BIBLE READING: John 7-8
One of the aspects of Jesus that the Jews found very difficult to accept was the pre-existence of Christ. In the beginning of his gospel, John tries to help us come to a clearer understanding in the first few verses. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God…and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…” (John 1:1-2, 14). As we read this today it is easier for us to understand and accept because we have the Will of God in its entirety laid out for us with the Scriptures. However, for the first century participant, Jesus had to fuller clarify so that they would fully understand it. He takes an opportunity to do that within the reading for the day. In John 8, the Jews are expressing doubt in Jesus, to the point of claiming He is possessed by a demon. Jesus replies that He doesn’t have a demon, but rather He is just honoring His Father. If they wish to do the same, they can keep His word and then they will never taste death. Their response is a classic one “Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘If anyone keeps My word, he will never taste death.’ Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died!” (John 8.52-53). Now before we begin to criticize them, remember this is the first century and they have had many others who have claimed to be the Messiah. Even though, none of those who had made that claim were able to do anything close to what Jesus was doing, it seems like a very rational line of thinking for a first century Jew. Jesus’ reply is nothing short of brilliant. “Jesus answered, "If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, 'He is our God.' But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him, and I keep his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad." So, the Jews said to him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?" Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am." (John 8:54-58) You can imagine how this may have upset them at first; they pick up stones to stone him. Yet, as time will show to many of them, Jesus was exactly right. Jesus was the fulfillment of Abraham’s Promise. These Jew’s had lived their entire life holding true to a promise and ancestry that would bring them salvation and peace yet wasn’t willing to accept it when they were face to face with its fulfillment. Today, many people still try to ignore all the evidence that points to the validity of Jesus being the Messiah. I pray that we can learn from Jesus’ comments to these Jews, so that we don’t make the same mistake that they did.