Sermon – Whoever obeys my words will never see death (John 8:48 – 8:59) – Cornerstone Church Kingston
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John 2021

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The Book of John was authored by one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, John, who features in the gospel. John makes his mission for writing the book plain in 20:31; “that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” He details the many words and claims of Jesus, as well as the various responses from those listening; in either faith, amazement, caution or rejection. Listen as Cornerstone preachers unpack the narrative and invite us to reflect on our own response to Jesus.

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Sermon 31 of 58

Whoever obeys my words will never see death

Ben Read, John 8:48 - 8:59, 17 July 2022

At our Baptism service for three of our youth members, Ben continues our series in John’s gospel, preaching from John 8:48-59. In this passage we see Jesus’ amazing claims about himself and about death - and what it means for us today.

John 8:48 - 8:59

48 The Jews answered him, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?” 49 Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. 50 Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge. 51 Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” 52 The Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.’ 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?” 54 Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ 55 But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” 57 So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” 59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.


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This transcript has been automatically generated, and therefore may not be 100% accurate.

John chapter 8 verses 48 to 59. The Jews answered him, aren't we right in saying that you are a samaritan and demon possessed? I am not possessed by a demon, said Jesus, but I honor my father and you dishonor me. I am not seeking glory for myself.

But there is 1 who seeks it and he is the judge. Very truly, I tell you whoever obeys my word will never see death. At this, they exclaimed now we know that you are demon possessed. Abraham died and so did the prophets. Yet do you say that whoever obeys your word will never taste death?

Are you greater than our father, Abraham, He died and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are? Jesus replied, if I glorify myself My glory means nothing. My father whom you claim as your God is the 1 who glorifies me. Though you do not know him.

I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you. But I do know him and obey his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day. He saw it and was glad.

You are not yet 50 years old, they said to him. And you have seen Abraham. Very truly, I tell you Jesus answered. Before Abraham was born, I am. At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself slipping away from the temple grounds.

Well, good evening everyone from me. Welcome. Thank you for for Baring with us to this point in the heat and stuff, it's really great to have your support for these young people as well. And if you're new visiting, my name's Ben. I'm 1 of the pastors here at the church.

And also online. Thanks for tuning in. I know there's some people from the states watching, so really great to have you. Anne Thorigood was baptized in this baptistry. When she was 13.

How awesome is it that you also get to be baptized in this baptistery? What a legacy for this place and the gospel here? In this building that goes on. And then, hopefully, in the future, people can say, Alexis Lamper was baptized here. After she's won the Champions League and the World Cup for England and all that sort of stuff.

And then also Harry Glen. He was baptized here and Kenny Brouchava baptized here. In this baptistery. Let's pray, shall we, as we open God's word. Father, we thank you so much for this wonderful occasion.

We thank you that you've given us the gift of of baptism that we might celebrate outwardly what you have done inwardly to these young people and in the Lord Jesus Christ. Help us now as we see these words of Jesus. These amazing words of Jesus. Give us eyes to see them, I pray. Please help us, and give us ears as well to hear in Jesus' name, amen.

Armen. Okay. Right. I'm gonna show you a a picture. Sorry.

That's oh, do you know what? I haven't plugged it in? Wanna go and plug that in quickly? And in the meantime, do you wanna just flick it on to the next screen? Here we go.

Did anyone know what that is? Slightly odd, isn't it? Can anyone see anything there? No. Alright.

How about the next 1? B. I mean, you can sort of see stuff there. Base by block block. Yeah.

Okay. But that's not really it. What about this 1? Is anyone getting what these things are? Yeah.

Okay. Some of you might know. How about this 1? Magic I? Who said that?

You know it? It's because you're like a nineties. Are you in eighties? Yes, because you're old. Don't worry.

So these are called stereo grams or magic eye pictures. And they sort of went popular in the early nineties, I think, in the late eighties, which is why you recognize them fit. They they were sort of littered around. School libraries and things like that. And I I think I remember coming across these sorts of things when I was younger, but it was I only just rediscovered them when I was an adult.

We were on the rooted youth weekend away, and there was a common room that we were just hanging out in in the sort of downtime. And there were some books. But 1 of the books was these magic eye books. And it it just had pages and pages of stuff like this. And I was like, what the heck is this?

This is a rubbish book. There's nothing here. It's just nonsense. It's just I mean, what is going on? But then, I read.

