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|Posted on April 21, 2016 at 8:20 PM||comments (0)|
Before Abraham Was, I Am
John 8:48 (ESV) The Jews answered him, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?”
First, the Jewish leaders called Jesus an illegitimate half-breed, and then they said He was demon possessed! The Samaritans were despised for intermarrying with the pagan peoples around them who worshipped idols. As we pointed out in the story of the woman at the well, Jews often went out of their way to avoid Samaria. So this was a double put-down. They not only refused to believe Jesus was God, but they thought He was of the devil. God and Satan cannot live in the same vessel, so if Jesus had a demon He could not be the Son of God. I believe these Jews were scraping around in their brains for a way to explain Jesus’ miraculous powers apart from God, so they accredited them to a demon. They were giving themselves migraines because they could not admit Jesus was God incarnate and had to find a way to refute Him. In accusing Jesus of blasphemy and demon possession, they were themselves committing blasphemy by attributing God’s work to someone or something other than God. They were committing the same thing they accused Jesus of doing.
John 8:49 Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. 50 Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge.
Jesus calmly stated that He did not have a demon, but He was obedient to God the Father. The Jewish leaders continually tried to discredit and slander Jesus. They dragged His name through the mud even though the signs He performed obviously pointed to the power of God working through Him. Their words were a brutal and methodical character assassination fueled by jealousy, lies, and deceit. Jesus, the Son, did not seek His own glory, but the Father glorified Him. Jesus constantly attributed His works to the Father who sent Him and instructed Him rather than claiming them for Himself. Jesus declared that the Father was going to judge these false accusers at the appointed time.
John 8:51 Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.”
Despite the fact that they were accusing and abusing Him, Jesus offered them the way to eternal life. In the midst of their tenacious, relentless tirade against Him, Jesus explained that the way to never see death was to believe and follow Him. The physical body will die, but the soul and spirit of those who believe and trust in Jesus can never be extinguished. Physical death on earth does not conquer eternal life.
John 8:52 The Jews said to him, “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.’ 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?”
They didn’t get it. How many times did Jesus have to say it, and how many times did they need to hear it in order to believe? They pointed out that all the Jewish heroes of faith had ultimately died. They could visit their tombs. The ruling party at that time were mostly Sadducees who did not believe in a bodily resurrection, so this would make no sense to them. They still did not perceive that Jesus was not speaking in terms of never physically experiencing death. For those who trust in the Lord Jesus, death is a blink that leads to being in the presence of the Lord forever.
2 Corinthians 5:6-8 (NASB) Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord— for we walk by faith, not by sight— we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.
I do not know what form we will take until our bodies are resurrected at the second coming of the Lord, but I do know that when our earthly bodies die, we will be with Jesus instantaneously. That is enough for me! The religious rulers again demanded to know who Jesus was or thought Himself to be. He had told them over and over and over, but their eyes were blind and their ears were deaf as far as discerning that His words were true. Isaiah prophesied about them:
Isaiah 6:10 Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”
John 8:54 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.’
Jesus was saying that if He tooted His own horn, it would be only narcissism. The Jews claimed to know God and be His children, but still could not see that God was glorifying Jesus the Son. Jesus had previously pointed out that God verified His deity through the miracles He was able to do. The Sadducees and Pharisees said they knew God but did not recognize His divine artistry at work!
John 8:55 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.
When Jesus said He “knew” the Father, He was claiming to be in intimate relationship with Him. Then He stated that they did not “know” God. They were NOT in intimate relationship with God. Then He called them liars because they claimed to know God. To know God for Jesus was to walk in obedience to His will.
John 15:10 (NASB) If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.
Jesus obeyed God, and we are to obey God. As we trust Jesus, the Holy Spirit will enable us to obey willingly, being secure in the Father’s love and trusting that His will is what is the absolute best for us. God knows His divine plan for us which is always for His glory and our good.
John 8:56 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.”
