Messages from Pastor Raddatz

June 12, 2022, Mount Olive Lutheran Church, Houston TX, Other texts for today: Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31 & Acts 2:14a, 22-36

WHO IS JESUS? John 8:48-59

Grace, Mercy and Peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Jesus is one of the most talked about people in History.  He never wrote a word about himself.   He defined himself by his actions.  In today’s reading from John’s good news about Jesus finds Jesus being criticized by religious leaders.  He takes this opportunity to define his self.  He tells them as he tells us that his seeks to honor the Father. 

MAIN IDEA: Jesus seeks to honor the Father

Let’s take a look at this together beginning in John 8:42 as he speaks some strong words towards religious leaders.

Jesus is Omniscient (knowing all things), vv. 42-47

The study of Jesus is called “Christology.”  Jesus is true God in that he knows what is on a person’s heart before his mouth utters an explanation.  Jesus is God in the flesh.  Therefore we profess that he is true God and true man.  This is why Jesus has stern words for the religious leaders in vv. 42-47.  

            He calls them children of the Devil because He (The Son is God) can read their heart. 

Jesus knows that the Jews relationship is not with his father but with Satan, because they are lying about Jesus.  Their problem was spiritual not intellectual.  They did not want Jesus as the sacrificial lamb.  They had a pre-conceived belief that their Messiah would be a warrior king.  Jesus was that warrior, but not in a military sense.  Jesus conquered Satan through the power of his death and resurrection.

            Jesus knows who we are and what we are about.  He knows everything that happens to us and what is done to us.  He is filled with forgiveness for all who come to him.  

The religious leaders did not want to come to Jesus, but they wanted him to confirm their prejudices and judgments-See John 8:1f, Jesus and the woman caught in adultery.  THIS WAS STAGED TO TRAP JESUS.  THE OT LAW SAID THAT COMPROMISING CIRCUMSTANCES WERE NOT ENOUGH TO CONVICT AND IT ALSO SAID THAT IF THE COUPLE WAS CAUGHT IN THE ACT BOTH PARTIES WERE TO BE STONED.   They just brought the woman.  This sin could not be committed alone.  Jesus said to the crowd, “He who is without sin, cast the first stone.”    No one condemned her and neither did Jesus.  He told her to leave her life of sin.

His critics claim that Jesus is a Samaritan and demon-possessed, vv. 48-53

            Jesus’ judgment of the religious leaders in John 8:42-47 stung.   Because Jesus is True God, he was right in his judgment, they bombarded Jesus with more judgments: claiming he was a half-breed, unclean, and filled with demons.

Jesus defines himself.

            Jesus says that he is not demon possessed, but he honors his Father while they dishonor him.  His whole message began with Abraham as the father of all nations.  Abraham was blessed with faith so that all people will be blessed with faith.

How do you define yourself?  Instead of other people’s criticisms defining you define yourself.   Did you see how Jesus did not join the debate about the Samaritan reference?   He did not try to defend himself, instead he defined himself.

What do you do when people make fun of you and criticize you.  Take the hurts you have experienced to the cross.   It is through faith that we are restored to a right relationship with God.  See Romans 3:22, righteousness comes through faith.  Our image is more than what we project, and our image is more than what others think about us.  God is the one who defines our image.  You have probably heard of the story of the little child was made fun of by his fellow students.  He made a mistake, and everyone laughed.   People were calling him trashy names.  He felt so alone, and he did not feel very valuable.  Then he said to himself, “God made me, and God don’t make junk.”   (Phrase first quoted by Ethel Waters)   

Jesus seeks to give glory to the Father, so HE “keeps” the words of God, and He is the Word, vv. 54-58.  He does his Father’s will, so he leaves the temple for his hour has not yet come.

Sometimes the best thing we can do to those who judge us unfairly is to leave.   This may not be prudent and the best strategy for every person and every situation.  The best way to debate a critic is to define you.  

