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(John 8:20–59) The Absolute Truth

(John 8:20–59) The Absolute Truth

by Stephen Davey
Series: Sermons in John
Ref: John 8:20–59

Pilate once asked Jesus, What is Truth? He didn't realize he was staring the answer straight in the face! As Stephen reminds us in this message, Truth isn't just about propositions . . . it's about a Person.



                        (John 8:20-59)

Following World War II, there were more than 200 Frenchmen who returned to Paris suffering from amnesia.  They had been prisoners in Japanese prison camps and had suffered through a horrible ordeal of privation and torture.  These men had been so psychologically devastated by their imprisonment that they lost the conscious awareness of who they were and where they had come from.  In most cases, their identities were quickly established from Red Cross records or with the help of fellow prisoners.  But after all known efforts were exhausted, there were still 32 men whose identities seemed impossible to ascertain.  There seemed to be no records of them nor anyone who knew anything about them.  The doctors who were treating these 32 men believed that their chances for recovery would be impossible unless they were connected with their friends and relatives.  Someone proposed publishing photographs of the men on the front page of newspapers throughout the country and giving a date and time when anyone having information about any of these amnesia victims should come to the Paris Opera House.  The plan was accepted; newspapers all around France published the pictures of these men and gave the date when the Paris Opera House would open its doors for potential reconciliations. On the assigned day and time, a huge crowd had gathered inside the opera house to view these war veterans.  Every seat was taken - in a dramatic moment, the first of the amnesia victims walked onto the stage of the darkened opera house, stood in the spotlight and slowly turned completely around so that everyone could get a full view of them.  Before the hushed audience, he, as well as the other 31 who followed asked the pleading question, "Does anybody out there know who I am?"

Isn't that the primary question of humanity - does anybody know who I am?

Ladies and gentlemen, I am convinced that you and I are unable to really live until we've discovered the answer; "Just who are we anyhow?"

At the same time our society is more confused than ever - it has terrible case of self-imposed amnesia.

In the record by John, chapter 8, Jesus Christ will step to center stage and in the most frank, hard hitting expressions ever recorded, He will tell us who we are. . .and He will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. 

Now Jesus' answer is a "bad news, good news" answer. . .John, what would you like to hear first?  Let's start with the bad news!


With three different expressions, Jesus will tell us who we are. 

1) we are sinners under the sentence of death.

8:20.  These words He spoke in the treasury, as He taught in the temple; and no one seized Him, because His hour had not yet come.

21.  He said therefore again to them, "I go away, and you shall seek Me, and shall die in your sin; where I am going you cannot come.  skip to verse 24.  "I said therefore to you, that you shall die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you shall die in your sins."

Did you catch the three times Jesus pounded into his hearers minds, "You shall die in your sins."

21b - "you shall die in your sins...24a - "you shall die in your sins;"  24b - you shall die in your sins."

No punches withheld - Jesus is telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. 

Would you believe that there is a group of people that number in the thousands who believe that they will never physically die.  The Communications Center published a quote from Cullen Murphy's article in the Atlantic, Jan. 1993.

            READ FROM PAPER

I'm sorry!  You can celebrate all you want - you happen to be celebrating something that just isn't true!

"It is appointed unto man once to die and after that the judgment"

Hebrews 9:27.  WHY?!

Becuase, "The payment for sin is death".  Romans 6:23

We are sinners under the sentence of physical death!

That's the absolute truth!

In 1984, the Dallas Mavericks, which we were all following closely who lived in the Dallas area at the time was playing in a crucial playoff game against the heavily favored Lakers.  It had come down to the last 6 seconds.  It's was Dallas' possession.  Derek Harper was the point gaurd and he thought his team was ahead by one point.  So when he got the ball he dribbled the final six seconds off the clock and then began to jump up and down celebrating their victory. . .until his teamates rushed up to him screaming that the game was tied 108-108 and he had just thrown away their opportunity to win the game with a final shot.  They went into overtime and the Dallas Mavericks lost the game.

Now Derek Harper was celebrating and would have gone on celebrating with ecstacy. . .someone just came up to him and told him the truth.

Jesus looks at his audience of Jewish leaders who were at that moment celebrating their physical descendance from Abraham.  They were proud of their position in life and were convinced that they had inherited God's blessing.

Jesus says to them - and to us!  "Here's the truth - you're sinners and you are under the sentence of death."

It only gets worse friends. . .the second thing Jesus informs us of is that . . .

