Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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Some of the most bitter, hurtful words that were ever hurled at the gentle Savior were hurled at him from the lips of those who believed he was the Messiah. This unexpected reality is evidence of the horrible spiritual condition of fallen man. Even when we as sinners come to realize that a thing is good and holy, we cannot in our own strength treat it with the honor that it deserves. When people in Jerusalem confessed that they believed on Jesus, the Lord knew that he could not trust them (Jn. 2:23-25). He understood that without God’s Spirit they did not, and we do not, have the strength to be faithful to what is true.
From the following portion of Scripture from John 8, consider the evidence, and remember that this scene deals with Jews who had come to believe that Jesus was the Savior, sent from God.
As he was saying these things, many believed on him. Then Jesus said to the Jews who believed him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
They replied to him, “We are Abraham’s seed, and we have never been slaves to anyone. How can you say, ‘You shall be free’?”
Jesus answered them, “I tell you that everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin.... If the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed. I know that you are Abraham’s seed; but you are seeking to kill me because my word has no place in you. I am saying things I have seen from the Father; and in turn, you do the things you have heard from your father.”
They answered and said to him, “Our father is Abraham.” Jesus said to them, “If you were children of Abraham, you would do the works of Abraham. But now you are seeking to kill me, a man who has told you the truth which I heard from God; Abraham did not do this. You are doing the works of your father.”
They said to him, “We have not been born of fornication. We have one father, God.”
Jesus said to them, “If God was your father, you would love me, for I descended from God and am here; for I have not come of myself, but He himself sent me. Why do you not understand my speech? Because you are not able to hear my word. You are of your father the Devil, and you are willing to do your father’s desires. That one was a murderer from the beginning, and he has not stood firm in the truth because truth is not in him. Whenever he tells a lie, he speaks from his own things because he is a liar and the father of it. But because I tell you the truth, you do not believe me. Who among you convicts me of sin? If I am speaking truth, why do you not believe me? He who is of God hears God’s words; this is why you do not hear because you are not of God.”
The Jews answered and said to him, “Do we not rightly say that you are a Samaritan and you have a demon?”
Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father but you dishonor me. I am not seeking glory for myself; there is One who is seeking and judging. Amen, amen, I say to you, should anyone keep my word, he will never see death, ever.”
Then the Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon. Abraham died and the prophets, and you, you are saying, ‘If anyone keep my word he shall never taste of death, ever.’ You are not greater, are you, than our father Abraham who died? And the prophets who died. Whom do you make yourself?”
Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing; my Father is the one who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ Nevertheless, you have not known Him, but I know Him. And if I say that I do not know Him, I will be a liar like you. But I know Him, and I am keeping His word. Abraham, your father, was overjoyed that he should see my day, and he saw it and he rejoiced.”
Then the Jews said to him, “You have not yet lived fifty years, and you have seen Abraham?”
Jesus said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”
At this the Jews took up stones to throw at him. But Jesus was hidden, and he went out from the temple.
The people who in John 8:48 said that Jesus was demon-possessed were among those who in John 8:30 believed in him. The people who in John 8:59 were intent on stoning Jesus were among those who in John 8:30 believed in him. They had been convinced by his miracle power that he was the Messiah, but when that Messiah spoke words they did not want to hear, they decided he was demon-possessed and deserved death.
There are many millions today who believe that Jesus is Lord, but how many can really hear from him without becoming angry and hating his messenger? If Jesus were to send a man to tell his people that the religion of Christianity is an abomination to him and that the Father wants all His people to come out of that religion, how many of them would condemn Jesus’ messenger as being of the Devil?
Believing that Jesus is Lord is good, but it is only a start. James said that demons themselves believe but that “faith without works is dead.” The writer of Hebrews told us that Jesus “became the author of eternal salvation” not to those who merely believe he is Lord but “to those who obey him.” And Jesus, the greatest authority on the matter, said, “Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Simply believing that Jesus is Lord will not save anyone.
Once, when the disciples confessed their faith in Jesus, he, knowing what he had yet to teach them and knowing how that truth would challenge their faith, asked them, “Do you now believe?” The unasked question was “But will you be able to believe after I tell you the truth?” Jesus also has truth to teach us, and some of the truth that he has not yet revealed may seem to be evil when we hear it. Knowing that possibility, we should pray now, while we still believe and before he speaks his next word, for grace from God to be able to bear the holy truth that we do not know and that Jesus will at some point send someone to tell us.