Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Another I Am - part 1

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Jesus said to them, “I assure you: Before Abraham was, I am.    –– 
John 8:58 

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 As He was saying these things, many believed in Him.  So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, you really are My disciples.  You will know the truth,  and the truth will set you free.”
 “We are descendants  of Abraham,”  they answered Him, “and we have never been enslaved to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will become free’?”  Jesus responded, “I assure you: Everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin.  A slave does not remain in the household forever,  but a son does remain forever.   Therefore, if the Son sets you free, you really will be free.  I know you are descendants  of Abraham,  but you are trying to kill Me because My word  is not welcome among you. I speak what I have seen  in the presence of the Father;  therefore, you do what you have heard from your father.”
 “Our father is Abraham!” they replied.
“If you were Abraham’s children,” Jesus told them, “you would do what Abraham did.   But now you are trying to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth  that I heard from God. Abraham did not do this!  You’re doing what your father does.”
                                                                                                             –– John 8:30-41
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I previously wrote that the were seven I AM statements made by Jesus in the Gospel of John.  That is true. We have looked at those seven "ego eimi" statements.  Why is this the eighth one we are looking at.  The previous seven were stated in the same manner.  I AM - "ego eime," with other words –– the vine, good shepherd, door (and four others). These were metaphoric descriptions made by Jesus describing who He Himself is.   He was exclaiming that He was the Messiah.  He was preparing His disciples for His crucifixion.  He was explaining His mission.  He was also preparing  the disciples for their mission.  As His followers today, these I AM statements are also to show us what His relationship is to us today.  They prepare us to be followers of Jesus.  These statements tell us what our relationship to Him is to be. They are applicable to us today.  They are absolute I AM statements.  They are not I was statements.

The I AM statement we will  next look at is found in John, as were the other seven.  John 8:58  This is the most emphatic statement of divinity pronounced by Jesus.  It is stated in a somewhat different manner, but the words are the same, "ego eimi."  I AM that I AM.  In one short phrase, Jesus proclaimed that He was eternal, preexisted and was God.

I think it is best that we set the stage for this comment of Jesus.  He is unser heavy attack by the religious leader of His day.  Therefore we shall look at the context in which Jesus spoke these two important words.  John 8:30-41


As He was saying these things, many believed in Him.  So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, you really are My disciples.  You will know the truth,  and the truth will set you free.”   John 8:30-32   There were people present who believed the teachings of Jesus. Jesus was speaking to those who believed in Him. Obviously, many of the religious leaders did not believe in Him.  The religious leaders were afraid of him and His message.  They were there to criticize Him.

Jesus told His believers the steps the needed to take to become free. Jesus wanted to see His followers increase in faith.  The first step to commitment to Christ is to believe in Him. You must believe that Jesus Christ is the Messiah and Son of God.  Then you need to abide in Him.  You must remain in His word, you must stay with Jesus. You must pray, study and obey. His disciples and followers are willing to learn and submit to Him.  Discipleship is more than just knowing who Jesus is.

"You will know the truth,  and the truth will set you free."  The truth is more than the facts that Jesus is the Messiah and the son of God.  The truth in His teachings.  The truth is in following Him.  The truth in not an intellectual knowledge, it is a living relationship with Christ.  It is a commitment to the truths He revealed.  Knowing Jesus as who He is, will set you free from the bondage of sin. The truth will bring freedom from darkness, falsehood, and sin.

The religious leaders respond to that statement of Jesus with: “We are descendants  of Abraham,”  they answered Him, “and we have never been enslaved to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will become free’?”  John 8:33  This is a strange thing to say when at this time they are in bondage to Rome.  The religious leaders misunderstood what Jesus meant when He said set free.  They thought He meant  human slavery. Jesus responded, “I assure you: Everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin.  A slave does not remain in the household forever,  but a son does remain forever.   Therefore, if the Son sets you free, you really will be free.  A slave does not remain in the household forever,  but a son does remain forever.   Therefore, if the Son sets you free, you really will be free.  John 8:34-36

The scribes, Pharisees, and religious leaders at that time thought that they were all liberated. Abraham was the father of their nation and they would receive all the promises of God. They assumed that as God's chosen people they had immunity rather than responsibility.  They thought that because they were born Jews, they were all automatically guaranteed by God to receive all His blessings. This is no different than the thinking of most people today.  Most think that if they were born into a family of Christians, they are automatically Christians too.  God has no grandchildren.  Going to a church, socializing with good people, maintaining approved behavior in the community –– none of these thing make you a Christian.  We are all born into sin. Because of sin we are exposed to the judgement of God.  We are truly enslaved by sin.  Sin rules in our mortal bodies.  Only by knowing the Truth can you be set free from the bondage of sin.

A slave does not remain in the household forever,  but a son does remain forever.   Therefore, if the Son sets you free, you really will be free. Jesus told them they were spiritual slaves. As a spiritual slave they had no security.  They were a slave and would remain one.  They would do as their master told them and they would accept their punishment.  Sin was their master and they would do would accept its terms.  If, however, they were part of the family they would have security.  They would be treated as a son, as family. We are all slaves to sin.  Only Christ can change our status to the children of God.  Only Christ can make us free and secure.





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