Abraham had the divine revelation, God’s promise to him, that through his seed, the Jews and ultimately the world would be blessed. The promise was Abraham’s, but the timing was God’s. Abraham believed God even though he waited years to have a son. Abraham did die and was buried; but as noted above, because of his belief, at the time of Jesus’ incarnation, he was with God. Therefore, Abraham DID rejoice to see Jesus’ day. He finally got to see the promise come to fruition.
John 8:57 So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?”
The Jews were saying that Jesus was just a young whippersnapper, so how could He have seen Abraham? Since they did not believe Him to be deity, they could not understand how a man His age could claim to have met a patriarch who had been dead for hundreds of years. As usual, they were stuck in the physical realm.
John 8:58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”
Here Jesus claimed pre-existence which was claiming deity. By using “I AM,” Jesus declared Himself to be equal with God the Father. You probably remember that “I AM” was the name God told Moses to use when telling the Israelites who sent him.
John 8:59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.
In the eyes of the religious leaders, Jesus had committed blasphemy by saying “I AM.” This was a sin punishable by death according to the Law of Moses. So they each grabbed a handful of rocks in order to stone Him. Did He have an invisible cloak or what? (Too much “Lord of the Rings”) We really do not know exactly how Jesus hid Himself in the middle of a crowd, but He got out of Dodge, or in this case, the temple. As usual, “His time had not yet come.”
Q – Have you heard the statement that Jesus either was God as He claimed, was a lunatic for believing Himself to be God, or was pure evil for deceiving people? What you believe about Jesus determines your final outcome. Trusting in Jesus as the God-Man who died for you…Believing His word…is the only way to spend eternity with Him in paradise. Have you surrendered yourself to His will? Are you living out His purpose for you?
|Posted on April 19, 2016 at 10:10 PM||comments (0)|
John 8:37 (ESV) I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you.
Of course these Jewish religious leaders were biological descendants of Abraham. Genealogies being very important in the Jewish culture, these men would be able to track their family tree back to their forefather Abraham. Jesus did not dispute that fact. However, Jesus also knew that they did not believe God like their patriarch Abraham had believed.
Romans 4:3 What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
John the Baptist had already pointed out that their physical relationship to Abraham would not save them from the wrath of God:
Matthew 3:8-10 (NASB) Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance; and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore, every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
These men who claimed Abraham as their father sought to kill the promised descendent of Abraham through whom the Jews and all the nations would be blessed! Abraham’s belief was counted to him as righteousness. The faith of Abraham made him right with God. The Pharisees and Sadducees were physical descendants of Abraham, but they did not follow his spiritual heritage. They claimed Abraham as their father but did emulate His closeness to the Lord. They followed rules, but had no relationship. Abraham was their claim to fame, empty notoriety. They were name-droppers. They claimed to know God but did not recognize Him in the words of His only begotten Son.
John 8:38 I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.”
Jesus’ Father is God who is in Heaven above. Jesus taught the things He had personally heard and witnessed while in Heaven with the Father. Since the religious leaders had claimed to be Abraham’s children, was Jesus saying they did things Abraham had told them? NO! Jesus implied that these Jews were NOT emulating their father Abraham’s example. Therefore, they were not behaving as God the Father directed either.
John 8:39 They answered him, “Abraham is our father.”
The Jewish leaders were a perpetual broken record. I wonder if they thought Jesus was “slow” or “dense” because they kept saying the same thing over and over again. Or were they senile and forgot what they had told Him. They kept falling back on their Jewish heritage rather than admitting that each of them individually was lacking in the faith required to trust God. They were claiming what Abraham had done, and were not taking into account their personal accountability. As if, they, like spoiled children, could ride on his coattails forever. This would be like me saying that because my father was an engineer working on F-111 and F-16 airplanes, I would be qualified to do the same without learning any of the required math and science myself.
John 8:39b Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham's children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, 40 but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. 41 You are doing the works your father did.”
