Friday, December 9, 2011

Before Abraham was, I Am

"Before Abraham was, I am" (John 8:58)

 Is it possible that Jesus Christ is God?  In John chapter 8 we see Jesus having a conversation with some of the scribes and Pharisees about the law.  They bring into the scene a woman who has been caught in adultery.  Basically they want Jesus to make judgment on how she ought to be treated.  Jesus shows her grace and mercy and then proceeds his conversation with this group.  Near the end of the conversation Jesus tells these religious leaders that they are of their father, the devil (44).  These men had to be shell shocked because they thought they were good, righteous people.  Their problem?  They were good, righteous people.  But good and righteous people have no need for Jesus.

I've often wondered why these religious, moralistic teachers hated Christ so much.  The conclusion: Because he claimed to be God.  We tend to think these religious leaders would like God but the issue is the fact that they enjoyed God at a distance.  They didn't want Jesus to be God because he was destroying their self-righteousness.  Jesus brought every person to a level playing field.  So he directs their attention to who he is by saying to them, "Before Abraham was, I am."  These Jewish teachers couldn't understand how Jesus could claim that he was before Abraham.  Abraham was their father so for Jesus to make this claim had huge implications.  They would have also understood the meaning behind: "I am."  Back in Exodus 3 we read, "God said to Moses, 'I AM WHO I AM'" (14).  This was Yahweh speaking back in Exodus and now Jesus was giving himself the same name.  These Jewish teachers knew exactly what Jesus was claiming which is why they were indignant.

Sadly in our day we tend not to pick up on these profound claims of Jesus.  We tend not to care because we want moralize his teachings.  We want to know what kind of impact it can have on our lives so we can go out and do what Jesus did.  We want to be like Jesus but we don't care to know Jesus.  Jesus was never a good moral teacher.  Jesus said and claimed the most outrageous things.  There are only two options when it comes to Christ: He is either a blasphemer or God.  He cannot be partly one and partly the other or both.  It isn't possible.  These Jewish teachers understood this completely which is why they wanted to kill him. Positive, motivational, moral teachers don't have groups of people constantly trying to kill them. Once the heat is on, they change their message to suit the haters.  Christ never changed his message.  Why?  Because he is the "I am" which means he is unchangeable.  Think about some of things Jesus taught: "Pick up your cross, deny self and follow me."  When did this become a good moral teaching in our society?  As sinners we do not want to die to ourselves. These are not good moral teachings but rather demands about how we live.  And we do not want someone telling us how to live.  These religious teachers did not want this either which is why they wanted Jesus dead.  But we also want him dead because he makes these demands.  He can make these demands though because he is God and he created us.

Christ is God.  He has always existed.  He is the eternal God who created the universe.  Either he is God or he is a blasphemer.  Those are the only options when you read what Christ said. My hope is that you will trust him as your Lord and Savior.  He is the One who humbled himself by coming to dwell among his creation for the purpose of saving his creation.  He came to die in our place.  He came to defeat our sin and take upon himself our death.  He proved his power over sin and death by triumphing over the grave three days after his death.  Only God could raise himself from the dead because he is the One who gives life.  Jesus is exactly who he claims to be: "Before Abraham was, I am" and he still is today.  Repent of your sin and trust in the risen Christ.

Grace upon grace,
JRL

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