Christ at Tabernacles, Part 9
(Before Abraham Was…I Am)
You know… I was going to start out this sermon introduction by asking… “Have you ever been offended?” But after thinking about it… it didn’t take long for me to realize just how stupid that question is.
Because everyone has been offended at one point or another. Everywhere we turn, someone usually says something… or does something… that offends us.
For example… I take great offense at Americans who step on or burn the American flag. I take offense when some highly paid child takes a knee when the national anthem is played.
We all get offended! And it seems that there are some who get “offended” by just about everything. It could easily be said that we have become a society of the “offended”.
And you know what… our fascination with… or rather, our addiction to social media has only served to make things worse. Now, because of social media… everyone has a voice. Anyone and everyone can add their “two bits” to just about any conversation.
And those two bits, more often than not, are cutting... biting… or divisive words designed to make the author look intelligent and the reader ignorant.
I recently shared a post on Facebook that someone I’m friends with commented on. Another “friend” apparently didn’t like what he said, and verbally attacked his position with words that were designed to belittle and hurt.
It’s bad enough when something like this happens between strangers… but these two were relatives. Folks… this is the inevitable outcome of an inward facing people.
We are a self-centered society… We are a prideful people… The natural outcome of our interactions with other people who are just as prideful and self-centered as we are… is that we will be “offended”. We will get our feelings hurt.
And its one thing to be offended by something that’s truly offensive… but our society today has become so narcissistic… which is self-centeredness to an extreme… that the simple fact that someone else has an opposing view can literally send some of us over the edge.
How dare someone else not think like I think!
And because someone might get their feelings hurt… Or someone might get offended… Freedoms are curtailed… Speech is regulated… Opposing views are eliminated.
Today’s society has created a new “right”… the “right” to not be offended. That’s in the constitution somewhere… isn’t it?
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And as bad as we may think this is for us today… when we read the Bible… we can see that people really haven’t changed at all. Even just a quick reading of the NT will reveal the same attitudes I just spoke of… in people that lived thousands of years ago.
You see… Jesus dealt with this same self-centered and prideful attitude in almost every encounter He had with the religious leaders of His day. In this chapter alone… the 8th chapter of John… we can see at least three times where the Jews exhibit this same attitude.
Joh 8:33 KJV They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man…
Joh 8:39 KJV They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father…
Joh 8:41 KJV … We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.
Then when Jesus confronted this prideful attitude with the truth that their Father wasn’t God… but the Devil… they responded the same way many people today would…
They were offended… and their reply was…
I. The Insolent Retort
Joh 8:48 KJV Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?
This reply is evidence that they simply couldn’t respond intelligently to what Jesus had just said. Like children on the playground… they resort to blasphemous name calling.
Jesus had shown them that Abraham may have been a distant relative… but he wasn’t their Father because they didn’t do what he would have done. He also showed them that their claim to have God as their Father was equally false. You can’t have the Father… without having the Son as well.
For example… Let’s say you go to the store to buy a large block of cheese… but before buying it… you get a small piece of it to taste. After taking a bite… you spit it out because it tastes bad to you. Knowing that the taste will be constant throughout the whole block of cheese… you reject the whole block because of the piece you tasted.
Jesus was God manifest in human form. By rejecting the Son… the Jews were rejecting the Father as well.
So, in calling Jesus a “Samaritan” and saying that He was possessed by a devil… they were (to a Jew) slinging one of the worse insults they could think of at Christ.
Samaritans were considered “half-breeds” and “unclean” by the Jews. They were made up of the remnant of Northern Kingdom Jews who were left behind when
took the rest of them into captivity.
Then after importing other captives from other nations into the Northern Kingdom… this remnant intermarried with them and
defiled the race.
Not only that, but the new arrivals brought their own religions with them which became incorporated into the Judaism that had been left behind, which was already an apostate form of Judaism.
So, you can understand now, where calling a devout Jew… a Samaritan… would be a horrible insult. But to add that they were also possessed by a devil… would be the same thing as calling them “insane”.
