Sermon – October 20, 2019

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John 8:48-59 – Lunatic, Liar, Lord (mp3)

C.S. Lewis famously stated the argument that Jesus never wanted to leave us with the possible idea that he was just a nice moral teacher, however misunderstood. Either he was a lunatic, a liar, or our Lord. Possibly nowhere in the Bible does this truth become more apparent than here at the end of John 8. Jesus, charged with having a demon, continues to press those around him to have faith in him and his incredible promises. But, how are we to know that Jesus wasn’t just insane? How are we to believe that he truly was the Son of God, the image of the living God, and not insane or a liar?

1. Lunatic
After his row with the Jews about their father Abraham, the crowds consider Jesus to have a demon and be a Samaritan; in other words, to not be like them and to be out of his mind. Jesus, for his part, simply and patiently provides the same offer to them again: keep my word and you will never die. The Jews who do not follow Jesus are all the more convinced: you are insane.

2. Liar
But that is not the only option! Perhaps Jesus can just claim that he is indeed like them, and cannot really offer what he is offering. But Jesus refuses to do this: he is not lying like them. He cannot lie, but only offer the truth of who he is and what his Father has sent for him to accomplish.

In both of these cases, Jesus simply keeps on with the same story. Frankly, given the three options, this is what we’d expect. Lunatics continue to act like lunatics, liars like liars. If he is truly Lord, we would expect no change to his story either. So, how can we tell?

3. Lord
First, Jesus remarks that such problems are only theoretical. Abraham himself, (YOUR father!) saw his day with rejoicing. Abraham saw the offer of blessing through his offspring to the world as the undoing of the curse, of God coming near and giving life to his people. That is precisely what Jesus is doing – he is God come near, giving life. And, while Jesus refuses to give himself glory, to give the crowds the evidence that they clamor for, he will show that he is precisely who he claims to be: the existent one, the one who is, the I AM. He will do this, not by living forever, but by allowing death its best shot, and rising again. He is the Lord, the risen Messiah, ever to live and long to rule. Let us serve this gracious king, for he is worthy of our service!