Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
John 8:52-53a (Holman) Then the Jews said, ANow we know You have a demon. Abraham died and so did the prophets. You say, >If anyone keeps My word, he will never taste death B ever!= Are you greater than our father Abraham who died? Even the prophets died.@
The Jews, thinking with crude literalism, assumed Jesus was talking only about physical death. But He was referring also to spiritual and eternal death.
None is exempt from physical death, except Enoch, Elijah, and those alive at Jesus= return. Physical death is Earth=s constant memorial to the horror of sin.
Physical death is the lot of all. After this, continued existence is the lot of all. No person ever enters a state of nonexistence.
For unbelievers, this continual existence is a curse, described as death. They seek annihilation, but it flees them. Of this death a believer has no part.
For believers, true life never ends. It has no interruption. A part in every believer never dies, though from earth=s viewpoint they appear to die completely.
Ours truly is life everlasting. We experience physical death briefly, for a moment, but we do not see death in all its fulness.
John 8:53b AWho do You pretend to be?@
They accused Jesus of pride. The opposite was true. He was humble, having left a throne in Heaven to be born in a stable, live without a house, and die on a cross.
The very fact Jesus was in the flesh meant He had emptied Himself and made Himself of no reputation. His flesh was a veil to protect us from the Glory shining in Him. He remains the best example of humility ever known.
John 8:54 AIf I glorify Myself,@ Jesus answered, AMy glory is nothing, My Father B you say about Him, >He is our God= B He is the One who glorifies Me.@
Since Jesus had humbled Himself, He did not see a need to brag on Himself. Jesus did not seek His own glory. He knew the Father would take care of this.
God honors those who do not seek their own honor. Humility is the path to true honor. AHumble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you in due time@ (I Peter 5:6).
To honor is to do or speak of a person in such a way that we not only show our esteem, but also make others show esteem. The value of the honor depends on the one who bestows it.
Honor bestowed by unworthy lips is worthless. Self-honor is also vain. For believers, the highest honor is that which God bestows on us. He gives us the kind of honor we need.
Jesus depended on His Father for all the honor He looked for. He did not primarily court the applause of people. Above all else, His eye and heart were on the glory His Father had promised Him.
Jesus was wise in seeking honor provided only by the Father. His Father did not disappoint Him. Jesus= resurrection from the dead is the highest honor any person ever received.
John 8:55 AYou=ve never known Him, but I know Him. If I were to say I don=t know Him, I would be a liar like you. But I do know Him, and I keep His word.@
Though Jesus did not mainly court the applause of people, He still had to be honest about Himself and His mission. Silence would have been wrong. To hide truth is as much a lie as spreading error.
Jesus did not deny what He was. He did not humor the religious leaders, avoid their reproaches, prevent further trouble, retract previous statements, or confess wrong. Jesus had to be honest.
It is sin to live and speak in ways that do not match what we are inside. A two-fold hypocrisy threatens the followers of Jesus. One, living like the devil. Our sin brings reproach on Jesus. Two, never speaking for Jesus. We lie when through silence we disown our relation to God.
John 8:56-57 AYour father Abraham was over-joyed that he would see My day; he saw it and rejoiced.@ The Jews replied, AYou aren=t 50 years old yet, and You=ve seen Abraham?@
Jesus was everything Abraham longed for. He fulfilled the Patriarch=s vision. Abraham knew his seed would bless the world. Jesus was this dream come true.
The leaders again tripped over crude literalism. Jesus was about thirty, certainly less than fifty. The leaders taunted Him about the possibility of being 2000 years old. There was irony in their taunt.
The Man they were confronting was older than Earth itself. He preceded time, was beyond time, and will succeed time. They laughed at His possibly having known Abraham, when He actually had been a guest, along with two angels, in Abraham=s tent.
Jesus chose this moment of paradoxical tension to make the highest personal claim any person could ever make.
John 8:58 Jesus said to them, AI assure you: Before Abraham was, I am.@
Jesus said Abraham was. In other words, the Patriarch came into being. Jesus, on the other hand, always is.
Above the realm of time, Jesus is timeless. He always has been. He never came into being. Abraham was a creature; Jesus is the Creator.
John 8:59 At that, they picked up stones to throw at Him. But Jesus was hidden and went out of the temple complex.
Jesus= claim abruptly ended the discussion. His words were blasphemy to the leaders. They disagreed with Him, but knew exactly what He was claiming.
They couldn=t stand to hear any more, and Jesus didn=t need to say any more. Frustrated and furious, they tried to throw Temple stones at the Temple=s Corner Stone.
They were probably glad to be rid of Jesus for a while. He had refuted them and confounded them at every turn in this debate. To them this was good riddance, but they were foolish, casting off their only hope.
An illustration will highlight their error. If there were an insurrection in a hospital, and all the sick people threw out the doctors and nurses, the results would be folly. Sickness and disease would be inside and all the help outside.
This is how our sinful world thinks. They cast off Jesus and give a sigh of relief, but in pushing Him aside they deprive themselves of their only hope for salvation.