Summary: This begins our series on the seven I Ams in the book of John. This message looks at what moved people from believing in Jesus to wanting to stone him.
Do you have a favourite musical group? No doubt it has changed through the years. When I was a young teen, I liked the Monkeys. Then I graduated into a number of the Canadian Bands, BTO, Five Man Electrical Band, Trooper, April Wine.
When I went to Bible college, most of those groups were frowned upon so I gravitated to the Imperials.
In my late twenties and early thirties, I discovered the Highwaymen. That would be Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash. We actually got to see them in concert while we were living in Australia.
The summer we launched Cornerstone; 1995, I found a new favourite group. It was a small-time pub band that played at Bedford Days that year. Maybe you’ve heard of them. Great Big Sea.
In 1997 the band had a hit with a song called, “How’d we get from Saying I Love You.”
The chorus goes,
It's an awkward conversation in a most peculiar way...
How did we get from saying 'I love you'
To 'I'll see you around someday'
How does a relationship move from one extreme to another? And we’ve all seen it or experienced it ourselves. Best of friends and then not even speaking. Sometimes it’s an event that happens, someone gets hurt or offended or sometimes it’s just time and distance.
And most of us have seen it in marriages. When two people move from being lovers to simply being roommates. They went from two becoming one and then went back to one becoming two again. They don’t hate each other, there’s no abuse, and they’ve simply decided the benefits of staying together outweigh the cost of divorce.
And unfortunately, we’ve all been witness to when someone moves from being a passionate follower of Jesus to a lukewarm believer or an agnostic or atheist.
There were a number of people I went to Bible college with who were passionately in love with Jesus, and yet somehow, they’ve gone from saying 'I love you' To 'I'll see you around someday'
And the common factor in each of those cases that I mentioned is that it usually takes time. It doesn’t just happen overnight.
In the scripture that we are looking at this morning we see that very thing happen, but in a very condensed period of time.
The reading ended with these words, John 8:58–59 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I AM!” At that point they picked up stones to throw at him. . .
I’ve read that dozens of times and have referenced that text numerous times through the years, but this was the first time that I realized where the story actually began.
It begins in verse 31, with these words, John 8:31–32 Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
How do you go from, “Jesus said to the people who believed in him” to “At that point they (the people who believed in him) picked up stones to throw at him”?
We are starting a new series at Cornerstone entitled “I AM”, and we’ll be looking at the various times in the book of John that Jesus uses the phrase “I am” to describe himself and his characteristics.
Over the next eight weeks we’ll explore Jesus’ words when he made familiar statements like, I am the Light or the world, I am the good shepherd, and I am the gate.
But this morning, in this scripture, Jesus didn’t say “I am something”, he simply said “I am”. And that’s what got him in trouble, but more of that later.
So, what moved the crowd? What moved them from believing in Jesus, to wanting to stone Jesus? And is there something we can learn there? Something we can take away that will help our relationship with Him and perhaps help us to understand what happens in other’s relationship with Him?
So let’s go back to where the story begins, John 8:31–32 Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
The crowd is defined as “people who believed in him.” But who defined them that way? I would suspect the crowd themselves would have said that they believed in Jesus. And it’s easy to believe in Jesus, at least in the abstract.
I would suspect that there are a lot of people in our community, and maybe even in our church who would have no problem saying that they believe in Jesus. The question would be: What Jesus do they believe in? And we are going to look at that a little deeper as we go along.