Carson, D. A. The Gospel According to John. Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1991.
“Jesus’ Self-Disclosure in Word and Deed (1:19-10:42) D. Radical Confrontation: Climactic Signs, Works and Words (8:12-10:42)” pp. 337-401.
Carson begins this segment of his commentary by noting that John 8:12 follows 7:52 perfectly. If the passage from 7:53-8:11 is not original the text remains smooth (Carson 1991, 337). He then goes on to discuss the theme of light in John’s Gospel and Judaism. It was a familiar concept. When Jesus said he was “the light of the world” the people would have understood the concept (Carson 1991, 338).
Carson notes that Jesus’ words in 8:13 should not be understood to prohibit him from asserting his identity. Rather, they say that Jesus is not speaking or acting on his own initiative. He is speaking in accord with his overall testimony, in which his claims are documented by others’ (Carson 1991, 339). Jesus does testify to himself. He also makes judgment, which is fair (Carson 1991, 340).
John 8:21-30 speaks of Jesus’ source of authority. Carson sees Jesus repeating the ideas from 7:33-34, but more forcefully. This does not, however, make the people accept his word (Carson 1991, 341). Jesus, from the heavenly realm, is not understood by his hearers, who, in v. 23, are said to be from the fallen and rebellious world (Carson 1991, 342). In relation to verse 24, Carson speaks at length about the reference to Exodus 3:13-14. Carson concludes that Jesus’ statement of ἐγὼ εἰμί without a direct quote of ὅ ὦν from Exodus makes it difficult to see a direct claim here (Carson 1991, 343). The context, however, made it clear to Jesus’ hearers at some times that he was claiming deity (Carson 1991, 344).
John 8:31-59 introduces some people as believers, but they are later described as slaves to sin (Carson 1991, 246). Carson considers a variety of explanations for this apparent change of attitude. He concludes that some people may have a “fickle faith” which he contrasts with that of the genuine believer (Carson 1991, 348). Carson goes on to identify Jesus’ calls to count the cost of following him as a call to rightly analyze works. Thus the Christian can be sure his commitment to Jesus is true (Carson 1991, 348). Jesus moves the discussion to the concept of slavery next. Carson notes that the Jews no doubt understood Jesus’ reference to a moral servitude to sin. Otherwise they would not have denied being subjects. However, the status of slaves as compared to children is apparently the target of Jesus’ discussion (Carson 1991, 350). Conduct, whether as a slave, a son of Abraham, or the Son of God, shows our true status (Carson 1991, 351). In verses 42 and following, Jesus does not even allow for God to be the Father of the Jews in general. He ties fatherhood very closely to behavior (Carson 1991, 353). Carson notes that in verse 45 unbelief is explained. People who do not believe are children of their father, the Devil. The passage does not explain why some do believe. Carson reiterates the ideas from chapter six of God drawing people to believe (Carson 1991, 354). Jesus does go on to say he is the one who gives life. Verses 51-52 show this as his purpose (Carson 1991, 355). This sparks an objection. Does Jesus think he is greater than Abraham? Jesus claims perfect knowledge of God (Carson 1991, 356). He does claim to be greater than Abraham. He does so in such clear terms in verse 58 that the Jews move to stone him for blasphemy (Carson 1991, 358).
In chapter 9 Jesus heals a man born blind. Carson notes that much critical scholarship will attempt to distinguish as “source” miracle story from the “more mature” spiritual applications of the Evangelist. Carson does not consider much of that inquiry to be convincing (Carson 1991, 360). The heart of the controversy is dependent on whether John was narrating an event from Jesus’ work or if he was creating a story to comment on the conflict between the churc of his time and the Jewish heirarchy.
The sign of healing itself is in John 9:1-12. The specific time and place are unclear. We last knew that Jesus was in Jerusalem at the Feast of Tabernacles. The next known marker is the Feast of Dedication, a fw months later (Carson 1991, 361). In verse 2, though the disciples assume a link between sin and the man’s suffering, Carson notes the connection to individuals is normally not made in Scripture. Verse 3 indicate that even an inborn condition is under God’s control (Carson 1991, 362). Carson concludes that Jesus’ statement in verses 4-5 indicates that his departure will hinder the Jewish leaders from conversion. They will be left in the dark, blind (Carson 1991, 3653). The contrast is shown in verse 6 when Jesus gives light to a man who has never seen. The use of saliva in the healing may imply Jesus’ authority over what is unclean (Carson 1991, 364). The name of the pool, “Siloam,” may be a reminder that the man was healed by the one “sent” by God (Carson 1991, 365).
