Short Meditations in John 8: 16. Supported Judgment
Jn 8:16 But if I do judge, my decisions are true, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me.
Every now and then I hear people muttering about the contradictions within the Bible and I am saddened at either their ignorance of the truth of what is there or their inability to think through what they are reading. Now I say this because in the previous verse we read Jesus saying, I pass judgment on no one but now we find him saying, “if I do judge” which seems to imply that sometimes he does.
To speak of a contradiction here misses the point of what Jesus is saying. The context here is created by v.14 where Jesus spoke of where he came from and he was alluding to heaven as we saw in chapter 6. His point now is that because he has come from heaven, sent by the Father, he refers everything to the Father and whenever he does decide something it is because of the Father’s leading and the Father’s will.
Back in chapter 5 we read Jesus first of all saying, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” (v.17) implying a closeness, which is then detailed when he says, “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” (v.19) i.e. the Father leads the way by His Spirit and so everything we see Jesus doing is because he is responding to the leading of the Spirit. He adds, “For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does.” (v.20) This is the context for Jesus’ present words.
Taking verses 15 and 16 together we take Jesus to mean, I make no judgements, no decisions on my own. All I do I do at the Father’s behest and so any decisions I do make are true and accurate because it’s not just me, “I am not alone”, they come from the Father.
Again and again Jesus makes comment about his closeness to the Father, for example, “I and the Father are one,” (Jn 10:30) and, “know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father,” (Jn 10:38) and, “the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken,” (Jn 12:49) and, “whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say,” (Jn 12:50) (Note how these last two verses apply to our present context.) and “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” (Jn 14:9) In fact the word Father comes up 109 times in John’s Gospel, most of which apply to the Father in heaven.
Thus when Jesus makes comments, makes statements, makes decisions, makes judgments, they are all in accord and in harmony with the Father as the Father leads and inspires him, and the will of heaven is expressed on earth. Hallelujah!
Application: When questions arise in my mind about other people, do I turn to God, pray, ask for His wisdom, insight and understanding so I do not make casual and careless assessments of others?