14. Background

Short Meditations in John 8:  14. Background

Jn 8:14   Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going.

There is a slight sense of deja-vu here because this subject of testimony came up previously in chapter 5 where Jesus had said, “For the works that the Father has given me to finish—the very works that I am doing—testify that the Father has sent me,” (Jn 5:36) but there it had come in his general teaching, admittedly after he had been challenged over healing on the Sabbath.

But John, writing many decades later than the Synoptic writers, was concerned to show who Jesus really was and he did it again and again by appealing to the evidence or, to be more precise, to the testimonies that shed light on who Jesus was. He uses the word testimony fourteen times in his Gospel. John the Baptist testified, “I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.” (Jn 1:34) Later Jesus said, “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me.” (Jn 5:39) Later he will say, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me.” (Jn 10:25) Later still, referring to the Holy Spirit, he declared, “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me.” (Jn 15:26) Before Pilate he said, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth.” (Jn 18:37)

But in this present passage we find something different. Jesus says his testimony – his own testimony on his own behalf  – is valid, not because of what anyone else says about him but simply because what he says is true. He speaks the truth and he knows who he is. They may not like that but that does not make his testimony about himself any the less true.

Then he says something strange, something in fact that he has referred to before: “I know where I came from.” Back in chapter 6 we saw him refer to himself as the bread that has come down from heaven and he repeats that assertion a number of times in that chapter, for example, “I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.” (Jn 6:38) But his antagonists choose not to remember that because it does point to who he truly claims to be. But he also adds, “I know … where I am going”. Several times he warned his disciples what would eventually happen in Jerusalem (Mt 16:21, 17:22,23, 20:17-19) and his final destination (Jn 13:1,3, 14:2,28, 16:10). Oh yes, Jesus knew who he was!

Application: The world ‘behind’ Jesus, heaven and the presence of the Father, were all important to Jesus. Is it the same with me? Am I constantly referring myself, my thoughts, my desires, back to Him? Am I heaven orientated?

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