Read John 8
What do you do when Jesus tells you that your father is the Devil?
You fire back that he is a demon. He is a Samaritan. He’s a Longhorn. He’s from California. He does drink Dr. Pepper.
The problem was that Jesus spoke the truth and the Jews were grasping at straws. The Jews wanted to claim God as their Father but Jesus had called them out. He said that God sent him, he did the Father’s will, and you dishonored him.
I will give you the same theological term as before: Ouch!
Jesus told them again that life—eternal life—was in him. Believe and you will not die. He did not come to condemn the world but to save it.
That set them off. Everybody has died. All the patriarchs died. Are you greater than them?
Jesus told them that Abraham rejoiced at seeing his day.
That set the sparks a flyin’. Now we know that you are possessed by a demon. You are not even 50 years old. Abraham lived a long, long time ago. You are saying things that you can’t possibly know. We gotcha now!
Jesus said: Before Abraham was, I am.
There is no subtlety here. This is not the non-confrontation approach we saw at the beginning of the chapter with the woman brought before Jesus. This is in your face: I Am!
Now they were ready to kill Jesus for sure. He could not say this unless he was indeed the Son of God and they were not going to believe that.
Jesus slipped away before anyone could do anything. We know from our other reading that his time had not yet come.
Think on these words: Before Abraham was, I am.
We often think of the 7 I Am statements in John, but there are many more. The 7 statements are metaphors that Jesus used, but he used the words egō eimi or I Am more than within those 7 statements. Each time they speak the words that God spoke to Moses.
Jesus is proclaiming his divinity. He is affirming he is of the Father and sent by the Father. The truth that could set these men free from sin stood before them as the promised Anointed One, but their hearts had already been hardened and all they wanted to do was kill him.
What should we receive from this pericope? It should give us a great perspective on Philippians 2 for one thing. Jesus has always been. He stepped out of heaven to live as a man, even from birth, to fulfill the law and the prophets, and go to the cross as the unblemished Lamb that takes away the sin of the world.
Later in John’s gospel, Jesus confided in his disciples that he is in the Father and the Father in him. If you know Jesus, then you know the Father. They speak the same language: I Am. They go by the same name: I Am.
The Jews were so wanting to claim God and Abraham as their Fathers. They wanted to be counted righteous because of their efforts to follow the law that came through Moses, yet they were blind to the truth and he was standing right in front of them.
Jesus gave them the name that his Father sent with Moses to deliver the slaves from Egypt. It did not resonate with the Jews because they were not seeking after God.
For some time, the Jews had been asking: Just who is this man?
Is he prophet? Is he demon?
Does he come in the name of God? Does he come only on his own behalf?
Is he the Christ? Is he an imposter?
How can one from Galilee be who he says
He is the carpenter’s kid, right?
Why have we not been able to trap him with our questions?
Can he be from God and be at work on the Sabbath?
Just who is this man?