Not of This World.
“You are from below; I am from above. You belong to this world; I do not. That is why I said that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I AM who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.” – John 8:23 NLT
Jesus was human. But He was also divine. He was the God-man, perfectly God and perfectly man. And while He was born as a baby just like every other man, and lived His life just like every other human being, He was distinctly different. He was completely sinless. He was perfectly obedient to the will of God, His Father. While He had to undergo temptation just like the rest of us, He never succumbed to it. On the outside, He looked just any other ordinary Jew. There was nothing about His appearance that stood out. In fact, Isaiah, in prophesying about the coming Messiah, said, “There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him” (Isaiah 53:2 NLT). But in Jesus’ case, appearances really were deceiving. Because He was anything but ordinary. He was the Son of God, the long-awaited Messiah, the Savior of the world, and the future King of Israel. But to the people of His day, Jesus was an enigma at best and a nuisance at worst. They didn’t understand Him. They couldn’t fathom that He was who He claimed to be. In terms of the Messiah, He wasn’t what they were expecting. The Pharisees seemed to spend all their time trying to trap Him in order to discredit Him. In spite of His teaching, they had little respect for Him. They saw Him as a backwoods radical with no training and no understanding of the Scriptures. Being experts in the Law of Moses, they were constantly trying to expose His ignorance by putting Him in situations where He would forced to decide wrongly. That was their obvious intent when they brought the woman caught in adultery before Jesus. There was a large crowd watching and they wanted to see what Jesus would say when confronted with this delicate legal situation. But once again, Jesus confounds them. He surprises them and sends them packing, but He sends the woman away with a word of forgiveness and a warning to sin no more.
Jesus came offering Himself as a light to illuminate the prevailing darkness. He came to expose sin and provide a way to escape the penalty for sin. The Pharisees were trapped in the darkness despite their knowledge of the Word of God and their belief that they stood righteous before God because of all their religious activities. Jesus said, “Since you don’t know who I am, you don’t know who my Father is” (John 8:19 NLT). They were blind to the reality of who Jesus was. They couldn’t see Him and they refused to accept Him. They rejected His claims, His teachings, His miracles and His offer of eternal life. And Jesus explained the problem clearly and simply: “You are from below; I am from above” (John 8:23 NLT). That was the issue. They were stuck with their limited, earthly perspective. They were of this world and couldn’t recognize Jesus because He was not of this world. He had been sent by the Father into this world. He was God incarnate – God in human flesh. He was Immanuel – God with us. He could not be explained in human terms. He could not be written off based on human reason and logic.
When the people looked at Jesus, they saw a man, just like them. And He was. But He was so much more. He was God come to earth. He was the Creator of the world choosing to live among His creation. Earlier in his gospel, John reminds us, “So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness” (John 1:14 NLT). In the days of their ancestors, God would reveal Himself to the Israelites in the form of a pillar of fire or smoke. He would settle on the mountain top accompanied by thunder and lightning. He manifested Himself in powerful displays that were unmistakable and terrifying. They struck fear into the hearts of the people of God. It was obvious when He was with them and it was frighteningly clear when He was not. But with Jesus, the presence and power of God was contained within the body of an ordinary looking man. And while Jesus did extraordinary things, it was hard for the people to get past the packaging, because He appeared to be just like them. But He wasn’t. Jesus said, “You belong to this world; I do not” (John 8:23 NLT). They would die in their sins, but He was sinless. They would be condemned to a life of darkness, relegated to spend their days on this earth until they died. Jesus would die, but be resurrected and then return to where He was from. Jesus told them, “When you have lifted the Son of Man on the cross, then you will understand that I AM he” (John 8:28 NLT). Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection would be the final proofs of His claim to be the Son of God, the Messiah. He would die, but He would rise again. He would do what no other man had ever done: Live a sinless life. And then He would offer that unblemished life as a substitutionary sacrifice on behalf of all mankind. He would die in our place, so that we might have eternal life. But to take advantage of His gracious gift requires belief. “for unless you believe that I AM who I claim to be, you will die in your sins” (John 8:23 NLT). You can’t judge the validity of Jesus’ claim based on human standards. It won’t make sense. It requires faith – a trust in the claims of Jesus and the Word of God that He was not and is not of this world. He is divine. He is God. He was and is who He claimed to be, and His offer of eternal life stands. It may make no sense. It may seem illogical and impossible, but it’s true. “For I say only what I have heard from the one who sent me, and he is completely truthful” (John 8:26 NLT).
Father, You are the one who sent Jesus into the world. You are the one who gave Him His assignment. It was You who sanctioned and blessed His ministry. You are the one who required His sacrificial death on the cross so that we might have a restored relationship with You. You are the one who raised Him from the dead and gave Him new life. And it is You who will send Him back some day. Everything about the life of Jesus is divine and not of this world. And yet, too often we can be guilty of judging Him according to human standards. We overemphasize His humanness and lose sight of His God-ness. He was and is the Son of God. He was more than just a good, moral, humble, wise, and selfless man. He was Your Son sent to accomplish Your will. And He did it perfectly. Thank You. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men