How you do a magic eye picture. And the most amazing thing happened. And if you've done them, you'll know that you go from from from seeing this nonsensical, flat 2 d picture to seeing genuinely like a like a new world, like a 3 d space, an environment that has 3 d objects popping out at you. Sometimes there's text and words. There's backgrounds.

There's sort of like scenery. There's all sorts of vivid colors and things that come into focus. And it's just amazing. And I was taking this book around. I think I became the world's greatest evangelist.

For the next 10 minutes. Because I was literally going around. I've got 1 here. I've actually made my own 1. 0.

And I've got a few of them, if anyone at the end of this service wants to kinda have a go. If you're like, I don't believe you. That's nonsense. I've made some. I've actually made some.

And I was going around. I was going around, everyone would be like, have you seen this? Have you have you seen it? And they're like, what is it? I'm like, well, come on, you have to look at it.

And I was going around. Can you see it? Can you see it? Can you see it? Have you ever seen 1?

Have you ever heard that? No. You Okay. I'm gonna evangelize you later. And I was going around, and Pete was there, and Pete was like, it's nonsense.

They've never seen them. They don't work. I don't believe in it. And I was try I tried must must have been 10, 15 minutes. I was trying, but he couldn't see it.

But the other day, for the first time in his life, I managed to get to see it, so I converted Pete. He's now a believer. Okay. Look, a magic eye picture looks like nonsense until you do you do something like this where you you you focus in on it quite close to your eyes, so you go all slightly out focusing. As you drag it back, What happens is your eyes focus in on a distance that is beyond the page.

And as a result of that, your brain, which is doing this all the time, does a clever thing where it sees some things that look similar and brings them together. And so your brain puts a picture together that you can't see just there. And then so suddenly, you're seeing a 3 d image genuinely. Does anyone not believe me? Because I'd love to convert you after this.

So anyway, look, it's amazing. And and actually, what happens is the page itself seems to disappear. You you you don't see this anymore. You look beyond it. There's a whole sort of world through it.

You look through it. It really is a magic eye picture. Magic eye picture. And I wanna say that is a little bit like what Jesus is saying here in this interaction with the Jews that he's speaking to. When he says this amazing line, he says whoever obeys my word will never see death.

Whoever obeys my word will never see death. He's talking about a kind of spiritual eye picture. Because Jesus is not promising that his followers will never die. I mean, 2000 years ago, everyone who heard him say these words is dead. All of us here will be dead.

But here's the amazing thing that Jesus is saying. That when a Christian looks into the grave, when a Christian looks into death, their eyes don't terminate on a flat nonsensical 2 d black wall of death. Actually, when the Christian looks at death, their sight goes through it, and they see a whole world and life beyond it. There's 3 d, vivid colors. There's light.

And you actually The the weirdest thing with this is that because this becomes 3 d, you kinda tilt the page and you can sort of almost see around the corner of the page. That's what the Christian does when we look into the grave. And we can see there's life, an eternal beauty, vivid, expansive life beyond the grave. Whoever obeys my word will never see death. You know, this is why the apostle Paul in the Bible can say to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

The Christian says to die is gain. Now who else can say that. Who else can say to die is gain? Well, the Christian can, because the Christian sees through it and sees this whole incredible 3 d vivid life on the other side. And that's the sense of what Jesus means here when he says, whoever obeys my word will never see death.

Another way of looking at what Jesus is saying here is like a theater. We've all been to the theater, so you plays and things. The word see here in Greek when Jesus says whoever obeys my word will never see death. The word is actually where we get the English word, theater from. It can mean to sort of spectate, follow closely be caught up in the drama of.

So look, Jesus is also saying whoever obeys my word, will never get caught up in the theater of death. I went to see an amateur version of les Miz once. And it was probably as hot as this, and I was like, when is this gonna end? I was thoroughly miserable by the end of it. And actually, we left at the interval, which was hilarious.

It's the only time I've ever done that in my life, but I thought it was never going to end. But Jesus is saying, whoever obeys my words, will never get caught up in the theater of death. You're not gonna have to be a spectator of the play of death. You won't have to be a character in its never ending drama. You aren't gonna have to watch this story line unfold.

It's the performance you're never gonna see. Frank Sinatra sang about death, didn't he? He said, and now the end is here, and so I face that final curtain. Jesus is saying that the final curtain is gonna have a final curtain. There's gonna be an end to death.

Whoever obeys my word will never see death. It's not gonna be a play that you're gonna see. If you obey my word. They're amazing words from Jesus these, aren't they? They're amazing.

