Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
In John 8:46-59, Jesus says some things which threw his Jewish questioners into an uproar. Christians recognize that Jesus’ words here are true and right, that he had every reason to say what he did. Let’s evaluate some of those claims.
First, Jesus says that he is speaking God’s words and that his listeners are apparently not of God. For a little context, we think about verse 46, where Jesus asks how his listeners can convict him of sin, based on his words and deeds. The fact is that they can’t do so. He is telling them the truth and doing things consistent with the truth. Christians seek, though they often fail, to say and do everything in a way that is consistent with God’s Word. Others can convict us of sin, no doubt. But they can’t bring an attack against Jesus which will stand up. If we are honest about God’s Word, we will realize that.
Second, Jesus flatly rejects their claim that he is a Samaritan and that he has a demon. He is seeking God’s glory, not his own. He knows where he is from, and it is not Samaria. He is willing to be justified by God. The Samaritans were normally viewed as substandard in matters of faith. They were descendants of those who had been deported from Israel by the Assyrians and had intermarried with foreign nations before coming back. Their orthodoxy was not trusted, in general. Jesus points out here that he is trustworthy. Christians don’t rely on the way Christianity in general has been managed through history. It is informative, but we don’t consider it normative. Practices are continued because they hold up to biblical scrutiny. They fit in with what Jesus passed down to his apostles and they passed down to us. This is what Christians claim to be pleasing to God.
Jesus claims in this passage to be the one who will take death away from all those who keep his word. His critics observe that Abraham and the prophets died. Jesus is portraying himself as greater than they are. Jesus does agree with his critics in this matter. He is claiming to be greater than Abraham and the prophets. He claims precedence over Abraham, and goes so far as to say, “before Abraham was, I am” (v. 58, ESV). This claim, in popular linguistic usage, could well be tantamount to a claim to be God. The Jews who heard Jesus certainly understood this to be a statement which would be a capital offense. Jesus seemed to be claiming divine authority.
Christians recognize that in the death and resurrection of Christ, as well as his perfect obedience during his life, that Jesus is proven to be exactly who he says he is, exactly who the Jews thought he said he was. He shows himself to be the one who is greater than death itself. He claims to be greater than Abraham. He certainly appears to be the very God of very God.
How do we respond? Like the Jews, do we become angry and reject Jesus? Or do we recognize that he has a valid claim to rule over heaven, earth, and us as well? The Christian recognizes Jesus as the Lord of all.
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