And this isn’t the first time that they’ve slung these insults at Christ… nor would it be the last. But how He responds is evidence enough that the accusations were untrue.
Because a person who’s moved by a devil would be inflated with pride and seek honor and fame. He wouldn’t be of humble nature… seeking honor for another. Someone controlled by a devil would respond by lashing out…
But Christ’s response was…
II. The Dignified Response
Joh 8:49-51 KJV (49) Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me. (50) And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth. (51) Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.
Jesus breezes by the Samaritan insult without a reply. It was a personal attack and didn’t have anything to do with his life or doctrine. And furthermore… had He made a reply, it might have been interpreted by the Jews, and others, as sanctioning their racism toward the Samaritans.
But Jesus had no contempt for the Samaritan people. He came to tear down the wall of separation between Jew and Gentile. He never feared contact with them… and He preached the truth to them just as He did everyone else. Many of His first converts that we know of… were Samaritans.
So to respond to the Samaritan insult might be seen as condoning racism… but to be said to have a “devil” is completely contrary to His mission because He came… 1Jn 3:8b KJV … that he might destroy the works of the devil.
The devil is the original sinner. Jesus is without sin. The devil represents darkness. Jesus is the “Light of the World”. Light always wins out over darkness. Wherever light is introduced… darkness runs away.
What I’m saying in other words is that everything Jesus did was totally opposite of what the devil would do. The devil was a liar and murderer from the beginning… but Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. The devil seeks to build his own glory and honor… Jesus sought only to glorify and honor the Father who sent Him.
The devil would seek the preeminence and build his own reputation… but Jesus… Php 2:7 KJV …made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant…
At another time and place, they accuse Jesus of being controlled by the devil. And He told them at that time that He couldn’t possibly be motivated by the devil because a house divided simply couldn’t stand.
And He also made it clear that this kind of talk revealed an inner heart condition that would never be forgiven… Mat 12:31 … All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.
Attributing Jesus’ life and works to satanic origins reveals a heart and mind that are closed to the truth… but the person who receives His truth… Jesus tells us that… Joh 8:51 KJV … If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.
The one who keeps Christ’ Word will never know… or experience death. They’ll never suffer the penalty of sin… never collect the wages of sin. Because eternal life is just that… eternal… therefore physical death can never extinguish it.
Because we who have trusted in Him, have partaken of the Bread of Life… and we’ll never hunger again. We have drank of the Living Water… and no longer thirst, but have those rivers of Living Water flowing out of us. And we have seen the Light of the World… and we will never walk in darkness.
And the one who has been born again and has the Spirit of the Living God residing within, understands these things. But the natural man doesn’t understand. The natural man is devoid of spiritual discernment… and these words I’ve just spoken are foolishness to him.
Just as it was foolishness to the Jews whom Jesus was speaking to… who respond with…
III. The Incredulous Rejoinder (Yeah…I use a thesaurus…)
Joh 8:52-55 KJV Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death. (53) Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself? (54) Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: (55) Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying.
The natural man can only comprehend the natural world… and these Jews could only think in the natural… or the physical. To them, the very idea that anyone who kept Jesus’ Word… would never die… was ludicrous. Everyone dies.
Abraham died. The prophets died (many of them by their father’s own hands). How could He say that someone would never die? “You’re not claiming to be greater than Abraham and the prophets… are you?”
And this isn’t the first time He’s been asked a question like this… is it? Didn’t the woman at the well in Sychar ask Him… Joh 4:12 KJV Art thou greater than our father Jacob…
Both then and now… Jesus doesn’t respond to comparisons with mortal men. After all… how can the immortal be compared to mortals. Or the eternal to the finite?
Instead… He tells them… Joh 8: 54 KJV If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God
Jesus will not bring honor upon Himself… it’s the Father who loves and honors Him. He honored Him at His birth by sending the angels to herald His arrival. He honored Him as a child by directing the Wise Men to come and worship.
