Read – John 8:48-59
This was blasphemy and Jesus deserved to die – that is unless what Jesus said was true.
Within these verses Jesus makes a statement that sent shock waves through the crowd, and remember many of these are the Jews who “believed in Him” (see – Jn. 8:30-31). And don’t forget it is this group of ‘believers’ that Jesus said will seek to kill Him. And that’s exactly what happened, not months later but that very day these ‘believers’ wanted to stone Jesus to death (see – Jn. 8:59).
What did Jesus say that caused such a reaction? “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am” (Jn. 8:58). These believing Jews rightly understood that Jesus claimed to be God, Yehovah, the LORD, the great “I AM.” How could a man, even a man who performed miracles like Jesus make such a claim? This was blasphemy and Jesus deserved to die – that is unless what Jesus said was true.
But this was not the first time these ‘believers’ had heard Jesus say these words that day. They had heard these same words four times earlier that day and hearing Jesus’ words they believed.
In English Jesus’ words are translated, “I am.” Standing by themselves these words are meaningless to us. When you and I use these words they are always followed by some description like, “I am hungry,” or “I am tired.”
Jesus did this once here in John 8 saying, “I am the light of the world” (Jn. 8:12). If we said something like that people might think we were crazy. And make no mistake, when Jesus said this He was immediately challenged by the Pharisees as being a liar. Jesus follows up their accusation with His second “I am” statement saying, “I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.” (Jn. 8:18). Literally, this could be translated “I am bearing witness concerning myself;” the emphasis in Greek is “egō eimi” or “I am.”
Jesus continued telling these Pharisees that they would die in their sin “unless you believe that I am he” (Jn. 8:24). Literally, Jesus says unless they believe “egō eimi” or “I am.” Jesus went on to say, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he” (Jn. 8:28). Again this is literally knowing Jesus as the “egō eimi” or “I am.” In each of these verse English translators add the pronoun “he,” but Jesus is emphasizing that He is the LORD, the great “I AM.”
It is at this point that many of the Jews believed in Jesus, and He begins to speak directly to these believers.
Are you still tracking with me or did you get lost with the Greek? Put simply, everything from John 7:37 continuing in John 8:12 all happened on the same day, “the Last and Greatest Day” or “the Eighth Day.” Sometimes a lot happens quickly that we miss, just like those who believed in Jesus that day. The key to this entire everything happening on this day centers in understanding who Jesus really is; He is “egō eimi” the “I am,” the LORD Yehovah.
As Jesus continued to dialog with the Jews who had believed in Him we come to the climax when He tells them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” This is the fifth time Jesus uses the “egō eimi” or “I am” statement. Make no mistake those listening to Jesus clearly understood what they had previously missed; Jesus was calling Himself their God, the I AM. But this time rather than His words causing them to believe further, they heard blasphemy and picked up stones to kill Jesus.
As believers today, what would it take for us to have such a reaction. What would Jesus say to us so we would want to so quickly reject Him as they did? You see Jesus was not satisfied with their belief. Jesus pushed them for more. Within the Temple as sacrifices and religious service was being made to Yehovah, Jesus wanted these God-fearing Jews to understand that everything they were doing as an act of worship was actually being done for Him, the “egō eimi” or “I am.”
Are we willing today to dedicate ourselves to Jesus as the “egō eimi” or “I am,” to offer ourselves completely to Jesus as the LORD Yehovah – that the God of the Old Testament is the God of the New Testament and His Name is Jesus. Are we willing to admit that Jesus has said some things we may have heard or read before, and while we believed, we did not truly hear? When the Holy Spirit pushes us to embrace Jesus as LORD and do what He says, how will we respond?
LORD Jesus, today I dedicate myself to You as God, the eternal I AM. As You told the woman caught in adultery to go and leaver her life of sin, You tell me to obey You as my LORD. Enable me to receive Your Word and not resist it as being old or irrelevant to how I live my life today. Help me offer myself unreservedly in complete obedience as a living sacrifice – “holy and pleasing to God—this is [my] true and proper worship” (Rom.12:1).