About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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The Claims Of Jesus About Himself (ch.8:48 -58)


The Jews are furious at this point.  In verse 48 they ask Jesus, "arenít we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?"  The Jews are wrong on both counts.  Jesus was not a Samaritan.  The Jews hated Samaritans more than they hated Romans because Samaritans were once Jews who married into Gentile families. This would be just as much of an insult as calling Jesus demon-possessed.  You can see by their question that the Jews lumped the Samaritans in with demons.  They hated Samaritans that bad.


Jesus called the Jews the children of the devil, not the children of Abraham.  I see there question here in verse 48 as a reaction to this.  Jesus associates them with the devil so the Jews associate Jesus with demons.  Basically, they are saying, "you're the demonic one, not us."  


In verses 49 and 50 Jesus responds by saying that He is not demon-possessed, and that He gives honour to God His Father, and His Father wants to give glory to Him.  We see something in the relationship between the Father and Jesus that we should see in our own relationships here on earth, and that is, that we should be more interested in honouring one another than ourselves.  This does not come natural to human nature.  Submission to Jesus should begin to allow this to happen in our lives.  If we understand what it means to honour Jesus, we will have a good understanding what it means to honour one another.


Again, as we have been seeing throughout the book of John, John is majoring on events that show us the deity of Christ.  That is to say, Jesus is God in human flesh, something false teachers were denying when John wrote his account. 


In verse 50 Jesus says that God is the judge.  Ultimately, God is the ultimate universal judge. As seen in 1 Corinthians 15, after Jesus defeats every last enemy, including death, He will give back the authority God has given Him.  


In verse 51 Jesus makes it clear again when He says, "If anyone keeps my word, he will never see death."  When speaking of keeping Jesusí word, Jesus is not only speaking of obeying Him but guarding His words.  The picture that the Greek text portrays is a guarding on the basis of trust and obedience.  That is to say, we trust what Jesus says, and we obey it.  Once obeying His word, we donít tamper with it, or let anyone else tamper with it.  With this in mind, we will have eternal life.  If we tamper with Godís word or lay aside our trust in it, we will eventually loose eternal life.  Hosea 4:6 states that God's people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.  This is a real important message for the Evangelical church today. 


In verses 52 and 53 the Jewish response to this was simply, "Who do you think you are, offering eternal life?"  They ask if Jesus is greater than Abraham and the prophets who have died.  How could Jesus be greater than these great heroes of Israel ?  Well, in fact He was.  The Jews had a mental disconnect with Jesus, as they have had all along.  They thought Jesus was talking about physical death.  They thought Jesus was telling them that if they believed in Him, they would not die a physical death.  That was not what Jesus was saying.  He was speaking of the resurrection from the dead, something that some of the Jews didn't believe in.  


In verse 54 Jesus repeats Himself again. He says that He does not try to get glory for Himself.  Whatever He does is not for self gratification, but to gratify His Father.  Again, modern day church leaders need to hear this truth.


When speaking of Jesus being glorified I believe that His ultimate glorification came when He returned to Heaven to be with His Father.  The definition of the word "glory" can be seen in John 17:1 when Jesus asked His Father to glorify Him with the glory that they once had when prior to being incarnated here on earth.  


In verse 55 Jesus gets very bold.  He says that He knows His Father and the Jews donít, even though they claim to know God through Abraham.  Then Jesus says that if He claimed not to know God, Heíd be a liar like them.  He is calling these Jewish leaders liars.  These are the words of the Son of God.  Many people today would have a hard time believing that Jesus would actually say such words.


We need to understand that if Jesus was calling these people are liar; that is a judgment call that He is making.  Now, a number of times Jesus has said that God is the judge, not Him.  How do we reconcile that thought with the point that here Jesus made a judgment call.  God is the ultimate judge.  He will judge humanity in what has been called the White Throne Judgment as we see in Revelation 20.  Judging in that sense of the word is different than making a judgment call as Jesus made here.    


In verse 56 Jesus says an interesting thing.  He says, "Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and saw it and was glad."  How did Abraham see the days that Jesus lived on earth?  I believe he saw it through the eyes of faith.  He knew what God had promised Him, and since God made him a promise, he was convinced that it would come true.  Though Abraham did not physically see the days of Jesus, those days were as good as being in His life time because God had promised that these days would come.  If God says something will happen, though it hasnít happened yet, you might as well count on it as if it has happened, because it will. If God says something will be done, it is as good as done.


Verse 57 is the Jewish response to these words.  They questioned the words of Jesus because they could not understand how Jesus could have seen Abraham, not being more than 50 years old Himself. Once again, they think Jesus is insane or demon-possessed.


Verse 58 is very important and many sermons have been spoken from this text.  Jesus says, "Before Abraham was born, I am."  Normally someone would say, "Before he was, I was."  For example, a father would say, "Before my son was born I was," as in, "was in existence."  But, Jesus doesnít say, "Before Abraham was, I was."  He says, "Before Abraham was, I am."  He is mixing time and space with eternity in one sentence.  Abraham was born into time and space.  Jesus is always in the eternal present.  By saying "I am" and not "I was", tells us that the past in human terms is just as real as the present.  There is no past, present, or future in eternity.  Even as Jesus lived His earthly life, He was an eternal being, without having a past, present, or future.  Jesus is telling the Jews that He always existed.  He was never born or created, as God Himself is. He was in existence before Abraham was even born.


When Jesus used the words "I am", the Jewish leaders knew exactly what He was saying.  These words would have reminded them of Exodus 3:14 when God said, "I AM that I AM."   Jesus was simply saying, "I AM God in human flesh." No wonder the Jews were so angry.    


At this point the Jews had only one thing to do and that was to stone Jesus for blasphemy, that is, making Himself equal with God, for that was the penalty for blasphemy.

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