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Daily Bible Verses For Lent | Before Abraham Was, I Am | Divinity Of Jesus | God The Son

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John 8: 51-59 – Lent Week 5, Thursday (Audio Bible, King James Version, Spoken Word)

51 Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.
52 Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death.
53 Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself?
54 Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God:
55 Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying.
56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.
57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?
58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.
59 Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

The more we love God, the better we come to know him. Jesus continues to assert his knowledge of the Father, and too his eternal coexistence with the Father from before all time.

We are promised, if we believe in Jesus Christ, and if we keep his teachings, that we shall live with him forever. We shall share in the eternity he speaks of now.

Jesus tells the Jews that Abraham himself rejoiced in the promise of the Messiah to come. Now Jesus has come to fulfil this promise. Abraham took his son Isaac to be sacrificed at God’s command, and in so doing prefigured God’s offering of the Son. Jesus’ accusers now cannot see the ways in which the history of our salvation is becoming completed, that Abraham’s journey to the altar with his son was a shadow of the glorious reality of Christ’s incarnate presence and self-sacrifice.

Jesus, nevertheless, remains humble in the face of their accusations. He tells his people that he is not come to honour himself; it is his Father who honours him. Jesus is also clear that he has intimate and direct knowledge of God the Father, which others do not have, perhaps because, through internecine strife and external oppression, they have been drawn away from the true knowledge of the Law, of God, which was given to them, promised to them, and which is to be found in their hearts.

It is Jesus the rebel as well as the Son of God who has reclaimed this knowledge and is ready to teach it to all. Jesus has come to us with a new, saving message, which was inaccessible before his incarnation.

Still, Jesus’ people do not see how Jesus Christ, while incarnate, transcends all time. ‘Before Abraham was, I am.’ The Jews see blasphemy. They close their ears against what Jesus has to say. They seek to kill him now, to stone him to death. Jesus, however, is not yet ready to die. He passes through the midst of them. Their murderous desires are impotent. As the Jewish people were protected by God at the time of the Passover, so Jesus Christ now passes by.

For those who believe in Christ, who are reborn not from a perishable but from an imperishable seed through the Word of the living God, not from flesh but from water and the Holy Spirit, are finally established as “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people, who in times past were not a people, but are now the people of God”.

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What Is The Nature Of Jesus’ I AM? | How Does Jesus Reveal Himself As God The Son?

John 8:51-59 is a pivotal moment in the Gospel of Saint John. Jesus boldly proclaims his divinity and challenges the religious authorities of his time. His words are not only a direct challenge to the religious leaders but also a challenge to Christians today to reexamine our understanding of God and the way we live our lives.

Jesus’ ‘I am’ equates himself with God using the same language that God used to reveal himself to Moses in Exodus 3:14. Jesus is making a radical claim about his own identity. He asserts that he is not just a prophet or a teacher but the very Son of God – God the Son.

Jesus’ use of the phrase ‘I am’ denotes that Jesus is the source of life and that his words have the power to give eternal life. This is radically contrary to the religious leaders of his time – and they were more concerned with following strict rules and regulations rather than cultivating a personal relationship with God – who is Jesus.

Jesus’ challenge to the religious authorities is a challenge to modernity. We can become so caught up in our own understanding of what is good that we fail to recognize that only God is truly good.

As Catholic theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar writes: ‘Only God is good and he alone can show us what is good. He alone can give us the power to do what is good, for only he is the source of life.’ (Credo) In other words, we must be willing to let go of our own preconceptions and allow God to guide us in our understanding of what is good and how we should live our lives – no matter that this may teach us in contrary fashion to all that we think we know.

This is particularly relevant during the season of Lent when we are called to examine our lives and turn away from sin. Jesus’ challenge in John 8:51-59 reminds us that true repentance and transformation can only come from a true and personal relationship with God – with Jesus. We cannot follow what we already know – our rules and regulations and expect to be transformed. We must be willing to let go of our own understanding and allow God to lead us in the way of righteousness.

Our Christian Life In Society

The challenge that Jesus presents in John 8:51-59 is not just about our understanding of God and our relationship with Him, but it is also about our relationship with others. Jesus is confronting the religious leaders who are more concerned with their own power and authority than with the well-being of the people they are supposed to serve. Jesus challenges the Temple authorities to see beyond their own interests and to truly care for the people.

As Catholic theologian Henri Nouwen writes: ‘The great mystery of the Gospel is that those who love God must also love their neighbors as themselves, that they must look at their neighbors with God’s eyes, and that they must love them with God’s love.’ (The Living Reminder) This is the radical revolution that Jesus is calling us to – a revolution of love and compassion that sees beyond ourselves and our own interests and sees the value and dignity of every person, no matter who they are.

This revolution of love requires us to let go of our own preconceptions and to allow God to transform us from the inside out. It requires us to be open to the Holy Spirit and to be willing to follow wherever God leads us. It requires us to be willing to be vulnerable and to embrace the suffering that comes with loving others.

As Protestant theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes: ‘When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.’ (The Cost of Discipleship) This may sound harsh, but what Bonhoeffer is getting at is the idea that true discipleship requires us to let go of our own desires and to follow Christ no matter where he leads us, even if it means suffering and sacrifice.

Jesus And The Old Testament

In the Old Testament, we see numerous examples of God challenging the people to turn away from their own desires and to follow Him. One such example is in the book of Isaiah, where God declares: ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.’ (Isaiah 55:8) This is a reminder that our human understanding is limited and flawed, and that we must be open to God’s wisdom and guidance.

In the book of Micah the prophet asks: ‘What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?’ (Micah 6:8) This is a call to action, a call to put aside our own desires and to work towards justice and kindness in the world, guided by God’s wisdom and love.

In Catholic theology, there is a concept known as ‘the imitation of Christ’, which involves striving to follow Christ’s example of selflessness and love. This requires us to let go of our own desires and to be willing to sacrifice for the sake of others, just as Christ did. As Saint Francis of Assisi once said: ‘It is in giving that we receive.’

In Protestant theology, there is a similar emphasis on following Christ’s example of selflessness and sacrifice. This is often referred to as ‘taking up the cross’, which involves embracing the suffering that comes with following Christ and putting aside our own desires for the sake of others.