread, Jewish belief,
appears from the circumstance that in the Koran (which, in such
matters, would reproduce popular Jewish tradition), Israel is
said to have been seduced into idolatry by Shomron, while, in
Jewish tradition, this is attributed to Sammael. If, therefore,
the term applied by the Jews to Jesus was Shomroni - and not
Kuthi, 'heretic' - it would literally mean, 'Child of the Devil.'

This would also explain why Christ only replied to the charge of
having a demon, since the two charges meant substantially the
same: 'Thou art a child of the devil and hast a demon.'  In 
wondrous patience and mercy He almost passed it by, dwelling
rather, for their teaching, on the fact that, while they
dishonoured Him, He honoured His Father. He heeded not their
charges. His concern was the glory of His Father; the vindication
of His own honour would be brought about by the Father - though,
alas, in judgment on those who were casting such dishonour on the
Sent of God. 
Then, as if lingering in deep compassion on the terrible issue,
He once more pressed home the great subject of His Discourse,
that only 'if a man keep' - both have regard to, and observe -
His 'Word,' 'he shall not gaze at death [intently behold it] unto
eternity' - for ever shall he not come within close and terrible
gaze of what is really death, of what became such to Adam in the
hour of his Fall.
It was, as repeatedly observed, this death as the consequence of
the Fall, of which the Jews knew nothing.  And so they once more
misunderstood it as of physical death  and, since Abraham and the
prophets had died, regarded Christ as setting up a claim higher
than theirs. The Discourse had contained all that He had wished
to bring before them, and their objections were degenerating into
wrangling. It was time to break it off by a general application.
The question, He added, was not of what He said, but of what God
said of Him - that God, whom they claimed as theirs, and yet knew
not, but whom He knew, and whose Word He 'kept.' But, as for
Abraham - he had 'exulted' in the thought of the coming day of
the Christ, and, seeing its glory, he was glad. Even Jewish
tradition could scarcely gainsay this, since there were two
parties in the Synagogue, of which one believed that, when that
horror of great darkness fell on him,  Abraham had, in vision,
been shown not only this, but the coming world - and not only all
events in the present 'age,' but also those in Messianic times. 

And now, theirs was not mis-understanding, but wilful mis-
interpretation. He had spoken of Abraham seeing His day; they
took it of His seeing Abraham's day, and challenged its
possibility. Whether or not they intended thus to elicit an
avowal of His claim to eternal duration, and hence to Divinity,
it was not time any longer to forbear the full statement, and,
with Divine emphasis, He spake the words which could not be
mistaken: 'Verily, verily, I say unto you, before Abraham was, I
AM.'

It was as if they had only waited for this. Furiously they rushed
from the Porch into the Court of the Gentiles - with symbolic
significance, even in this - to pick up stones, and to cast them
at Him. But, once more, His hour had not yet come, and their fury
proved impotent. Hiding Himself for the moment, as might so
easily be done, in one of the many chambers, passages, or
gateways of the Temple, He presently passed out.

It had been the first plain disclosure and avowal of His
Divinity, and it was 'in the midst of His enemies,' and when most
contempt was cast upon Him. Presently would that avowal be
renewed both in Word and by Deed; for 'the end' of mercy and
judgment had not yet come, but was drawing terribly nigh.

                       ...............

TO BE CONTINUED WITH JOHN CHAPTER NINE


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