2) we are slaves under the stranglehold of sin.

Let's skip ahead to verse 34.  Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin."

Jesus says, "Here's the absolute truth - truly, truly I say to you - becuase you've committed sin you now belong to sin.  You are not free - you are a slave to your sinful nature"

Now, just in case you don't think you're sinners Jesus adds in verse 37.  "I know that you are Abraham's offspring; yet you seek to kill Me...and that's a sin by the way."

Now Christ illustrates his point in verse 35.  And the slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever.

Now his illustration doesn't mean as much to us today - so let me tag on an illustration to His.

As a graduate student I did a lot of interesting things called part time jobs.  One of them was to run errands for a rather prosperous Commercial real estate firm in North Dallas.  One afternoon, after classes, I arrived at the office complex and the president of the company pulled me aside, handed me the keys to his car and said, "Listen I want you to take this over and have some things done to it at the dealership."  Now his car was a brand new Mercedes Sports Coup - a hard top convertible, white with blue trim. . .I saw an ad for one of them recently and the price tag was over $100,000.   I slipped rather gingerly into the drivers seat - praying, "Lord, I can't afford to put one scratch...please part the traffic and get me back without incident."

I pulled carefully out of the parking lot, eased onto the parkway; then I noticed something - as people drove by they stared at me - covetously.  I pulled up to a red light and people on both sides of me looked longingly at the car - then at me.   So I sort of settled back in my seat - fixed the rear view mirror - picked up the car telephone; I could get used to this.  Now, my boss had also asked me to fill the car up with gas - so I was looking for a real busy gas station with a lot of people.  Found one - pulled in, got out - this guy next to me said, "Wow, that is really nice"  I said, "Thanks".  "How long you had it"  "Oh about 10 minutes. . .see, it's not mine, it's my bosses car."  He said, "Oh phhhhh."

It was fun for a moment acting as if that belonged to me - or better yet, that I belonged behind the wheel. . .but the truth was far different that the appearance - I was a hired servant; an errand boy who didn't own one shiny inch of that car.

The Jews were walking around proud about their assumption they would live in the house - that is, they were members of God's family since they were related to Abraham.

Jesus says to them - "you aren't spiritual sons, you are slaves to sin"  and just as a slave may live for the moment in the masters house, he's not part of the family - he has no right to the family fortune.  That isn't his house!  And if the masters wants to, he can sell the slave, fire the slave, imprison the slave, kick the slave out of the house.   A slave isn't gauranteed a future.  Only a "son" has a right to call the house "his".

And a son of God cannot be a slave to sin.

Now you'll notice here in these verses that Jesus uses a word that is disappearing from the English vocabulary - it's the three letter, "s" word, sin.  It appears 8 times in this passage.

The truth, Jesus says, is that humanity is held captive by sin!

We've replaced the "s" word today with a variety of words - John MacAurthur most recent publication is a book entitled, "The Vanishing Conscience"  in which he explains that sin and it's accompnying guilt has become public enemy #1.

He writes, "These days everything wrong with humanity is likely to be explained as an illness, an addiction, a result of some pre-existing disability.  What we used to call sin is more easily diagnosed as a whole array of disabilities.  All kinds of immoraility and evil conduct are now identified as symptoms of this or that disorder. 

Modern culture has created a new gospel - man is not a sinner, but a victim.

Author Charles Sykes says that America has become a nation of Victims and whining has become the national anthem.

A man who was shot and paralyzed while committing a burglary in New York sued the store owner who shot him.  His attorney told a jury that the man was first of all a victim of society, driven to crime by economic disadvantages.  now, the lawyer said, he is a victim of the insensitivity of the man who shot him.  Becuase of the store owner's callour disregard of the thief's plight as a victim, the criminal will be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life.  He deserves some redress.  The jury agreed.  The store owner paid a large settlement.  Several months later, the same man, still in his wheelchair, was arrested while committing another armed robbery.

And the FBI agent who was fired after he embezzled two thousand dollars, then gambled it away in a single afternoon at a casino.  Later he sued, aruguing taht his gamling addiction was a disability, so being fired was an act of illegal discrimination.  He won the case! 

The most outrageous case created the famous, "Twinkie Defense".  A San Francisco city supervisor claimed murdered a fellow supervisor and the Mayor.  He then claimed that he murdered the men becuase he had been eating too much junk food - especially Hostess Twinkies (this is scary; I eat a twinkie just about every day).  A jury bought the line and produced a verdict of voluntary manslaughter rather than murder.  They ruled that the junk food resulted in "diminished mental capacity," which reduced the killer's guilt.  he was out of prison before the Mayor's term would have been completed.

