“I tell you the truth; anyone who obeys my teaching will never die.” As Jesus said these words at the temple in Jerusalem, He provoked a strong reaction. Abraham and the prophets had all died– was Jesus claiming to be greater than even Abraham. “Who do you think you are??” they demanded.But Jesus did not back down or soften what He had to say. He told them in no uncertain terms that His Father was God, the God they claimed as their own. He said that He Himself knew His Father, but they did not. And He said that Abraham himself had seen Jesus’ coming, and had rejoiced.
Angrily, the people retorted “You are not even fifty years old yet, and you claim to have seen Abraham?”
“I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied. “Before Abraham was even born, I AM!”
Hundreds of years before, while giving Moses his mission to lead Israel out of Egypt, God had clearly claimed this title as His own. “Tell the people that I AM has sent you”, God had told Moses, when Moses asked for a name to give them.
So when Jesus stood before the crowd in the temple and boldly said “Before Abraham was, I AM!”, He was claiming nothing less than the fact that He was, Himself, God. In shock and anger, the people reached for stones with which to kill Jesus….. but He disappeared and left the temple.
Jesus had come to His own people, and they rejected Him. He came as the Son of God, a messenger from God to the people who, alone on the earth, believed in the One True God. Yet, although they were steeped in their religion and their history, they failed to recognize God when He appeared among them.
Even today, it is possible for Christians to be so entrenched in their ideas of God and their ideas of serving Him, that they fail to recognize Him as He moves among us in the lives of His people. May we be still, and know our God. May we love Jesus, and be known of Him, and recognize Him when He appears, even in the most unlikely of circumstances. Amen.