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Facing Doubters, Deniers, and Defenders

Facing Doubters, Deniers, and Defenders

To understand John 3:16 — indeed to understand Jesus — this title is required reading: “... one and only Son...”

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. — John 3:16

Jesus, the one and only.

The Greek word for “one and only” is monogenes, an adjective compounded of monos — “only” and genes — “species, race, family, offspring, kind.” When used in the Bible, it almost always describes a parent-child relationship. Luke uses it to describe the widow’s son: “the only son of his mother” (Luke 7:12). The writer of Hebrews states: “Abraham... was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac” (Hebrews 11:17 NLT).

John employs the term five times, in each case highlighting the unparalleled relationship between Jesus and God.

The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. — John 1:14

No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is Himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made Him known. — John 1:18

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. — John 3:16

Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. — John 3:18

This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. — 1 John 4:9

In all five appearances the adjective modifies the subject “Son.”

“Monogenes,” then, highlights the singular relationship between Jesus and God. He is a Son in a sense that no one else is. All who call on Him are children of God, but Jesus alone is the Son of God. Only Christ is called “monogenes,” because only Christ has God’s genes or genetic makeup.

The familiar translation “only begotten Son” (John 3:16 NKJV) conveys this truth. When parents “beget” or conceive a child, they transfer their DNA to the newborn. Jesus shares God’s DNA. He isn’t begotten in the sense that He began but in the sense that He and God have the same essence, same eternal essence, unending wisdom, tireless energy.

Every quality you give God, you can give Jesus.

Jesus claimed:

Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father! — John 14:9 NLT

And the epistle concurred:

This Son perfectly mirrors God, and is stamped with God’s nature. — Hebrews 1:3 The Message

Jesus enjoys a relationship with God that is unknown and unexperienced by anyone else in history; He claims to occupy the Christ the Redeemer perch. Through the pen of Matthew He gives two features of the relationship.

My Father has entrusted everything to Me. No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him. — Matthew 11:27 NLT

Via these words He calls Himself the One and Only Ruler.

My Father has entrusted everything to Me. — Matthew 11:27 NLT

With that holy authority came power. Power to condemn, power to forgive, and the wisdom and discernment necessary for both. The Son understood this responsibility. Never more so than one day at the temple...

The voices had yanked her out of bed.

“Get up, you harlot.”

“What kind of woman do you think you are?”

Priests had slammed open the bedroom door, thrown back the window curtains, and pulled off the covers. Before she felt the warmth of the morning sun, she had felt the heat of their scorn.

“Shame on you.”



She scarcely had time to cover her body before they marched her through the narrow streets. Dogs yelped. Roosters ran. Women leaned out their windows. Mothers snatched children off the path. Merchants peered out the doors of their shops. Jerusalem became a jury and rendered its verdict with glares and crossed arms.

And as if the bedroom raid and parade of shame were inadequate, the men thrust her into the middle of a morning Bible class.

Early the next morning [Jesus] was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and He sat down and taught them. As He was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.
“Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do You say?” — John 8:2–5 NLT

Stunned students stood on one side of her. Pious plaintiffs on the other. They had their questions and convictions; she had her dangling negligee and smeared lipstick. “This woman was caught in the act of adultery,” her accusers crowed. Caught in the very act. In the moment. In the arms. In the passion. Caught in the act by the Jerusalem Council on Decency and Conduct. “The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”

The woman had no exit. Deny the accusation? She had been caught. Plead for mercy? From whom? From God? His spokesmen were squeezing stones and snarling their lips. No one would speak for her.

But someone would stoop for her.

Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust. — John 8:6 NLT

We would expect Him to stand up, step forward, or even ascend a stair and speak. But instead He leaned over. He descended lower than anyone else — beneath the priests and the people and even beneath the woman. The accusers looked down on her. To see Jesus, they had to look down even farther.

He’s prone to stoop. He stooped to wash feet, to embrace children. Stooped to pull Peter out of the sea, to pray in the garden. He stooped before the Roman whipping post. Stooped to carry the Cross. Grace is a God who stoops. Here he stooped to write in the dust.

