Read: John 8:48-59
Consider: Have you ever wondered why the Pharisees decided to stone Jesus? Jesus’ claim that ‘… before Abraham was born, I am!’ (John 8:58) could surely have been passed off as Jesus being deluded. The Pharisees had already confronted Jesus in the following terms: ‘You are not yet fifty years old,’ they said to him, ‘and you have seen Abraham!’ (8:57). Just two small words led the Pharisees to pick up stones, ready to kill Jesus. These words are ‘I am’ (8:59).
To see the significance of Jesus’ claim we need to look back to an incident recorded in Exodus when Moses met God: God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you’ (Exodus 3:14). Jesus was claiming to be God and the Pharisees had two options: to fall at his feet in worship or stone him for blasphemy. Another attempted stoning incident is recorded later in John’s gospel: ‘My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no-one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.’ Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, ‘I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?’ ‘We are not stoning you for any good work,’ they replied, ‘but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God’ (John 10:29-33). Jesus made the same claim (to be God) and it produced the same negative reaction in the religious elite of his day.
Interestingly, elsewhere in the John’s gospel we read that Jesus said:
‘I am the bread of life’ (John 6:35);
‘I am the light of the world’ (John 8:12; 9:5);
‘I am the gate’(John 10:7);
‘I am the good shepherd’ (John 10:14);
‘I am the resurrection and the life’ (John 11:25);
‘I am the way and the truth and the life’ (John 14:6);
‘I am the vine’ (John 15:5).
In all of these Jesus is claiming to be God and the reaction of many people to these claims today is one of hostility. Have you ever noticed that when people are confronted with the claims of other religions they are generally respectful of the other person’s beliefs, yet the claims of the Jesus Christ produce a negative reaction in them? This is not because Jesus’ claims are false, but because they are true.
On that day you will realise that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you (John 14:20).
Pray: Father, we pray that the world will come to know that Jesus really is your Son. We ask for those who hear the claims of Jesus, that your Holy Spirit would soften their hearts and draw them to you in repentance. Amen