Jesus pointed out once more that these men were not behaving in any way, shape, or form as Abraham would. If Abraham was their father, they needed to shape up or ship out. Jesus confronted them again with the fact that they wanted to kill Him even though He spoke under the authority of God Himself. Jesus boldly addressed the fact that they had murder in their hearts. All He had done was to share the truth of God with them. As we have noted before, the miraculous signs Jesus performed validated that He was from God. Once again, He accused them of “doing the works your father did.” He made it clear their father could NOT be God. Their claim to the SPIRITUAL lineage of Abraham was not legitimate.
John 8:41b They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God.”
So the Jews came back with a dig questioning the legitimacy of Jesus’ own birth. They made the assumption that Mary was unfaithful to Joseph since she was already pregnant when they married. Jesus had said all along that God was His Father. They claimed that God was their Father, that they were in relationship with Him. But there is no relationship to the Father without relationship to the Son. If they were truly children of the living God, they would have recognized His Son and followed Him.
John 8:42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. 43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word.
Not only would they recognize the Son if God were their Father, they would LOVE Him. If they were truly children of God, they would not only have recognized and followed Jesus but would have wanted to be taught by Him since His authority was much higher than theirs. However, they did not understand Him. The theological knowledge of Jesus dethroned the religious leaders as if they were babies in need of milk instead of being able to be leaders in the temple. They could not bear to hear His words because it would mean admitting that He was closer to God and had more knowledge of God’s ways than they did.
John 8:44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
Jesus called them the devil’s children! Since they were too prideful to see what He was subtly saying, He just stated it point blank. The fruit does not fall far from the tree, so their murderous thoughts toward Jesus were in keeping with the fact that spiritually they were being led by Satan. The father of lies is who inspired them to bear false witness against Jesus. Satan caused the accusers within the Sadducees and Pharisees to make false claims about Jesus. One example follows:
Mark 3:22 And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.”
Since the teachers of the law did not believe Jesus and were blinded to the truth that He was the Son of God, they discouraged others from believing by telling lies about Him.
John 8:45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. 46 Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? 47 Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”
Jesus was calling the teachers, the religious leaders, deaf to the words of God. He once explained this deafness and blindness to His disciples to help them know why they could understand many of the parables but others could not.
Matthew 13:11-15 (MSG) He replied, “You’ve been given insight into God’s kingdom. You know how it works. Not everybody has this gift, this insight; it hasn’t been given to them. Whenever someone has a ready heart for this, the insights and understandings flow freely. But if there is no readiness, any trace of receptivity soon disappears. That’s why I tell stories: to create readiness, to nudge the people toward receptive insight. In their present state they can stare till doomsday and not see it, listen till they’re blue in the face and not get it. I don’t want Isaiah’s forecast repeated all over again: ‘Your ears are open but you don’t hear a thing. Your eyes are awake but you don’t see a thing. The people are blockheads! They stick their fingers in their ears so they won’t have to listen; They screw their eyes shut so they won’t have to look, so they won’t have to deal with me face-to-face and let me heal them.’
Those who truly belong to Jesus and, therefore, to God the Father are able to understand the truth. The Jewish religious leaders were not able to understand Jesus’ words because they had “form-ship” but no fellowship. They mechanically obeyed the Law but would not admit their inability to do so perfectly. So they completely missed out on the fact that Jesus was the Savior they needed in order to overcome sin and the world. God had their bodies, but what He desired and required was their hearts; and He did not have their hearts. Their bodies were surrendered, but their hearts were not. They fulfilled ritualistic observances but completely failed in the area of loving God with all their hearts, souls, and minds which is the first and greatest commandment. When you break the first commandment, you’re done. You’re sunk before you begin swimming. That’s why Jesus had to come.
Q – Are you an excellent rule follower? Do you choose the moral high ground because it was drilled into you by your parents? But are you missing out on the joy of loving and being loved unconditionally by Jesus who died for you? Only His Holy Spirit living within you can transform you into the person God wants you to be. Stop striving, and start trusting!