One author, not a believer has written, "Victimism has so infected our culture than one might even say the victim has become the very mascot of modern society."

You know why it's so popular a movement?  There's no personal guilt - "I am sick is much easier to say than, "I have sinned."

But here's the problem.  If you can't say, "I have sinned - no one else is at fault but me, the sinner, then you can't repent; and if you can't repent you , you don't need a savior.  You haven't done anything wrong - it's someone else' fault.

The Apostle John wrote, "If we confess our sins - not our excuses - our sins - He then is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

Jesus says, "here's the absolute truth - we are sinners under the sentence of death; we are slaves under the strangle hold of sin;

The Jews respond vehemently, 39.  ...Abraham is our father."  Jesus said to them,  "If you are Abraham's children, do the deed os Abraham.  40.  But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do.  41.  You are doing the deeds of your father."  Now notice their insulting response.  They said to Him, "We were not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God."

Early on, the Jews had started a rumor that Mary had been unfaithful to Joseph during their engagement and that she had been a Roman soldier named Panthera - and that Jesus was the result of that fornication.

In other words, the Jewish leaders spitefully proudly say, "Who do you think you are to tell us about Jewish descent - we know who our ancestors are. . .in fact, notice the last part of verse 41. Our Father is God himself!

Now they've gone too far . . . and in the strongest expression yet, Jesus informs them and us that. . .

3) we are sons and daughters under the sway of our Father Satan.

John 8:42.  Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love Me; for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me..  43.  Why do you not understand what I am saying?  It is becuase you cannot hear My word.why? Becuase you are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father.  He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, becuase there is no truth in him.  Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar, and the father of lies.  45.  But becuase I speak the truth, you do not believe Me.  46.  Which one of you convicts Me of sin?  If I speak truth, why do you not beleive Me?  47.  He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, becuase you are not of God.


This must has sent the religious leaders into shock.  Jesus just told them that God wasn't their father. . .their father was the Devil.

I John 3 refers to the children of God and the children of the devil.  Jesus says, "I want to tell you the truth - and I've got bad news for you - you, every member of the human race, have been born into the wrong family.  That's the bad news; the good news is there is a way to be reborn into the right family.  You've got to change your family name, if you want to live in heaven forever.

W.C. Fields was old, sick and near death.  This vocal unbeliever was confined to a hospital bed.  One day his wife, making an unexpected visit to him, found him reading the Bible.  "W.C!" she said with great surprise.  "I can't believe you're reading the Bible.  What's gotten into you?"  Fields, shot back in his cryptic voice, "I'm just looking for loopholes my dear. . .looking for loopholes."

The truth is - their are no loopholes - and that's the bad news.  

But, I've got good news for you - and that is the truth about Christ.


            He is the genuine source of truth - v. 32

            31.  Jesus therefore was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, "If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth.

            The truth - is everything God has ever said or done. 

David wrote, "Thy law is truth."  He also wrote, "Thy judgments are truth."

The manual then for absolute truth is the living Word and the written Word of God.

The reason absolute truth no longer exists on the campus of a university; the reason right and wrong is determined by the popular polls; the reason our society is unbelievably confused and is at this moment asking, "Does anybody really know who we are?"

Is becuase we have set aside the manual on truth.

The truth begins with Christ!  Jesus said, "I am the way, I am the truth, I am the life."

But there's more good news:

Secondly, Jesus is the liberating Savior of captives - v. 36

            Listen to Paul in 2 Timothy expand this thought - 2:25.  ..."perhaps God may grant them who oppose the truth, repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will."

He also wrote, This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Mankind needs a Savior - a liberator - a redeemer!  There's only one person who can do all of that for us...that leads me to the climactic declaration of Jesus that He is the timeless Son of God.

            He is the timeless Son of God - v. 58

They picked up stones to kill him - by the way, they're still throwing stones at him today.

Newsweek recently published a large section of lies about Jesus -they always seem to get free press.  The article reported on the Jesus Seminar - a group of 77 Biblical scholars who get together once a year to vote on what Jesus really said, what He really did and whether or not He was who He said He was.

By the way, they recently met and voted on the Lord's prayer.  You know, "Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name";  come to find out the only thing they could unanimously agree that Jesus actually prayed were the words, "Our Father".

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