Study Guide

Gospel of John Chapter 8

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Chapter 8

Girl Gone Wild

  • Jesus returns again to the temple and the people all gather to hear what he has to say. But the religious authorities decide to set a trap for him. Come on guys—this better be good.
  • They bring in a woman who has been caught committing adultery and explain that the law (Deuteronomy 22:22) requires that they stone her. That means they get to beat her to death with heavy rocks—pretty gruesome.
  • The religious authorities want to know what Jesus thinks they should do.
  • Some scholars think that the Romans might have forbidden the Jewish people from putting anyone to death, which, if that's right, means that Jesus is now caught in a pretty tough Catch-22: If Jesus says the woman should be stoned, he'll be rejecting Roman law. If he says that she shouldn't be stoned, then he'll be rejecting Jewish law (source, p. 965). Hmmm, looks like a no-win situation.
  • But Jesus is much too smart to be tricked by these guys. Instead of responding to their questions, he says nothing and bends down to write on the ground. When in doubt, stall for time.
  • The religious authorities aren't having it. They keep questioning Jesus about the woman.
  • Finally, Jesus stands up and tells them, "Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." So, go ahead, throw a rock. He dares you.
  • After they hear his answer, the religious authorities leave one by one, until no one is left standing there but Jesus and the woman. That's what you get for messing with the Messiah.
  • Jesus asks her if there is anyone left to condemn her.
  • Nope. They're standing there all alone, so the woman tells him that everyone who accused her is gone.
  • Jesus replies that he won't condemn her either and that she should go on her way and not sin again. 
  • Lawyered.

Jesus, the Light

  • Jesus speaks to the crowd again. They seem to have magically reappeared even though we were just told that everyone left.
  • He tells the crowd that he is "the light of the world." If anyone follows him, they will be constantly illuminated with life instead of following the dark path that leads to evil. Light = good. Dark = bad. Got it.
  • But the religious authorities, who also swooped back in, tell him that he's just talking about himself—that means what he says isn't true. You can't witness to yourself, can you?
  • Too bad the religious authorities have no idea what they're talking about. Jesus knows where he's been and where he's going, but these guys have no clue.
  • The religious authorities judge people by human standards, but Jesus doesn't judge anyone. But, if he did judge, he would totally have every right to, being that he's been sent by his Father (capital F!).
  • When the religious elite hear Jesus calling God "Father" again, they want to know where Jesus's father is.
  • But Jesus tells them that they don't know him or his Father. If they did, they wouldn't be asking such stupid questions.
  • Jesus says all this in the temple, but no one tries to arrest him there. But we're guessing the religious authorities aren't very happy with the verbal spanking they just got.

So Long, Farewell

  • Jesus explains again that soon he's going to be gone. Non-believers will look for him, but they won't find him. Instead, they'll die weighted down by their own sin. Yikes.
  • The people worry that Jesus is talking about committing suicide.
  • Jesus repeats again that he is from heaven and will be returning there, while those who refuse to believe in him will die in sin. Whoa, we get it. The wages of sin is death. Ease up a little.
  • The people are confused and ask Jesus who he is. Seriously guys?
  • This makes Jesus wonder why he even tries talking to these people—they clearly don't seem to get it. He explains, yet again, that when he's gone, they'll realize who he is. Don't hold your breath, Jesus.
  • Lots of people start to jump on the believers' bandwagon after they hear this comment.
  • Jesus tells the Jewish people who believe in him that if they continue following him, they are his disciples and will be set free by the truth of God. So… they're in.
  • The people counter that they are not slaves and so they can't be set free. Guys, ever heard of a metaphor?
  • Jesus explains that anyone who sins is a slave to sin. A slave doesn't have his or her own room in the big house, but the master's son has a room there. If the master's son frees these slaves, they will always be free. Behold, the awesome power of metaphor.

Who's Your Daddy?

  • Jesus also reminds the crowd that some of them have been trying to get him killed. Not cool. It also doesn't help if they want to get in good with God.
  • The people tell him that Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, is actually their father. Can we get a paternity test?
  • Jesus reminds them that if they were really Abraham's children, they wouldn't be trying to have him killed. The only crime he has committed is telling the truth. Abraham wouldn't be very happy about his children's behavior.
  • The people change their mind. They decide that they're actually children of God. Okay, just call Maury already.
    Jesus replies that if God were really their Father, they would love him, but instead they follow a different father—the father of lies (a.k.a. the devil). Zing.

Enhanced Interrogation

  • The religious authorities try to insult Jesus by saying that he must be a Samaritan who is possessed by some kind of demon. Hey, who you calling a Samaritan?
  • But Jesus swats down their schoolyard taunts. He isn't possessed by demons. He only wants to honor what God wants, but people keep bullying him. Don't worry, Jesus, they'll be pumping your gas someday. Or maybe not…
  • Jesus tells them again that if they believe in him, they will not experience death. A pretty good deal.
  • Now the religious authorities are sure that he's been possessed. After all, everyone dies. Even Abraham died, they tell him. Jesus doesn't think he's greater than Abraham, does he? Just who does Jesus think he is?
  • Jesus replies that if he is glorious, then it's because God is glorious. Clearly, the religious authorities would know this if they truly knew God. He also tells them that Abraham is overjoyed that he has come. So there.
  • The religious authorities are starting to get annoyed. Jesus isn't old enough to have ever seen or talked to Abraham. Liar, liar pants on fire!
  • But Jesus tells them that he existed before Abraham, echoing God who, in Exodus, calls himself "I am." Oh, it just got real.
  • This completely sets the religious authorities over the edge. They start hurling rocks at Jesus and he has to run out of the temple and hide from them. 
  • What can we say? Jesus just loves to stir up a crowd.

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