Summary: A devotion for young believers
“MOST ASSUREDLY, I SAY TO YOU, IF ANYONE KEEPS MY WORD HE SHALL NEVER SEE DEATH.” 52 THEN THE JEWS SAID TO HIM, “NOW WE KNOW THAT YOU HAVE A DEMON! ABRAHAM IS DEAD, AND THE PROPHETS; AND YOU SAY, ‘IF ANYONE KEEPS MY WORD HE SHALL NEVER TASTE DEATH.’ 53 “ARE YOU GREATER THAN OUR FATHER ABRAHAM, WHO IS DEAD? AND THE PROPHETS ARE DEAD. WHO DO YOU MAKE YOURSELF OUT TO BE?” 54 JESUS ANSWERED, “IF I HONOR MYSELF, MY HONOR IS NOTHING. IT IS MY FATHER WHO HONORS ME, OF WHOM YOU SAY THAT HE IS YOUR GOD. 55 “YET YOU HAVE NOT KNOWN HIM, BUT I KNOW HIM. AND IF I SAY, ‘I DO NOT KNOW HIM,’ I SHALL BE A LIAR LIKE YOU; BUT I DO KNOW HIM AND KEEP HIS WORD. 56 “YOUR FATHER ABRAHAM REJOICED TO SEE MY DAY, AND HE SAW IT AND WAS GLAD.” 57 THEN THE JEWS SAID TO HIM, “YOU ARE NOT YET FIFTY YEARS OLD, AND HAVE YOU SEEN ABRAHAM?” 58 JESUS SAID TO THEM, “MOST ASSUREDLY, I SAY TO YOU, BEFORE ABRAHAM WAS, I AM.”
The Pharisees were an elite group of Jewish religious leaders. By the time of Jesus’ day, they had long since abandoned true relationship with God. They had forgotten why He gave the commands He did for sacrifice and worship; and those same forms of worship had become dry rituals for them to obey, even though they didn’t remember why anymore.
That is the problem with many Christians and many churches these days. People go because they feel they should go to church, and far too often, they never hear the truth of God’s word in those churches. They are taught that in order to be accepted by God, they must do these certain things, and then they will be “ok”. Like praying just the right kind of prayer, giving enough money to the church, singing the right songs and repeating the right things back to the priest or pastor.
That is why the Pharisees were always in conflict with Jesus. He was God in the flesh, and He was trying to tell them that what He wanted was a relationship. He wanted fellowship with His created beings. He preferred obedience, more than sacrifice. But they didn’t recognize Him.
Notice in verses 52 and 53 they say that Abraham and the prophets are dead; but to God, those who have believed in Him and left this world are not dead; they are very much alive, and with Him. Jesus knew this very well. He knew that Abraham was not really dead, but alive in God. He had been there to see Abraham rejoice when He, Jesus, was about to come to earth. See verse 56? Read verses 57 and 58.
When Jesus said, “I AM”, He used the Hebrew language, and used the same words that had been used when God spoke to Moses from the burning bush hundreds of years before. Moses had said, “Who shall I say sent me?” And from the bush, God said, “Tell them, ‘I AM’ has sent you”.
When Jesus used these words of Himself, in these educated Jewish minds it was the same as saying, “I AM GOD”. This made them angry. If you get your Bible and read to the end of this chapter, you’ll see how angry it made them.
Jesus never changes (Hebrews 13:8). Because He is God, He still says the same thing to us today. “I AM”. There is no past tense with Him, and no future tense. “I AM”, He says, and if He loved us before the foundation of the world enough to make plans to come and die for us...and if He came and died for us one hot day outside of Jerusalem...and if He promised that He would return again to take us home, we can rest assured that none of these things will change; none of His promises will fail.. Once He has said it, it is done. Believe in Him; love Him; obey Him. Though He has the right to command these things from us, He pleads with us out of His great love.
How can we harden our hearts to deny that plea?