Remember the first occasion His fingers touched dirt? He scooped soil and formed Adam. As he touched the sunbaked soil beside the woman, Jesus may have been reliving the Creation moment, reminding Himself from whence we came. Earthly humans are prone to do earthy things. Maybe Jesus wrote in the soil for His own benefit.

Or for hers? To divert gaping eyes from the scantily clad, just-caught woman who stood in the center of the circle?

The posse grew impatient with the silent, stooping Jesus.

They kept demanding an answer, so He stood up. — John 8:7 NLT

He lifted Himself erect until His shoulders were straight and His head was high. He stood, not to preach, for His words would be few. Not for long, for He would soon stoop again. Not to instruct His followers; He didn’t address them. He stood on behalf of the woman. He placed Himself between her and the lynch mob and said,

‘All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!’ Then He stooped down again and wrote in the dust. — John 8:7–8 NLT

Name-callers shut their mouths. Rocks fell to the ground. Jesus resumed His scribbling.

When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. — John 8:9 NLT

Jesus wasn’t finished. He stood one final time and asked the woman,

Where are your accusers? — John 8:10 NLT

My, my, my. What a question — not just for her but for us. Voices of condemnation awaken us as well.

“You aren’t good enough.”
“You’ll never improve.”
“You failed — again.”
The voices in our world.
And the voices in our heads! Who is this morality patrolman who issues a citation at every stumble? Who reminds us of every mistake? Does he ever shut up?

No. Because Satan never shuts up. The apostle John called him the accuser:

This great dragon — the ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world — was thrown down to the earth with all his angels. Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the Heavens, ‘... For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth — the one who accuses them before our God day and night’. — Revelation 12:9–10 NLT

Day after day, hour after hour. Relentless, tireless. The accuser makes a career out of accusing. Unlike the conviction of the Holy Spirit, Satan’s condemnation brings no repentance or resolve, just regret. He has one aim: “to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10 NLT). Steal your peace, kill your dreams, and destroy your future. He has deputized a horde of silver-tongued demons to help him. He enlists people to peddle his poison. Friends dredge up your past. Preachers proclaim all guilt and no grace. And parents, oh, your parents. They own a travel agency that specializes in guilt trips. They distribute it twenty-four hours a day. Long into adulthood you still hear their voices: “Why can’t you grow up?” “When are you going to make me proud?”

Condemnation — the preferred commodity of Satan. He will repeat the adulterous woman scenario as often as you permit him to do so, marching you through the city streets and dragging your name through the mud. He pushes you into the center of the crowd and megaphones your sin: This person was caught in the act of immorality... stupidity... dishonesty... irresponsibility.

But he will not have the last word. Jesus has acted on your behalf.

He stooped. Low enough to sleep in a manger, work in a carpentry shop, sleep in a fishing boat. Low enough to rub shoulders with crooks and lepers. Low enough to be spat upon, slapped, nailed, and speared. Low. Low enough to be buried.

And then He stood. Up from the slab of death. Upright in the tomb and right in Satan’s face. Tall. High. He stood up for the woman and silenced her accusers, and he does the same for you.


is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. — Romans 8:34 The Message

Let this sink in for a moment. In the presence of God, in defiance of Satan, Jesus Christ rises to your defense. He takes on the role of a priest.

Since we have a great priest over God’s house, let us come near to God with a sincere heart and a sure faith, because we have been made free from a guilty conscience. — Hebrews 10:21–22 NCV

A clean conscience. A clean record. A clean heart. Free from accusation. Free from condemnation. Not just for our past mistakes but also for our future ones.

Since He will live forever, He will always be there to remind God that He has paid for [our] sins with His blood. — Hebrews 7:25 TLB

Christ offers unending intercession on your behalf.

  • Jesus trumps the devil’s guilt with words of grace.

Excerpted with permission from In the Footsteps of the Savior by Max Lucado, copyright Max Lucado.

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Your Turn

No matter what your story of failure is, Jesus’ payment on the Cross covers it. No matter how many times you’ve embarrassed yourself by sinning outrageously, Jesus looks at you with compassion. He stoops for you. Come share your thoughts about on the one and only Son who loves you! ~ Devotionals Daily