How do we convey who Jesus is and what he is about?  We can study Christ (Christology), but the best way others will know what Jesus is about if we as Jesus’ followers be about the same thing as Jesus: seek to honor God with our life as a sacrifice to his glory.


For Bonheoffer “religion” was unacceptable; all that matters is a personal encounter with Christ. Bonhoeffer spoke of Jesus as “being there for others” and the one who is “have able, graspable within his Word within the Church.” 

Bonheoffer saw Christ active in a secularized life. “Christ is not exiled from our irreligious world but is present in it. He confronts people, not in the old process of repentance, faith, conversion, regeneration and sanctification, but in new ways through their ‘godless’ attitudes.”  Enns, Paul P.: The Moody Handbook of Theology. Chicago, Ill.: Moody Press, 1997, c1989, S. 577

In the modern world, it is easy herald Jesus as a great teacher rather than make a choice between madman or actual deity. C.S. Lewis continued his own thoughts about this debate over Jesus’ identity by writing, “But let’s not come up with any patronizing nonsense about his being a ‘great human teacher’. He has not left that open to us. He didn’t intend to.” Like Jesus does not intend to leave those in the temple with doubt about his claim to be the Messiah, the Light of the World who was God and was with God before the time of Abraham (before the world even began according to the Gospel’s prologue), if we truly listen to his words, think on his ways, ponder his glory, then we are left with no other option than to reject him or accept him as the Savior of the world.

The character of Christ is exhibited in his unwillingness to defend himself or to seek his own glory. That even God himself chooses to do so is confounding to me as a human being— when someone questions my integrity, purpose, or decisions, the first thing I want to do is defend myself. But Jesus doesn’t do so. Is there a way that we are called to a similar Christlikeness?

Self-glorification is also an effective way to catch false messiahs and cult leaders. Compare Jesus’ disposition of glorifying the Father rather than himself with the decisions and actions of Joseph Smith Jr., David Koresh, Sun Myung Moon and other cult leaders. It won’t take long to see where the two ways of leading people part roads: instead of raising himself in status, power, or prestige, Jesus left that work to the rest of the Godhead and sacrificed for those who would follow him. Jesus acted out of a disposition of love rather than self-glorification.  Chelsey Harmon is an ordained minister in the CRC currently pursuing a ThM in Spiritual Theology from Regent College in Vancouver, BC.

KNOW YOUR ENEMY ILLUSTRATION: Rudolf Virchow (1821-1902) was a German pathologist and politician (interesting combination!) who openly opposed the German chancellor, Otto von Bismarck. On one occasion, Bismarck was so enraged at Virchow that he challenged him to a duel. Virchow replied, “As the challenged party, I have the choice of weapons and I choose these.” He held up two large and apparently identical sausages. “One of these,” he continued, “is infected with deadly germs. The other is perfectly sound. Let His Excellency decide which one he wishes to eat, and I will eat the other.”

Almost immediately the message came back that the chancellor had decided to laugh off the duel. (The Little, Brown Book of Anecdotes, ed. by Clifton Fadiman [Little, Brown, & Co.], p. 565.) The moral of that story is that if you’re going to challenge someone, you had better know your opponent and know when to drop the challenge before you lose more than face.

In John 8, the Pharisees have been challenging Jesus ever since He proclaimed (8:12), “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”  Jesus accepts the challenge of bringing glory to the Father.  We have the same challenge: do we serve Christ, or do we please people?  The two are not always mutually exclusive.  God calls us to bring praise to God.

The writer to the Hebrews put this goal best when describing how others live seeking to bring God glory:

Each one of these people of faith died not yet having in hand what was promised, but still believing. How did they do it? They saw it way off in the distance, waved their greeting, and accepted the fact that they were transients in this world. Hebrews 11:13 (MSG)  

AMEN – Soli Deo Gloria (SDG) =To God Be the Glory John F. Raddatz


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