Jesus Warns The Unbelieving People That They Will Die In Their Sins
Further conversation with the Jews, in which Jesus warns them that He will not be long with them, and that unless they believe they will die in their sins. They will know that His witness is true after they have crucified Him.
Later Jesus said to them again, “I am going away. You will search for me but will die in your sin. You cannot come where I am going.”
John 8:21 (NLT)
Jesus had already mentioned His leaving them (John 7:34), but the Jews had misunderstood what He said. Once again, He warned them: He would leave them, they would not be able to follow Him, and they would die in their sins! You will die unpardoned, and as you did not seek me where you might find me, you cannot come where I shall be. Observe,
- All those who reject the Lord Jesus must die unforgiven. There is no way of pardon but by him. Acts 4:12.
- There will be a time when sinners will seek for a Savior but will find none. Often this is done too late, in a dying moment, and in the future world they may seek a deliverer, but not be able to find one.
- Those who reject the Lord Jesus must perish. Where he is they cannot come. Where he is is heaven. Where he is not, with his favor and mercy, there is hell; and the sinner that has no Savior must be wretched forever.
They were wasting their God-given opportunities by arguing with Him instead of trusting Him; and one day soon, their opportunities would end.
Those that live in unbelief, are for ever undone, if they die in unbelief. The Jews belonged to this present evil world, but Jesus was of a heavenly and Divine nature, so that his doctrine, kingdom, and blessings, would not suit their taste. But the curse of the law is done away to all that submit to the grace of the gospel. Nothing but the doctrine of Christ’s grace will be an argument powerful enough, and none but the Spirit of Christ’s grace will be an agent powerful enough, to turn us from sin to God; and that Spirit is given, and that doctrine is given, to work upon those only who believe in Christ.
So the Jewish leaders began to say, “Perhaps he is going to kill himself, because he says, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’”
John 8:22 (NET)
Once again, the people misunderstood His teaching. They thought He was planning to kill Himself. Suicide was an abhorrent thing to a Jew, for the Jews were taught to honor all life. If Jesus committed suicide, then He would go to a place of judgment; and this, they reasoned, was why they could not follow Him.
Jesus: You originate from the earth below, and I have come from the heavens above. You are from this world, and I am not. That’s why I told you that you will die here as a result of your sins. Unless you believe I am who I have said I am, your sins will lead to your death.
John 8:23-24 (VOICE)
Jesus was returning to His Father in heaven, and nobody can go there who has not trusted the Savior. The reason Jesus and the Jewish leaders were going to different destinations was because they had different origins: Jesus came from heaven, but they belonged to the earth. Jesus was in the world, but He did not belong to the world.
We see here how difficult it is to excite wicked men to the contemplation of heavenly things. They interpret all things in a low and corrupt sense, and suppose all others to be governed, as they are themselves.
The true believer has his citizenship in heaven (Luke 10:20; Phil. 3:20-21). His affection and attention are fixed heavenward. But the unsaved belong to this world; in fact, Jesus called them “the children of this world” (Luke 16:8). Since they have not trusted Christ and had their sins forgiven, their destiny is to die in their sins. The Christian dies “in the Lord” because he lives “in the Lord” (Rev. 14:13); but the unbeliever dies in his sins because he lives in his sins.
They said to him, “Just who are you anyway?”
Jesus said, “What I’ve said from the start. I have so many things to say that concern you, judgments to make that affect you, but if you don’t accept the trustworthiness of the One who commanded my words and acts, none of it matters. That is who you are questioning—not me but the One who sent me.”
John 8:25-26 (MSG)
It seems incredible that these religious “experts” should ask,
“Who are You?”
He had given them every evidence that He is the Son of God, yet they had deliberately rejected the evidence. Our Lord’s reply may be expressed, “I am exactly what I said!” In other words,
“Why should I teach you new things, or give you new proof, when you have not honestly considered the witness I have already given?”
Jesus boldly made several claims to deity (John 8:26). He said He would judge, and judgment (to the Jews) belonged only to God. He claimed to be sent by God, and He claimed to have heard from God the things that He taught.
How did the religious leaders respond to these clear affirmations of deity?
They did not understand! God reveals His truth to the “babes” and not to the “wise and prudent” (Luke 10:21).
But they still didn’t understand that he was talking about his Father.
So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man on the cross, then you will understand that I AM he. I do nothing on my own but say only what the Father taught me. And the one who sent me is with me—he has not deserted me. For I always do what pleases him.”
John 8:27-29 (NLT)
Now Jesus spoke about His own death, when He would be “lifted up” on the cross (John 3:14; 12:32). The word translated “lifted up” has a dual meaning: “lifted up in crucifixion,” and “lifted up in exaltation and glorification.” Jesus often combined the two, for He saw His crucifixion in terms of glory and not just suffering (John 12:23; 13:30-31; 17:1). This same combination of “suffering and glory” is repeated in Peter’s first letter.
It would be in His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension that Jesus would be revealed to the Jewish nation. This was the message Peter preached at Pentecost (Acts 2), not only the death of Jesus but also His resurrection and exaltation to glory. Even a Roman soldier, beholding the events at Golgotha would confess, “Truly this Man was the Son of God” (Mark 15:39). The early church, following the example of their Lord (Luke 24:25-27), would show from the Old Testament prophecies both the sufferings and the glory of the Messiah.
Jesus made two more stupendous claims: not only was He sent by the Father, but also the Father was with Him because He always did what pleased the Father.
If Jesus had to be God-dependent, then how much more do we need to be so?
No doubt, His enemies reacted violently to these words: but some of the listeners put their faith in Him. Whether this was true saving faith or not (see John 2:23-25), we cannot tell; but our Lord’s words to them would indicate that they knew what they were doing.
Salvation is a matter of life or death. People who live in their sins and reject the Savior must die in their sins. There is no alternative. We either receive salvation by grace or experience condemnation under God’s Law. We either walk in the light and have eternal life, or walk in the darkness and experience eternal death.
WHOSE CHILD ARE YOU?
There is no record that Jesus ever called the publicans and sinners “children of the devil.” He reserved that title for the hypocritical Pharisees. By nature, we are all “children of wrath”; and by choice, we become “children of disobedience” (Eph. 2:1-3). When you receive Jesus Christ, you become a child of God (John 1:12-13). But if you reject Christ and have a false righteousness (Romans 9:30-10:13), you are in danger of becoming a “child of the devil,” for Satan is an imitator (2 Cor. 11:13-15). If Satan becomes your father, hell will be your home.
DECLARATION OF FAITH
I am not of this world, nor do I live according to this earthly order of things. Since I have been born from above, I live according to the spiritual order that my heavenly Father lives by.
My heavenly Father is true and trustworthy and all that He says and does. When I believe and speak His Word, it is destined to manifest itself in my life.
I continually walk in the ways of my heavenly Father and He looks upon me with tremendous joy and delight.
In everything that I do and say, I give Him glory.
It is His authority alone that I walk in and not my own.
He is ever with me, working both in and through me, to will and to do His good pleasure.
I pray this declaration of faith in Jesus’ name!