Bias May Become
Before It Becomes
John chapter 8 represents a pivotal point in the relationship between Jesus and the Pharisees. It wasn’t the last time Jesus spoke to them or responded to their questions but it does record one of the longest single conversations Jesus had with the religious leaders in Jerusalem. And it didn’t end well.
It took place about 29 AD which means Jesus was approximately two-thirds into His three-year public ministry. The Pharisees had argued and debated with Jesus for two years and even talked about killing Him.
Things were escalating. In the end of John 8, they attempted to stone Him.
There is very little new content in this chapter. Apart from the opening few verses (the woman caught in adultery), the issues had been mentioned before.
The Pharisees complained in chapter eight that Jesus had no evidence for what He claimed. They knew this wasn’t true. Everyone else knew this wasn’t true and Jesus did respond to their accusations but one of the most important statements He made was to those who believed. What He said has inspired and stimulated thought ever since.
You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free. (John 8:32)
But getting back to the Pharisees, just to show how misleading their claim was, following are the many times and ways Jesus was attested to. All the references are from the Gospel of John.
- John Baptist said He was the light of every person, 1:8. This is critical because everyone recognized John Baptist as a prophet, even the Pharisees. They didn’t like him but they couldn’t deny he was a prophet.
- John Baptist also said Jesus was at the Father’s side, 1:18.
- Jesus did many miracles in Jerusalem, 2:23. These miracles happened following the cleansing of the Temple and in response to the Pharisees request for a sign of His authority to clean the temple (v. 18). It was these miracles that prompted Nicodemus to confess, “We know you are a teacher come from God.” (3:2)
- John Baptist also said God has placed all power in the hands of Jesus, 3:35.
- Jesus referred to John Baptist as a witness to Him, 5:31-35.
- He reminds the Pharisees that His miracles are a witness, 5:36.
- Scriptures are a witness to Jesus, 5:39.
- Moses was a witness, 5:45-46.
- Crowds were a witness (they wanted to make Him King), 6:14-15.
- His ability to teach was a witness, 7:15, 46.
- Logical arguments were a witness, 7:21-24. Jesus compared His healing of a man on the Sabbath to the Pharisees custom of circumcising on the Sabbath.
In spite of so much evidence, the Pharisees still insisted there was nothing to back up the testimony of Jesus.
How The Pharisees Responded
In spite of the evidence, the Pharisees’ responses are dismissive, defensive and sarcastic.
- They accuse Jesus of self-promotion.
- They asked where Jesus’ father was, even though they knew that no one had seen God.
- They asked if He was planning to commit suicide.
- They asked Him who He was, a question that had been asked and answered many times.
- They assumed they weren’t in bondage.
- They claimed Abraham as their father, as if that made them privileged.
- Then they claimed God as their father.
- They call Jesus a demon-possessed Samaritan.
- They deny eternal life.
- They claimed Abraham could never have known of Jesus since he was long dead before Jesus came.
- They attemtp to stone Jesus.
The Pharisees were clearly being obstinant. There was no open discussion or respectful debate. They weren’t asking questions or sincerely seeking answers. They were not offering rational arguments. Their intent was to cause trouble. Every effort to discredit Jesus had failed and the frustration bled through.