John 8:45-59

Read: John 8:45-59

Being a descendant of Abraham did not stop the Pharisees from being children of the devil. Jesus points this out, in that they are slaves to sin, and thereby do what their “father” tells them to do. Jesus says that if they were sons of Abraham, they would do his deeds. Abraham’s deeds as Paul, the author of Hebrews, and James note were his faith that resulted in justification (Romans 4, James 2:23, Hebrews 11:8,17, Galatians 3:1-14). Paul and James both quote from Genesis 15:6, in which Abraham was promised a son, and Abraham believed God and god counted it as righteousness to Abraham. Paul makes it obvious that that it was not a working of the flesh in that it was not circumcision because this happened before circumcision. The mark of circumcision was a marker of the promise. The Pharisees and Jews did not believe him as Abraham did.

The Pharisees try to ascertain who Jesus’ father was. They thought that perhaps he was a Samaritan and had a demon. Samaritans were half-breeds in the eyes of the Jews in that they intermarried with other people and were not of pure descendants of Abraham. The Samaritans however saw themselves as descendants of Abraham, as the woman at the well notes in John 4:20. One’s heritage in Jewish society had implications on one’s standing in society. Certain tribes of Israel had particular prophecies that pertained to them, such as the ruler of Israel coming from the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10). Matthew and Luke both give Jesus’ genealogy to show that he was a descendant of Abraham and David such that he fulfilled certain aspects in the Jews thought were necessary for one to be the Messiah (Matthew 1:1-17, Luke 3:23-38). The Old Testament is chock-full with genealogy. Saying Jesus was a Samaritan was a way of discrediting him among the Jews, and saying he was demon was to say he was crazy for thinking the way he did. The Pharisees in there scheming were always looking for a way to discredit Jesus, yet in all their attempts were unable to do so.

Jesus then makes a statement about Abraham that seems to baffle them yet again. Jesus says that Abraham saw his day some time ago when Abraham was alive. The Jews question this, saying Jesus is not even 50 years old. Abraham had lived some 2000 years before Jesus was born. The numbers just did not add up. Jesus then says, before Abraham was, “I am”. The tense of the verb Jesus uses for Abraham is translated “was” is “γενεσθαι” which carries the meaning if coming into existence, coming into being, or being made. Jesus is saying that before Abraham existed on the planet, Jesus “was”. This word is “ειμι” and is to “exist”. Jesus was effectively saying, “Before Moses began to existed, I exist” or “Before Moses began to existed, I Am.” Jesus’ statement is first person present tense. Any Jew would have immediately recalled Moses conversation with God at the burning bush (Exodus 3). When Moses asks about who he should say sent him, God answers “I am that I am”. The great “I Am” is who sent Moses to Pharaoh. The great “I Am” is the self-sufficient being. His existence is not contingent upon any other’s being. Jesus in effect is claiming to be the great “I Am” at the burning bush, the one who delivered them from Egypt, no one other than God himself. To many this would be blasphemy, and for this reason, they picked up stone to kill him.

A person in the world then and today has one of two possible spiritual fathers: God or the devil. One is the father of lies, and the other is the father of truth, and his son is Jesus. No matter who one’s earthly descendants are one will be in one of these two families. While the Jews claimed Abraham as their descendant, Paul likens all those who believe to be descendants of Abraham (Romans 4:16-25, Galatians 3, particularly Galatians 3:29). Abraham is the father of faith, and those who follow as he followed by faith are the family of God. No one can claim salvation because of anything earthly he might obtain or might be associated with. Going to church, tithing, being from a good family, doing good deeds, being a good person, having a good education have do not determine who one’s spiritual father is because only faith can. Trust Jesus, who is God, and you will be in the family of God.

Lord, you are Abba – my Daddy! Thank you for loving me as your child!