“The Jews answered him, “Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?” 49 “I am not possessed by a demon,” said Jesus, “but I honor my Father and you dishonor me. 50 I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. 51 Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.” 52 At this they exclaimed, “Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that whoever obeys your word will never taste death. 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?” John 8.48-53
Jesus was facing a lot of opposition. Gone were the veiled threats against him. Now we see open hostilities made to his face. Insults were flying off the lips of the Jews who called him a “Samaritan” (intended as an insult) and “demon-possessed.”
Jesus doesn’t run from these attacks. Unlike when he is facing Pontus Pilate at the moment of his arrest and on his way to the cross, Jesus is defending, teaching, instructing, preaching. The Lord is not backing down from those who insult and dishonor him. He says in his defense, “I honor my Father and you dishonor me. I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge.”
The Jews did not know the Father. They were worshipping, praying, fasting, obeying and making sacrifices to a God but they did not know him. They continue to attack him by saying he is demon-possessed and are appalled that he would compare himself to Abraham. Yet in the midst of the attacks Jesus is still offering hope, life and a way to the Father as he says, “Whoever obeys my word will never see death.”
What does it mean to “never see death?” Does it mean we will not die physically? Or that we will remain spiritually one with the Father and Jesus in heaven? I think what Jesus was offering, and why he was so insistent, is that he did not want God’s people to die and be separated for eternity from God. Even while he was being called names, filled with demons and being insulted with “Who do you think you are??” Jesus was still offering life, salvation and peace.
If you happen to read your news online or on the television, it doesn’t take long to realize the disaster our world has become. Death, killings, theft, stealing, adultery, lying, defamation and gluttony just to name a few. This what the devil has done with the world. Yet in the midst of the storm, the Lord is near! He is offering a life-preserver to anyone who will believe in the Son for “he who has the Son has life, but he who does not have the Son does not have life,” (1 John 5.12).
Don’t give up hope. Like Jesus when faced with persecution, distress and spiritual attacks, hold fast to the hope! “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.”
Hope in Christ. Lean into his love. Cling to the Cross. Trust in the One who can recuse you from the penalty of sin and death.
“O Lord God, I read the news, I see the mess our world is in and ask “When will you return?” Can you come soon to save us? Help us spread your message of hope and salvation so all people can spend eternity with you. I praise you Lord for the power of your world and the light that shines in the darkness. I thank you for the love of the Cross and for your blood that was shed for me. Come now, Holy Spirit, fill me with your grace. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen