Death isn’t a popular topic, yet Jesus wasn’t afraid to discuss death. He even went so far as to tell the Jews who were Pharisees:
Then Jesus said to them again, “I am going away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin. Where I go you cannot come…” John 8:21
Death is a topic we often avoid. Yet it is a fact we cannot escape. It is something we will all experience because it is appointed unto man once to die. It is not necessary, however, to “die in our sin.”
None of us wants to “die in our sin” so it would be wise to consider why Jesus said this to Jewish Pharisees of all people. They thought they were the only people who would be in heaven.
Throughout history there have been groups who thought they had an exclusive membership into heaven. Jews thought they would be the only folks there. There is a standing Protestant joke how people in heaven have to be extra quiet because certain denominations do not know others are there. In other words, some think they will be the only ones in heaven. This is true of many groups, sects, cults etc. Now here is Jesus telling one of these groups, “I am going away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin. Where I go you cannot come…”
Looking carefully at the situation and at the people to whom Jesus spoke we find that he is speaking to the most ‘religious’ people of the times. He was speaking to the Pharisees. The Pharisees were a highly regarded group of Jews who were separatists. They studied the law, and told others how it should be interpreted. They believed they were the few who did not sin in their society.
Another thing we see is that they did not know who Jesus was and they would not believe all that He said. They essentially believed the scriptures, but would not believe what Jesus said:
John 8:13 The Pharisees therefore said to Him, “You bear witness of Yourself; Your witness is not true.”
They didn’t know who Jesus was or where He was going although He had performed the work only God can perform and He had told them:
John 8:14 Jesus answered and said to them, “Even if I bear witness of Myself, My witness is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from and where I am going.”
Because of this Jesus had this exchange with them:
John 8:19 Then they said to Him, “Where is Your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither Me nor My Father. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also.”
Because they would not believe Jesus said:
John 8:21 Then Jesus said to them again, “I am going away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin. Where I go you cannot come.”
Later in that same time-frame, when they asked him plainly, (vs 53) “Who do you make Yourself out to be?” Jesus said:
John 8:51, 58 “Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death” “Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”
Throughout the Bible, we have a choice. We can remain in our sin and die or we can turn to the Lord in obedience and faith and in so doing, choose life.