Christ's Challenge to the World
John 8:38-47
I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and you do that which you have seen with your father.…

He who was the Word of God never spoke words which involved consequences so momentous as these. This challenge was uttered in the presence of those who had known Him from the first; of others who had walked up and down with Him every day since His ministry began; of not a few who were watching for His halting. But one and all were silent. This was much, but there lay in the challenge not merely a confidence that He had given no occasion which any man could take hold of, but His consciousness that He had no sin. We cannot suppose that He took advantage of the partial acquaintance of His hearers with the facts of His life to claim for Himself freedom from all sin, which prerogative they could not impugn, but which all the time He knew was not rightfully His own. In this challenge He implicitly declared that, being conformed in everything else to His brethren, He was not conformed to them in this; that He was holy, harmless, undefiled, and, in the matter of sin, separate from all his fellow men. He everywhere asserts the same. He teaches His disciples to say, "Forgive us our trespasses"; but no word implying that He needed forgiveness ever escaped His lips. Many words and acts, on the contrary, are totally irreconcilable with any such assumption. He gives His life a ransom for many, which it could not be if a life forfeited. He forgives sins, and that not in another's name, but in His own. He sets Himself at the central point of humanity, an intolerable presumption, had He differed from others only in degree, not in kind. In every other man of spiritual eminence there reveals itself a sense of discord and dissatisfaction. He sees before him heights of which he has fallen infinitely short. If he has attained to any exemplary goodness, it has only been through failure and error; he is at best a diamond which, if polished at all, has been polished in its own dust. And the nobler the moral elements working in any man's life, so much the more distinct and earnest are confessions of sin and shortcoming. But no lightest confession ever falls from His lips. There is in Him a perfect self-complacency. He is, and is perfectly, and has always been, all which He ought to be, or desires to be. Christ presented Himself to the world as the absolutely sinless One, demanded to be recognized as such by all, and bore Himself as such, not merely to men, but to God.

I. WHAT ARE THE EXPLANATIONS OF THIS? Three only are possible.

1. That He had sin and did not know it. But this sets Him infinitely below the saints of the New Testament, of whom one of the saintliest has declared, "If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves"; below the saints of the Old Testament who cried out with anguish when in the presence of the Holy One; below any of the sages of this world, for which of these has not owned and lamented the conflict of good and evil within him!

2. That conscious of His identity, in this matter, with other men He concealed it; nay, made claims on His own behalf which were irreconcilable with this consciousness; and, setting Himself forth as the exemplar to all other men in their bearing to God, omitted altogether those humiliations which every other man has felt at the best moments of his life to constitute the truest, indeed the only, attitude which he can assume in His presence. You will hardly admit this explanation.

3. But then, if you can accept neither the one nor the other of these explanations, you are shut up by a blessed necessity to that which the Holy Catholic Church throughout all the world has accepted, that which it utters in those words of adoration and praise, "Thou only art holy, Thou only art the Lord; Thou only, O Christ, with the Holy Ghost, art most high in the glory of God the Father."


1. Are any of us prepared to render unto Christ every homage short of this, to honour Him with an affection and a reverence yielded to no other, to recognize Him as nearer to moral perfection than every other, with sin reduced in Him to a minimum, the greatest religious reformer, the most original religious genius, the man most taught of God whom the world has ever seen; but here to stop short. There is no standing ground here. If the Gospels are a faithful record, and unless in all their main features they are so, the whole superstructure of Christian faith has no foundation whatever — they leave no room for any such position as this, halfway between the camps of faith and unbelief, which now divide the world. When the question of questions, "What think ye of Christ?" presents itself, and will not go without an answer, you must leave this equivocal position and declare that He was much more than this, or that He was much less.

2. You will not deny that He said He was much more. If this He was not, then in saying this, He deceived others, or else that He Himself was deceived. But allowing to Him what you do, you have no choice but to reject them both. Take Him, then, for that which He announced Himself to be, the one Man who could challenge all the world, "Which of you conceiveth Me of sin?" the one champion who entering the lists, and having no blot on his own scutcheon, no flaw in his own armour, could win the battle which every other man had lost; the one physician who could heal all others, inasmuch as He did not need Himself to be healed; sole of the whole Adamic race who had a right to say, "The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in Me."

(Archbishop Trench.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father.

WEB: I say the things which I have seen with my Father; and you also do the things which you have seen with your father."

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