ATP Blog #60
Out of all the names of Jesus in the Bible, which one states His identity the clearest? I am sorry if the title kind of gives this away ... at least the topic of conversation today. When the gospels talk about ‘the Jews’, the writer is referring to the religious leaders, the Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes, and Rabbis. In our passage today, these groups of men further frustrate Jesus by asking Him regarding His identity ... again! It seems that they do not like His answer, so they keep asking, hoping that He will slip up and answer differently.
Accusation After accusing the religious leaders of being children of the devil, they retaliate by accusing Jesus, ‘Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?’ Part of me wants to ask, ‘What kind of question is that?’ They knew that He was a Son of Israel from Galilee, and that He displayed no characteristics of demon possession. It would seem that their emotions were getting out of control. Yet, Jesus calmly (although I am convinced He was doing a face palm) answered them, ‘I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me.’
Advice Jesus graciously advised all those in earshot, ‘If anyone keeps My word, he shall never see death.’ This came after He clearly reminded them that He wasn’t seeking His own glory, but that ‘there is One who seeks and judges.’ He was speaking, of course, regarding the Father in Heaven. Obedience to God, which includes belief in His Son, is the way to eternal life.
Assumptions The leaders then got very frustrated, not understanding at all what Jesus is talking about. ‘Now we know that You have a demon! Abraham is dead, and the prophets;’ All I can say is, ‘Wow!’ Of course Abe is dead, but the covenant that Israel is to be living under is not, neither are God’s promises to Abe. People die, but God’s Word never dies! Again, the leaders are going under the assumption that Jesus was a human being (not divine), and not the Son of God as He claimed.
Abe Jesus answered them patiently, letting them know that He was seeking to honour the God that they claimed to worship. ‘Yet you have not known Him, but I know Him. ... Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it, and was glad.’ Woah! Jesus is not only claiming to be God, He is also claiming that Abraham is alive somewhere, seeing the fulfillment of God’s promises to him!!! This baffled the leaders, who asked, ‘You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?’
Announcement ‘Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”’ This is a huge announcement! Not only is Jesus claiming to be the Eternal God, He is taking on the name that God chose to give Moses at the burning bush, the name that would encapsulate His identity; two words that would demonstrate much of His character and authority. He did not say, ‘I was’, nor did He say, ‘I will be’, or even, ‘I am’. He said, ‘I AM.’ Jesus may have been born of a woman on a specific date, but He has always existed, and always will. By being in all caps, Jesus (and God) is saying that He exists outside of time, and has authority over all things, even time. The sign that the leaders finally understood what He was saying is in the following verse: ‘Then they took up stones to throw at Him;’ Jesus ducked out of the area, avoiding the stones, and further aggravating discussion.
All in How do you respond to Jesus’ announcement? He could not be clearer on who He is. decide today how you will respond. The best way to respond is to believe and obey!