Once more Jesus said to them, “I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come.”
This made the Jews ask, “Will he kill himself? Is that why he says, ‘Where I go, you cannot come’?”
But he continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.”
“Who are you?” they asked.
“Just what I have been telling you from the beginning,” Jesus replied. “I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is trustworthy, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.”
They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father. So Jesus said, “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 but speak just what the Father has taught me. The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.” Even as he spoke, many believed in him.
This passage captures the essence of Jesus' mission and the tragic misunderstanding of the people around him. Jesus tells the Pharisees, "I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come." This statement is not just about physical locations; it's about spiritual destinations.
The Pharisees, with their worldly thinking, are baffled. They wonder if Jesus is planning to kill himself. But Jesus is speaking of his impending crucifixion, resurrection, and return to the Father. The 'going away' refers to his departure from this world, while the place they 'cannot come' signifies the heavenly realm, which they can't access without embracing the salvation he offers.
However, it doesn't look like they will. Because of their unbelief, Jesus tells them, "You will indeed die in your sins." How tragic! The Savior from sin is right there in front of them, but they will look elsewhere for salvation. It is not very different in the world today. Many who believe in an afterlife rely solely on human effort to attain it, not realizing that without Christ, it simply isn't possible.
Jesus then says: "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 but speak just what the Father has taught me.” The term "lifted up" is a double entendre. It refers to Jesus being raised on the cross but also to his ascension into heaven.
There's a glimmer of hope here. Jesus speaks of those who will believe in him, indicating that not all will remain blind to his identity and mission. And indeed, as the passage concludes, "Even as he spoke, many believed in him."
Do we? The Jews of his time had not yet witnessed the full scope of Christ's mission, including his death and resurrection, so one might argue they had some grounds for their skepticism. But we don't have any excuses unless, of course, we don't accept the historical fact that he died and rose again. It's on us.
God bless you.