Letters to the Prison - Week 92

Hello, everyone!  We’re grateful for this opportunity to study God’s word with you.  If you’re encouraged by these letters, be sure to thank the people who make them available to you.  If you need a Bible, ask for one!  We’re nearing the end of John 8 after studying it for 14 weeks!
Last week, we saw Jesus continuing to answer the question: “Who do you think you are?” (John 8:53).  Jesus answers by referring to Abraham in a way that implies that Jesus somehow knows Abraham even though Abraham died some 2000 years before Jesus was even born.  His accusers hear this implication clearly and call Jesus out on it:
•“You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” -John 8:57
Jesus responds with a shocking statement:
•“Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” -John 8:58
We’ve been studying the gospel of John with a focus on the question: “Is Jesus who he says he is?” and the natural follow-up question: “Who does Jesus say he is?”  Friends, what we find in John 8:58 is as clear an answer as we’re ever going to get directly from Jesus about just precisely who he claims to be.  He begins with “truly, truly” --which means he’s revealing a profound (and profoundly important!) reality.  Then, Jesus simply claims to have eternally existed in the present tense before Abraham was ever born.  This is the same thing God says about himself.  It's how God introduced himself to Moses (Exodus 3:14).  It is so plain and so simple that one cannot misunderstand Jesus’ meaning here.  His accusers certainly don’t.  Look how they respond:
•So they picked up stones to throw at him…-John 8:59
Keep in mind, these are the people who supposedly “believe in Jesus” (John 8:30).  Jesus then challenged them to act according to their beliefs (John 8:31).  They didn’t take kindly to this challenge… nor did they appreciate Jesus’ subsequent accusation that they were lying sons of the devil (John 8:44,55).  Ironically, the crowd indeed acts according to their true beliefs in John 8:59, when they angrily pick up stones to slay Jesus…  and even more ironic is why they seek to stone him… because of his claim to be God.  They are accusing Jesus –the Son of God—of the blasphemy of claiming to be God.  Blasphemy is punishable by death –via stoning—according to Jewish law (Leviticus 24:16).  So, this crowd understands perfectly who Jesus is claiming to be… and they don’t believe him.  Their answer to the main question: “Is Jesus who he says he is?” is a resounding “NO.”  Their unbelief causes them to attempt to murder the Son of God while thinking that they’re following God’s law.  
This serves as a serious challenge to those of us who claim to believe in Jesus:  If we claim to believe that Jesus is who he says he is –and he clearly says that he is God— do our actions, thoughts, motivations, and words reflect that belief?  Do we abide in Jesus’ words?  Do we obey what he says and live accordingly?  We need to be honest with ourselves… and others… and be diligent about making sure that what we do lines up with what we claim to believe.  
Next week, we’ll begin to look at the story of a man who does that very thing.  Until then, begin reading John 9.  We love you!  We miss you!

Dean A.

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