Over these past two weeks, we have been walking through this tense exchange that takes place between Jesus and the religious leaders. In John 8, Jesus is making decisive declarations about Himself while issuing forth a judgment on the people. Over the course of this discourse, Jesus is making clear that: Jesus is the “I AM” who frees us from our greatest danger, our sin; and draws us into His light of life.
1. “I AM” the Light of the World – That Gives the Light of Life: v.12-20
On the heels of making His judgment on the adulterous woman, Jesus now addresses the religious leaders by declaring that He is the light of the world. In response to this, the religious leaders try to undermine His claim, only to have Jesus issue this judgment: You are in the dark, because you don’t know My Father or me. The issue for the religious leaders is that they don’t know God, which is evidenced in the fact that they don’t know Jesus!
2. “I AM” the Son of Man – That Spares you from Death: v.21-30
Jesus continues by declaring that He is the Son of Man. This is truly a remarkable claim that Jesus makes, especially when coupled with His statement that they will die in their sin if they don’t believe in Him. It’s here that Jesus issues the judgment: You will die in your sins unless you believe in me.
3. I will set you free – From Your Slavery to Sin: v.31-38
Jesus then makes the statement that for those that abide in Him, He will lead them to the truth and will free them. It’s a remarkable statement that Jesus makes. He makes it because the leaders are actually enslaved. He pronounces this judgment: You are enslaved, and will remain there unless you abide in Me.
4. “I AM” – The God of Abraham: v.31-59
In the final part of the exchange, Jesus enters into a lengthy discussion around the role of Abraham. The leaders try to suggest that they are offspring and children of Abraham. The problem is, they don’t imitate the defining characteristic of Abraham; belief. They fail to believe Jesus, and in doing so, fail to believe God. Given this, Jesus declares this final judgment: Satan is your Father. Ouch! The prevailing issue is that the leaders don’t believe in Jesus. This final discourse weaves through a host of different items, but culminates with Jesus declaring, “Before Abraham was, I AM.” It’s a statement of divinity, prerogative and authority. Jesus is saying I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob…and you…and everyone and everything else!
In considering this, how should we think about this exchange? Here are 5 items that we discussed this Sunday and I hope they encourage you as you reflect upon our Savior, the “I AM.”
We Must Grasp the Nature and Importance of Faith: So much of this encounter centers around Abraham. The defining characteristic of Abraham was his belief in God. The issue for the leaders, and anyone hearing this, is our failure to believe. A failure to believe alienates us from God and places us under God’s wrath. Nothing could be of greater importance!
We Must Evaluate Our Willingness to Hear God’s Word: Throughout this exchange, the religious leaders are reluctant to hear God’s Word. In doing so, they miss what God would have to say to them. Are you missing what God would have to say to you because you are unwilling to hear His Word?
We Must Be Humble in Our Approach to God: Part of the ridiculousness of this encounter is the arrogance and hardened approach of the leaders. Instead of humbly approaching God, they come in pride, and they leave not knowing God, but instead separated from Him.
We Must See God’s Judgment of Sin: We see the result of God’s approach to sin, He brings judgment. There is no neutrality on this issue. You are standing under the finished work of Jesus or you are standing under God’s judgment and wrath for your sin. There is no other option. If you are in Christ, you are a son or daughter of God. If you are detached from Him, you are a son or daughter of Satan.
We Must Realize God’s Gracious Approach to Sinners: Finally, we must see how God graciously approaches sinners. God’s gracious approach to the leaders is incredible. He has every right to blast through them, but graciously engages them…in the same way that He has every right to blast through us, yet graciously engages us. Oh that we would see the gracious approach of our God to a group of rebellious sinners. That we would embrace His kindness to us, that we would treasure Him for who He is and that we would follow Him in obedience and surrender.