Saturday, September 3, 2011

Ego Eimi!

"Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad." So the Jews said to him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?" Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am." So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple. ~ John 8:56-59

How many times have you heard, during either a conversation with an individual or while open-air preaching, this objection? "Jesus never claimed to be God!" And when you try to assert the deity of Christ, they are quick to interrupt you and demand, "Show me in the Bible where Jesus said, 'I am God.'" It always fascinates me when people who neither believe in God nor believe His Word is true turn to the pages of Scripture to try to make their case.

It is true, according to the Scriptures, that Jesus never uttered the sentence, "I am God." But contrary to scoffers' assertions, Jesus most certainly declared Himself to be God. And we see an example of one of several gospel accounts in which Jesus does just that.

The scene is in the temple one morning. Jesus had gone there to teach the people. The scribes and Pharisees interrupt the meeting when they brought a woman into the temple, placing her in the midst of the crowd-- a woman accused of committing adultery. Jesus makes quick work of the hypocritical Jewish leaders, which resulted in them leaving the area having not accomplished their goal of trapping Jesus; and with Jesus telling the woman, "Go, and from now on sin no more" (John 8:11).

Jesus returned to speaking to the crowd, now in the treasury area of the temple, only to have the Pharisees return to heckle Him. Jesus testified that God the Father bears witness to the truth that Jesus is God's Son (John 8:12-20). Jesus went on to prophesy about His pending death on the cross (John 8:21-29), which resulted in many coming to believe in Him (John 8:30).

Jesus then turns up the heat on the religious elite by letting them know that they were slaves to sin (John 8:31-38), and of their father the Devil (John 8:39-47).

The Jewish leaders, understandably upset, accused Jesus of being demon-possessed (John 8:48-52). They then asked Jesus, daring Him to answer, if He thought He was greater than Abraham (John 8:53-55).

This brings us to our passage for today's devotion. As the discourse continued, Jesus made the remarkable statement--one for which the Jews wanted to immediately kill Him. "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am" (John 8:58).

The meaning of Jesus' words should be as clear to contemporary readers of the Bible as it was to the Jews of Jesus' day. Jesus declared Himself to be God.

The reaction of the Jews was immediate and their motivation was clear. They picked up stones to execute Jesus for the crime of blasphemy. The manner in which Jesus said "I am" hearkened the Jews back to the memorable moment when Moses, their most respected prophet, asked the Lord who should he say sent him back to Egypt. "God said to Moses, 'I AM WHO I AM.' And he said, 'Say this to the people of Israel,' "I AM has sent me to you"'" (Exodus 3:14).

So, the next time an unbeliever insists that the Book they have likely never read does not recount Jesus claiming to be God, simple take them to John 8:56-59.

Brethren, if the insistence of unbelievers that Jesus was not and is not God wears you down, at times, making you question (even for a moment) your belief in the deity of Christ, repent! Stand firm! "Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses" (1 Timothy 6:12).

"The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God" (Romans 8:16). And "all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16-17). What a powerful combination, Christian--the Holy Spirit testifying to your spirit the truth about Jesus Christ and your relationship to Him; and the God-breathed Word given to you to not only affirm what is now written on your heart, but also to counter and correct those who foolishly and shamefully assert that Jesus did not know or make known who He is--fully God and fully Man.

Jesus is the Ego Eimi--the great I AM!