The Pharisees investigate the healing in verses 13-34 (Carson 1991, 366). Carson notes the importance of the specific title. The man was not brought to the religious court. He was brought to the theological experts. He was not on trial (Carson 1991, 366). In verse 16 it is apparent that the discussion turns, in some minds, on the Sabbath. If Jesus is violating the Sabbath he is not from God (Carson 1991, 367). In other minds, the miracle can only be done by God, so Jesus must be from God (Carson 1991, 368). Neither argument is compelling. The Pharisees question the man and his parents. The parents, not wishing to incur penalties, do not tell how the son was healed Carson notes that many scholars reject the idea of this conflict being genuine. Threats of removal from the synagogue may not have been established as early as this healing (Carson 1991, 369). Carson does not consider it unreasonable that local synagogues would expel followers of Jesus even prior to the death of Christ (Carson 1991, 371). By verse 24 the authorities had decided Jesus was a sinful man. The man and his parents will not confess the sin. This provokes more questioning (Carson 1991, 372). The issue eventually asks whether one is a disciple of Moses or of Jesus (Carson 1991, 374). Carson notes that the Pharisees considered Moses to include the oral tradition surrounding the Pentateuch. By that measure Jesus is a lawbreaker. The instance of the man born blind makes the Pharisees more resistent than they had been previously (Carson 1991, 375).
Verses 35-41 comment on sight and blindness. Those who would reject Jesus as the savior are found to be blind (Carson 1991, 375). Jesus is rightly understood as the “Son of Man.” Carson notes that the term emphasizes Jesus as the one who can judge and disclose God to man (Carson 1991, 376). Those who are blind will receive sight. In verse 39 Jesus acknowledges that the reverse also applies. Those who think they see reject the light of God, so are in darkness (Carson 1991, 377).
John 10:1-21 records a discussion of Jesus as the shepherd (Carson 1991, 379). Carson notes that some scholarship considers this to be a dislocated piece of material. He does not think it necessary to rearrange the narrative (Carson 1991, 380). In the text, Jesus compares himself to a shepherd as opposed to violent outsiders who harm the sheep. Carson makes the very natural connection to Ezekiel 34, along with other passages witha motif of sheep and shepherd (Carson 1991, 381). In verse six, since Jesus’ opponents do not understand what he is talking about, Jesus shifts to a more detailed explanation. The opponents do not understand this either (Carson 1991, 383). Carson considers the changes in metapho to be an expansion, not a completely different idea (Carson 1991, 384). The intensification includes the idea of the shepherd laying down his life. This is not an example. Rather, it is a substitution. The work of Jesus is clearly that of a savior (Carson 1991, 386). Carson goes on to emphasize that the New Testament never shows Jesus as merely an example to people who make themselves like him. It always sees Jesus as the savior who rescues helpless people. Further, Jesus dies not to earn the Father’s love, but in order to rise and gather others to the Father (Carson 1991, 388).
The remainder of John 10 sees Jesus making claims as the Christ. These claims result in open opposition (Carson 1991, 390). Carson gives a brief history of the Feast of Dedication from verses 22-23 (Carson 1991, 391). This Feast is now known as Hanukkah, also the Feast of Lights. Carson notes several reasons why Jesus would not want to proclaim himself the Messiah (Carson 1991, 392). Despite these reasons, Jesus begins to lay out what kind of Messiah he is in verse 25. Carson again notes that Jesus’ hearers, not being his “sheep,” are not going to understand (Carson 1991, 393). Nevertheless, the Fathe and Son have one will. Together they care for the sheep. Carson is clear that in verse 30 this refers to a “metaphysical unity,” not one person or merely of one will (Carson 1991, 395).
Because Jesus’ opponents understood him to be making claims to deity, they desired to kill him. Carson points out the urgency with which they may have wished to act (Carson 1991, 396). Jesus remains present long enough to press his claims more. His reference to Psalm 82 is decidedly cryptic. Carsn evaluates some of the possible explanations. He conludes that Jesus is giving a biblical reason not to assume that he is speaking wrongly. This buys him an opportunity to appeal again to his miracles (Carson 1991, 399). As the chapter ends, Jesus leaves Jerusalem to go back to where John was widely accepted. There he is contrasted to John, who did not do miracles (Carson 1991, 400).