Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Daily - 4/1/09

John 8:51-59 - Thursday's Gospel

51 Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever keeps my word will never see death."

52 (So) the Jews said to him, "Now we are sure that you are possessed. Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, 'Whoever keeps my word will never taste death.'

53 Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? Or the prophets, who died? Who do you make yourself out to be?"

54 Jesus answered, "If I glorify myself, my glory is worth nothing; but it is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, 'He is our God.'

55 You do not know him, but I know him. And if I should say that I do not know him, I would be like you a liar. But I do know him and I keep his word.

56 Abraham your father rejoiced to see my day; he saw it and was glad.

57 So the Jews said to him, "You are not yet fifty years old and you have seen Abraham?"

58 Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM."

59 So they picked up stones to throw at him; but Jesus hid and went out of the temple area.

Wednesday's reading left off at John 8:42, so we have a small gap before today's gospel starts. A key verse from this gap is John 8:44.

44 You belong to your father the devil and you willingly carry out your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks in character, because he is a liar and the father of lies.

So far in John 8, we have seen Jesus claim the following:

- The name "I AM"
- That the Pharisees do not know God
- That they do knot know the truth
- That they are liars
- That they are sons of the devil "from the beginning."

In today's reading he claims:

- To have the words of eternal life
- That God himself is his father
- That he has seen Abraham
- That he existed before Abraham came to be
- Once again, the name "I AM"

We've been looking at this dialogue in small chunks, but it really helps to step back and imagine the highly confrontational scene. John 8 occurs in Jerusalem, right at the completion of the Feast of the Tabernacles, which typically occurs toward the end of October. This is one of the three feasts (the other two are Atonement and Passover) where Jews within a certain radius were required to come to Jerusalem.

This dialogue occurs in a public setting, with at least some of the crowds still in town. The people he confronts were in all likelihood the most visible and honored people at the Feast. All eyes had been on THEM, in their flowing robes, sitting at the seats of honor. Into this mix comes Jesus, making a series of unprecedented claims. Among which are (to them) a blasphemous claim of divinity, and that THEY are liars, and that they come from the devil!

Think of it from the Pharisitical perspective. This man is a direct challenge to your life and your livelihood. How would you take this?