What Does John 8:23 Mean?

And He was saying to them, "You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world.

John 8:23(NASB)

Verse Thoughts

From the start of Christ's ministry, the scribes and Pharisees resented His unorthodox teaching and heavenly testimony, which laid claims to His being the incarnate Son of God, Who came to earth from heaven as the anointed Messiah of Israel. They resisted the preaching of John the Baptist - about whom Isaiah prophesied, and held Christ's disciples in utter contempt.

These religious bigots tried to explain away Christ's supernatural signs and miraculous deeds - but their hatred reached its zenith when Jesus healed the sick on a Sabbath day, and claimed authority to forgive sins.

The religious leaders were astonished at Christ's biblical learning and authoritative teaching, in consideration that He was not schooled in the rabbinical tradition, but they targeted much of their hostility against Him, by asking questions, with the intent of tripping Him up and trapping Him into denying the Law of Moses or blaspheming the God of Israel.

As His march to the cross drew ever closer, the scribes and religious leaders engaged the Lord Jesus in many heated debates, and here in John chapter 8, the central conflict between Christ and the Pharisees was in connection with His claims to have come from above, and that He would soon return back to heaven. They questioned His declaration that He was the Light of the world and interrogated Him about His origin and ancestry.

They were not impressed by His virgin birth, but instead they labelled Him as a bastard! They did not praise God for the wonderful miracles He performed - but attributed His miraculous power to Beelzebub; the prince of demons!

And in this passage Jesus testified to His eternal claims and heavenly status, by confessing: You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world.

Jesus explained that He came from heaven and would return to heaven. Indeed, He pointed out that God the Father had sent Him into the world from His home in heaven, and that the combined testimonies of God the Father and God the Son, should satisfy their curiosity and concerns.

However, spiritual blindness prevented these religious leaders from recognising their own Messiah, and they foolishly blocked their ears to His redemptive message. We read that they discussed among themselves what Jesus meant when He said that He was from above and they were from below. They were so blind to the truth of Scripture, that they wondered what He meant when He told them that they would die in their sins.

It was the Bible that foretold of Christ's coming. Holy men of God had prophesised about the wonderful deeds that the Messiah would perform. Indeed, He carried out multiple signs, that Scripture said would authenticate His mission and identify Him as the promised Messiah - but despite years of study, and their knowledge of the Scriptures, these argumentative religious leaders did not KNOW God. They did not understand His Word and they did not recognise their heavenly Saviour.

They should have known that faith.. not works, worldly wisdom or religious knowledge is credited as righteousness, for we read in Genesis that Abraham believed God, and his faith was credited to him as righteousness. But, they were so keen to demolish Christ's teaching and testimony, that they missed the heavenly Lord of life, Who has the keys of death and hell.

Christ's kingdom is not on this world system, for this current world lies in the arms of the evil one. Christ's heavenly rule on earth will certainly be set up one day.. but first He must smash Satan's rule on earth, topple every worldly government and demolish all spiritual strongholds on earth.. and these religious rulers were so biased against Christ, that they condemned themselves to die in their sins, because they refused to recognise the truth - that they were from below, but Christ was from above and had the words of eternal life.

We are all born dead in trespasses and sins, but by faith we are given life, and made a new creation in Christ. However, it is a terrible thing to DIE in our sin. Those that DIE in their sins are those that have never trusted Christ. Those that DIE in their sins remain part of the old cursed, condemned creation in Adam. Those that die in their sins never recognise that we are from below and Jesus Christ is from above.

We are born into this fallen world and are part of a cursed creation. Jesus was born into the human race without the curse of Adam's sin, for He was the Son of God, and the federal head of a new, spiritual creation - and it is only by faith in Him, that can we born from above, as His spiritual seed, become part of the new heavenly creation in Christ and are promised positions in His coming earthly kingdom, when all His enemies have been put under His feet.

It is not what you do or how much you know that saves us, but knowing CHRIST as Saviour, and trusting what He did on Calvary's cross. Those who believe are NOT condemned.. and will not die in their sins - but have eternal life. Those that do not believe are condemned already, and WILL die in their sins - because they have not believed in the only begotten Son of God.

My Prayer

Heavenly Father, it is wonderful to know that I have been born again into a new creation and can never die in my sins because Christ took the punishment for me on the cross - for which I am eternally grateful. But, there are many who have not trusted in Christ, and who will die in their sins, if they do not hear and believe the good news of the gospel of grace. I pray that Your Holy Spirit would convict and convert many of their need of Christ for salvation - and use me to be a light to point the lost to Him - this I ask in Jesus name, AMEN.

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