Summary: Jesus had been spending some time trying to show the religious leaders who he was. Everyone must answer the question for themselves-who is Jesus?
“WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?”
1) Who did the Jews think Jesus was?
• Someone who was demon-possessed (vs. 48). The Jews were responding to all the things Jesus was telling them in the previous passage. Unfortunately, instead of being humble and accepting that they weren’t what they thought they were, they got defensive. “How dare he call me a child of the devil? You’re the devil’s child, not me.” They didn’t have any way to prove Jesus was a liar so they resorted to insults to try to discredit him. They couldn’t adequately answer Jesus’ challenge to them in verse 46 so they had to come back with something to try to discredit him. “You are a Samaritan”. Using the term ‘Samaritan’ meant that Jesus was an enemy to them (since the Jews and Samaritans were hostile toward one another). Also, the Jews considered Samaritans half-breeds. Therefore, calling Jesus a Samaritan was a slam regarding Jesus not being Joseph’s son and therefore some sort of half-breed. “You are demon-possessed”. Here and in verse 52 they were basically calling him insane. It was their way of discrediting him so that they wouldn’t have to take him seriously. The problem was they didn’t understand what he was saying about never having to see death (just like they didn’t understand when he talked to them about being a slave-(vs. 33). So, instead of being humble and wise, trying to understand what Jesus meant by what he said, they responded in pride and arrogance, jumping to erroneous conclusions and just passing his words off as senseless. We can be the same way. Instead of being humble when confronted with the truth we make the other person out to be the foolish one. In order for me to not have to acknowledge the truth I’ll convince myself that you’re being ridiculous. “This is crazy talk. I’m not going to listen to your absurdities. Take your foolish accusations and get outta here.” When we are like this we are being like the Jews; shutting out the opportunity to hear wisdom.
• Someone who was prideful (vs. 53). “Who do you think you are?” It’s interesting that the prideful ones are accusing Jesus of pride. They were blind to their own pride but thought they saw clearly the pride in Jesus. How many times has this happened to us? We have an undetected, unaddressed pride problem yet we are so quick to point out the pride we see, or think we see, in others. Again, instead of trying to understand what Jesus was trying to say, the Jews just went by what they thought he was saying and thus perceived his statement to be a prideful one. How often do we make this mistake? We go by what we think someone is saying without gaining clarification as to what they actually meant by what they said.
• Someone who was a blasphemer (59). (58): Either Jesus didn’t know how to speak grammatically correct or there was more than meets the eye here. There was. The Jews knew exactly what he was saying. Ex. 3:14-15. The Jews knew this to be the most intimate name of God. The name by which he was to be called for generations to come. From the I Am we get the name Jehovah. God is the I Am, not simply ‘I was’ or ‘I will be’ but ‘I Am’. I am always present tense. I am unchanging. Thus, in Jesus calling himself the I Am he was saying that he was God. ‘Picked up stones to stone him’. Jesus saying this was the last straw for them. They had heard the radical statements from Jesus regarding their sin and about having the devil as their father but now Jesus had gone too far. Now he needed to be put to death for saying what he said. He, in their eyes had committed blasphemy of which stoning was the penalty. Lev. 24:16 states that “anyone who blasphemes the name of the Lord must be put to death”. Blasphemy was committed when someone said slanderous statements against God or spoke maliciously about God. The Jews considered Jesus’ statement to be breaking the commandment in Exodus 20:7, “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” That’s what the Jews considered Jesus’ statement to be by him equating himself with God he was degrading God and elevating himself to a holy status meant only for God. John 10:32-33, “but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?” “We are not stoning you for any of these,” replied the Jews, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”