I mean, this morning, I I read this. This is from a guy called Ryan Jones, who was an Welsh rugby player. He's got early onset dementia. He's 41. And he he says this on on the BBC News website.

I feel like my world is falling apart, and I'm really scared. I live 15 years of my life, like a superhero, and I'm not. I don't know what the future holds. Here's a man who's been forced to look at death, and all he sees is 2 d flat nonsensical termination. He can't see past it.

Debra Dame, Deborah James, who passed away not so long ago. She said all I want right now is more time and more life. She saw death. She looked at it in the face, and she saw termination flat 2 d, nothing more. This is what Billy Graham said, a Christian.

Someday, you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don't you believe a word of it? I shall be more alive now then sorry, more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.

Yeah? There's a Christian who sees through death. They don't see death. They see life more alive than any of Billy Graham is more alive than any of us now, though he's in the grave. There's a thought.

That's the view Jesus wants us, you to have. He wants you to have that view. To look into death and to see beyond it. Now, how on earth is this possible? Well, baptism is a wonderful, wonderful picture that God has given us to explain how this is possible.

Why is it that we don't see death as Christians? Why do we look through it into into eternal life? Well, 1 of the things that baptism represents is the death of Jesus. Though, as we just read, he's the great I am. That's what Jesus said.

Lots of people say, show me where Jesus says he's God. Here is where Jesus says he's God. I am Yahweh is the name for the God of the Bible, and Jesus says before Abraham was, I am. That's where Jesus says he's God. Though he's God himself, though he's greater than Abraham, Though the father in heaven is the 1 who glorifies him.

You can't get any higher than this. Though he's all those things, he comes into this world as a humble servant, as we've heard these guys say. And he dies on the cross in the place of sinners. So he dies, and just like us, he's laid in the ground. And that's what we symbolize by immersing someone in the waters of baptism.

So in a minute, after this, gonna get the 3 guys up, and they're gonna be immersed. They're gonna go down into the water. Water is gonna cover them. They go down into the grave and into death like Jesus did, but Jesus died with a purpose. It was actually his plan to die.

Unlike any Marvel superhero you'll ever see, death wasn't the end of Jesus' ministry. It was his ministry. That is his ministry. That was why he came. He came to die to take the punishment of the sin.

I mean Harry Glen is a sinner. Can you believe it? Jesus came to take his sin upon himself. Everything that makes myself And Rory, who's leading, and Harry, and Alexis, and Ketley, and the girls who prayed, and Maggie, who read everything that makes us ashamed. Everything that we've done to offend God, that's broken his holy and good law that's meant for our benefit.

Every time we've hurt others. Every time I've hurt you, Every time that I have recklessly put myself first before others, Christ came to take all of that. Upon himself on the cross. And that's why he died because the wages of sin is death. That's the penalty And so Jesus pays the penalty and dies in our place.

But once he'd paid for them, Once he dealt with them forever, death had no more control over him. Imagine a debt that you have that just gets bigger and bigger and bigger, and you you work hard and you try and pay off some pennies every day, but the pennies you pay every day are outweighed by the pounds of interest and debt they're accumulating every day. And your whole life is lived like that. Even An thoroughgood, who was baptized when she was 13, has lived a life of of sin. You're a sinner, Anne, the same as all of us.

And no amount of good works that even Anne thorough good, it's in a name. No amount of good works that she can do in her life can ever pay off her debt, but Jesus died and paid off and thorough good's debt. Isn't that good news? Jesus died and paid off Harry Glen's debt. Isn't that good news?

Jesus paid the debt in full. He served the prison sentence. There are no more years to serve. He served them all. He's absorbed all of God's judgment.

There's nothing more to judge. And so the bible declares this, death has been swallowed up in victory. Death has been swallowed up. And so, God raised Jesus from the grave because death doesn't have any mastery. Death comes in because of sin, sins dealt with, death is not needed anymore.

And so Jesus is brought back to life by the father. And he's raised from the grave, and then suddenly there's a hole punched through death. Whereas before death was this termination. You couldn't look past it suddenly. There's a hole through it.

And you can see eternal life. There's 3 d world, their light of heaven pours in because Jesus has made a way to everlasting life. And that's why we bring the person back out of water. In a minute, we're not just gonna dunk them and go, well, that's Jesus. He died.

And what's for dinner? We bring them up out of the water again. We bring them up because that's what happened to Jesus, he rose to eternal life. And those who obey his word, says, will likewise never see death. They too are gonna go into the grave, but 1 day they're gonna be raised to life again.

