Rev. Dick is pastor of Grace Protestant Reformed Church in Standale, Michigan.
Jesus establishes two things in this passage. The first is: He is the eternal and natural Son of God come in the flesh. The second is: the unbelieving Jews are sons of the devil.
In our study today we consider the first truth established: the sonship of Jesus.
Many things could be said of the Sonship of God the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. The Dutch theologian Herman Bavinck says this:
He (Jesus) is the Son of God . . . by nature and from eternity. He is exalted high above angels and prophets, Matt. 13:32; 21:27; 22:2; and sustains a very special relation to God, Matt. 11:27. He is the beloved Son in whom the Father is well-pleased, Matt. 3:17; 17:5; Mark 1:11; 9:7; Luke 3:22; 9:35; the only begotten Son, John 1:18; 3:16; I John 4:9ff.; God’s own Son, Rom. 8-32; the eternal Son, John 17:5, 24; Heb. 1:5; 5:5; to whom the Father gave “to have life in himself,” John 5:26; equal to the Father in knowledge, Matt. 11:27; in honor, John 5:23; in creative and redemptive power, John 1:3; 5:21, 27; in work, John 10:30; in dominion, Matt. 11:27; Luke 10:22; 22:29; John 16:15; 17:10; and because of this Sonship he was condemned to death, John 10:33; Matt. 26:63ff. (The Doctrine of God, Wm. Hendriksen, trans., p. 270).
Of course we do not propose to dwell on all the riches of this subject of the Sonship of Jesus. But let us now consider just a few things the Savior says of His Sonship in this passage.
For Study, Meditation, and Discussion
Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God
1.John 8:37-59 is remarkable for its teaching of the unique, divine Sonship of the Lord Jesus. Jesus teaches that as the Son of God He has seen things with His Father (v. 38), and heard things from His ,Father (v. 40). As Son, Jesus knows the Father .(v. 55). And as Son He has proceeded from the Father, being sent from the Father (v. 42). What does all this tell us of the relationship of the Son and the Father in the Trinity? Is the procession of Jesus from the Father the same as His being begotten of the Father? Just when did the Son proceed from the Father: in eternity? In time? Both? (Cf. passages such as Ps. 2:7; Micah 5:2; Heb. 1:5; 5:5.) Discuss this question: Was the Son in His humiliation on earth able to “see” and speak of all He had seen before when He enjoyed the glory with the Father (John 17:5)?
2.As the Son of God, Jesus is sinless. The Jews knew that if they could pin sin on Jesus they would lessen His credibility and hinder His ministry. So they did things like suggest that Jesus was born of fornication (v. 41, which is a possible interpretation of the Jews’ claiming that they were not born of fornication); label Jesus “Samaritan” (v. 48); and claim that Jesus had a devil (vv. 48,52). But Jesus, when He asks the question: “Which of you convinceth (that is: convicts”) me of sin?” is implying that it is impossible to “pin sin” on Him. And this, because He is sinless! Prove from Scripture the sinlessness of Christ. Why is the manner of Jesus’ birth (through the conception of the Holy Spirit in a virgin) important for establishing the sinlessness of Christ?
3.The Lord Jesus is the perfectly obedient Son. He has come only because Father sent Him (v. 42). He speaks and does just what Father wills Him to speak and do (vv. 38, 47). [Note: in verse 47 Jesus claims that His words are God’s words (cf. vv. 43, 45)!] He seeks not His own glory but that of the Father (vv. 49,501. And the Father honors the Son for the Son’s obedience (vv. 50, 54). Cite other passages (for example, John 5:19ff.) where Jesus. teaches this harmony between Himself and His mission and the Father’s; and where the Father honors (glorifies) the Son for the Son’s obedience (for example: John 11:4; 12:16; 13:31; 17:1, 2, 5). How can it be that though Jesus is the Son, and the perfect Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered (Heb. 5:8)?
4.God’s Son is ordained to be Messiah, the Christ, the Mediator of the covenant of redemption. As such He is the promised seed who would crush the head of the devil ‘(Gen. 3:15). He is the man-child brought forth of the woman in order to rule all .nations with a rod of iron (Rev. 12:5). He is revealed to Abraham as the seed who would come forth from his loins and as the One in and through whom all nations would be blessed (Gen. 17:7; cf. Gal. 3:16, 17; II Sam. 7:12-16; Ps. 8913, 4). Most commentators would agree that it is with reference to the Christ being the promised seed of Abraham that Jesus speaks in John 8:56 when He says: “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and the saw it, and was glad….” The question is: just what was “the day,” which Jesus says is His day that Abraham saw, and when did he see it, and how? Some think that when Jesus speaks of “my day: He is referring to when Abraham was offering up Isaac on Mt. Moriah. “Jesus’ day,” according to ‘this view, was when the lamb was given in the place of Isaac (Gen. 22) – a type of Messiah being offered in our stead. Others think that “Jesus’ day” is reference to the birth of Isaac. When .Isaac was given to Abraham in his old age Abraham rejoiced, such is the view, for Abraham was then assured that God would fulfill His promises and that from his own loins the Messiah would come. Discuss this concept of “Jesus: day.” Just how did Abraham rejoice in it, and even see it thousands of years before Christ was even born (cf. passages such as Rom. 4; Heb. ll:l-19)?
5.In John 8:58 Jesus declares to the Jews: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.” Astounding statement! Jesus by it claims equality with God! What words in the text prove this? Compare this with other Scriptures where God says the same things of Himself. How does the reaction of the Jews (v. 59) show that they believed that Jesus was claiming to be divine? How does this text (John 8:58) ground the Heidelberg Catechism’s instruction on the Sonship of Jesus (L.D. 13)?
6.The Jews were focusing on Abraham. They thought that being his (natural) sons was everything. But Jesus proves them wrong. He points to His unique, divine Sonship. He teaches His superiority to Abraham. Jesus: seed of Abraham! Jesus: God of Abraham! Our God, and Savior for ever! Let us continue to search the Scriptures to confirm our faith in Him whose day is and shall be forever our light, forever our life, forever our rejoicing!