A Wicked Switcheroo and Gracious Substitution (John 8:48–59)

The Jews answered him, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?”

—John 8:48

Since the serpent hissed his lie in the Garden, man has vainly tried to pull the ultimate switcheroo.

“…the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil,’” (Genesis 3:15).

“You will be like God.” This was the promise of sin. The serpent was seeking to reverse creation order in speaking this promise to the woman, placing her over her husband. And under them all—God. And over them all—the serpent.

John 8:12–59 is all about the question “Who?” It looks at the question of who in a judicial sense. Supremely it is about who Jesus is. This is the paramount question in vv. 12–30. Jesus declares, “I am the Light of the world.” The leaders object that He is bearing witness about Himself, therefore His testimony is not valid. Jesus masterfully steers the conversation so that they unwittingly ask Jesus to do just that—bear witness to Himself. In v. 25 they ask, “Who are you?”

In vv. 31–47 Jesus exposes who they are. While He is the Son of the Father, they are children of the devil. Now, in this third section of chapter 8, they try to switch places. They have claimed God as their Father, (v. 41). Now they say that Jesus has a demon. 

In the wake of the first switcheroo, the promise of salvation was given as God cursed the serpent saying, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15). As man tried to switch places with God; so he tries to switch seeds.

The seed of the serpent tries to trade places with the seed of the woman, and he does so, as do these Jews, in the name of religion and truth. Sometimes the spawn of Satan call the darkness light and the light darkness, not in the name of knowing evil, but in the name of knowing good. Such is the nature of this switcheroo, that evil is cloaked as good.

Evil man tries to put Himself in the place of the good God. In mercy, the good God puts Himself in the place of sinful man. God the Son answers man’s wicked switcheroo with gracious substitution.

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