Into their everlasting 3 d, colorful, vibrant life. So in baptism, we look backwards to Jesus' death and resurrection, and we look forward to subsounds a bit weird saying that. We look forward to these guys' death and resurrection. That's what we're doing. We're looking back to Jesus, and we're looking forward to their resurrection.

And just like Alexis, you have plans to win the Champions League, don't you? Yeah. You your do you have plans for the rest of today? I don't know. Are you doing anything later?

You don't know. Okay. Kettley, have you got plans for later? I need a plan for this illustration, so just give me a plan. Walking home.

Okay. Great. Kately doesn't see her day ending as she goes into the water. That's not where she goes, whoa. What am I gonna do?

I'm gonna be covered in water. I'm never gonna get out of the pool. That's it for the rest of my life. No. She has a plan.

Just gonna walk home. That's a great plan. She sees through the water and the rest of her life, and the rest of her day. And that's what the Christian does. We see through the grave, and we and we come out the other end.

That's such good news, isn't it, for the world? That's what we really want, Ryan Jones to hear, actually. But just to finish, Notice what Jesus says here. He says, you know, why is it we can be certain that these 3 will never see death? Was because he says whoever obeys my word will never see death.

This is not a promise for the world generally, There's a very specific clause attached to this. Whoever obeys my word. Now if you have a bible open in front of you, look back to verse 12 of this chapter. He says in verse 12. You know, what is the word of Jesus?

What is it that we must obey? Well, John chapter 8 verse 12, Jesus says, I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness. But will have the light of life. Whoever follows me won't terminate a death, but they will have the light of life.

The word of Jesus is to follow him. And these 3, as we've just heard, want to follow Jesus. And that means that they've heard the word of Jesus, it rooted, They all said and 1 to ones, but they haven't just heard the word. They've accepted the word, but they haven't just accepted it. They've obeyed the word to follow Jesus for him to be king.

Because I want to warn you now that it is entirely possible to hear a nice sermon about Jesus and go, oh, that's lovely. Jesus is the light of the world. And it's entirely possible to accept the message of the sermon about Jesus. You know, Jesus is the light of the world. I like that.

You know, I accept it. Christmas is a wonderful time. We put lights up, and we remember Jesus, and yeah, I like it. But then, you can still do absolutely nothing about following him. And unless you follow him, you're not obeying his word.

So it's not those who simply hear or even accept who never see death. It's those who obey the call to follow him. And that's exactly what these 3 guys have done. And that's exactly why this is such an amazing celebration. So they've died.

They'll be raised again because they've put their faith in the lord Jesus Christ because of that, they will never see death. A few months ago, Jesus called these young people the imperishable's. Remember that? He said you're imperishable. That's exactly right.

You will never see death. You look through death to eternal life with him. You don't have to watch its ugly drama unfold. You're not gonna be a character in storyline. You're gonna live more vibrantly, more alive, more wonderfully than you are even now.

And right now, we're like, oh, I could do with of heaven's breeze coming through. So look, just to just to finish. If you are a Christian here but you haven't been baptized, Then actually, part of following Jesus is to be baptized. That's where he's commanded. And so if you were a believer, if you're a member of our church, but you haven't yet been baptized, Come and speak to us.

We'd love to we'd love to have you baptized. And if you're not a a Christian, then then consider it whether or not you see death. Are you like dame Deborah James? Or or Ryan Jones. When you see death, do you just see this?

Non sensical, flat end? Well, Jesus wants you to see through that and see eternal life 3 d vibrant life forever. Look through the page of death and be raised to turn off. That's the wonderful good news. That's what we're about to do when we ties as young people.

So let me pray, and then we'll get onto we'll get into that. Father, we thank you so much that those who obey the Word of Jesus, to follow him. We'll never see death. Thank you that these 3 young people, when they look into the grave, they don't see an end there, but they see right through it. They see eternal life with the Lord Jesus himself.

Thank you for that. I pray for the rest of us that you'd encourage us to keep doing that, to keep looking beyond death, living in the light of heaven today. And for anyone here who who who is not a Christian, who who looks at death and sees a flat page, would you show them the 3 d world beyond it, father? Give them spiritual eyes to see the truth of heaven, and the lord Jesus Christ. And we pray that in his name, amen.

Preached by Ben Read
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Ben is a Trainee Pastor at Cornerstone and lives with his wife Ceri who is a youth leader and helps run the women’s ministry in the church.

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