He honored Him at His baptism by saying “This is my beloved Son.” He would honor Him at His death by not allowing His body to see corruption. He would honor Him at His ascension by seating Him at His right hand… and He will honor Him at the judgment when every knee will bow before Him and every tongue will declare Him Lord!
It’s the Father who honors the Son… but it’s these Jews who dishonor Him, and the Father as well. Had they truly known the Father… they would have known the Son, for Jesus tells us elsewhere…
Joh 14:9 KJV … Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?
He could never say that He didn’t know the Father… if He had, He would be a liar just like these Jews and their father. And His evidence that He did know Him is in the fact that He did the Father’s will and keeps His Father’s Word.
IV. The Incomparable Revelation
Joh 8:56-59 KJV Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. (57) Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? (58) Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. (59) Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.
This literally says… “Abraham, your father, was transported with an exultant desire that he should see My day, and he saw it and rejoiced.”
What did Abraham see? Many say that it was Jesus Himself… that he saw Christ in his vision of the smoking pot passing through the divided carcasses when the Abrahamic covenant was ratified.
Some say that it was when he saw and spoke with the Lord on His way to
Sodom and Gomorrah… Or maybe in Melchizedek, of whom the Scriptures
tells us that he was… Heb 7:3 KJV Without father, without mother, without
descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto
the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.
And these could be the case… but Jesus says that Abraham saw “my day”, not “my person”. So, how could Abraham see His “day”? The answer to that would be the same way that righteousness was accounted to him… through “faith”.
The 11th chapter of Hebrews implies that Abraham received “special revelation”… that many things were revealed to him through faith… It says that he looked for a city whose builder and maker is God…that he saw the promises afar off and were persuaded of them and clung to them… but that he lived as a stranger and pilgrim on this earth because he kept his eye on that heavenly city
It could also be that He saw His “day” in “type”… in the offering of his son Isaac… remaining confident that… Gen 22:8 KJV … God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering… The same way that God would one day offer His Son as the “lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world.”
But the idea that their “father Abraham” saw this man who was standing before them and speaking to them… was crazy. He was still a young man… not even 50 years old yet!
Joh 8:58 KJV Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.
Folks, if anyone ever tells you that Jesus never claimed to be deity… you can tell them that they’re wrong… then bring them right here.
This is none other than a full… in your face… claim to deity. A full disclosure of His glory… the affirmation that He was none other than the Eternal One. He’s taken the sacred name of God before… but never in such a bold and obvious fashion.
At other times, He would say that “Ego emi” I am the bread of life. “Ego emi” I am the light of the world… “Ego emi” the door, the good shepherd, the resurrection and the life, the way the truth and the life, the true vine…
But here… the fact that He’s associating Himself with the One who spoke to Moses at the burning bush… using the sacred name of God for Himself is absolutely clear. But if there’s still a question in your mind… then all you have to do is look at the response He receives from those who were standing right there… at that very moment… hearing these very words flow from His lips…
Joh 8:59a KJV …Then took they up stones to cast at him
They knew exactly what He was saying… and they were so filled with violent rage that they desired to murder Him on the spot. No trial. No appeals. The fact that they didn’t have the authority to execute anyone didn’t matter… they weren’t going to execute… they were going to murder. But if they only misunderstood Him… the fact that Jesus didn’t try to correct their “misunderstanding” tells us that He did mean what they thought He meant!
Joh 8:59b KJV but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.
Somehow… quite possibly in the same way that He hid himself from the disciples on the road to Emmaus… or as He did in the 4th chapter of Luke when they tried to throw Him off a cliff… He hid Himself from these people now… who would try to take His life before His time.
And so He continues to hide Himself from the world even today because… 1Co 2:14 KJV …the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
But all those who hear His Word… the gospel message… and respond in faith… the promise is that they will be saved from the penalty of their sins… and that they… Joh 8:52 KJV …shall never taste of death
And isn’t that something that you’d like to have assurance of today?