Short Meditations in John 8: 21. Ongoing provocation
Jn 8:21 Once more Jesus said to them, “I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come.”
There are times when you wonder why Jesus did not just walk away. In verse 19 we saw, “Then they asked him, “Where is your father?” “You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also,” but then we don’t see any comeback from the Jews and verse 20 could almost have been the close of this section. It almost seems like they have no answer and so are silenced. But this is Jesus’ ‘turf’ and he decides when to bring things to a close, and it is not yet! He takes further opportunity to drop further enigmatic truths before them, truths that surely they will not understand – as the following verse shows.
Now I think we see this sort of thing many times in the Gospels, Jesus speaking truths that, quite frankly, are going to leave us blinking and wondering unless he tells us more – and of course it is only his disciples, those with open, yearning hearts, who are going to ask him. Will that be you and me? We come across Scripture that leaves us wondering, so what do we do? Clearly some just grumble but the humble of heart seek the Lord further and ask and ask until they get answers. But let’s look at what he is saying.
“I am going away.” To Galilee or where? Previously he had said, “I am with you for only a short time, and then I am going to the one who sent me. You will look for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.” (Jn 7:33,34), hence the “once more” and then also he had left them hanging.
“and you will look for me.” Well that is fairly obvious; if he goes away they will want to keep tabs on him. But is that all it means? “and you will die in your sin.” Wow! What does that imply? I think it implies, “I come offering you salvation and you refuse it, so you will lose any future hope.” Now does that, I wonder, suggest that the, “and you will look for me,” refers to a time when he is not with them but they wish he was? Perhaps some of them will hear the reports of his resurrection and wish they could see him again, realizing at last, perhaps, who he was, and now regretting they had missed their chance.
“Where I go you cannot come.” We may want to go to heaven but acceptance of Jesus as the Son of God who brings God’s salvation is the only way there so if they reject him, whatever they may think, they will not get it. Lots of people think they can work their way to get God’s approval and a place in heaven but acceptance of Jesus is the only way, and so many deceived people will be disillusioned at the end!
Application: When the word seems clear, when the Spirit draws near and our heart is beating, don’t miss the opportunity that God gives. Take what He offers and give Him your heart in return.