21 So he said to them again, “I am going away, and you will seek me, and you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come.” 22 So the Jews said, “Will he kill himself, since he says, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?” 23 He said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.” 25 So they said to him, “Who are you?” Jesus said to them, “Just what I have been telling you from the beginning. 26 I have much to say about you and much to judge, but he who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.” 27 They did not understand that he had been speaking to them about the Father. 28 So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. 29 And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.” 30 As he was saying these things, many believed in him.
Jesus is warning both his ‘friends’ and his enemies. He is letting them know that he is the judge and that they are misinterpreting him. He lets them know that they will die in their sins. N. T. Wright allows that this has spiritual value and talks of an eternal death, but he also refers to the immediate context. Jesus is telling the people that they will physically die at the hands of Rome without having turned as a nation from their sin. This reintegrates the reality of physical and spiritual existence. We can see that sin is prevalent in the world. Ukraine, Hong Kong, Syria, Iraq and Liberia are international reminders that all is not right globally. However, in America and Britain we have unrest, unwanted children, rape, murder and divorce. The environment is treated poorly and greed directs our economic choices. We die in our sin if we die without Christ in this fallen world.
Jesus redeems the individual, but he redeems them as change agents who effect the community that they are in. Firstly there must be constant change in the life of each individual. We must see the sin that entangles us and we must throw it off in order to become the creations that Christ has paid for us to be. As we are transformed we need to share the transformation with those in our families and sphere of influence. Also, we must change how we drive, how we date, how we educate, and how we work in order to harmonize it with God’s design. Then, when we die, we do not die in our sin. Jesus redeems it all – in this life and the next.
We can be discouraged as agents of change when the world does not see you as we see you. Children are taught to be silent about you in our public education systems because you are absent from the curriculum. Adults are silent about you because they don’t see your role in their work. Help us to be change agents in every area of life so that people would not have to die in so much sin.
- How does Jesus warn his listeners?
- Do you think that N. T. Wright is correct in saying that Jesus’ warning is both relating to spiritual eternity and temporal circumstances? Why? Why not?
- When does Jesus say they will understand?
- Are people in the world today dying in their sin? Describe what you mean?
- How are you an agent of redemption for people and their world?