The Jews answered him, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?” Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge. Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” The Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.’ Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?” Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.
Understanding And Applying the Text
Let’s review what Jesus taught during the day. He taught He was the source of living water. This was a clear reference to the water the Israelites received from God in the wilderness. Jesus taught He was the light of the world. Jesus was referring to the pillar of light that guided the Israelites in the wilderness. Jesus taught sin enslaved them. But, He was the truth. And the truth would free them.
Their reaction to this teaching was to say Jesus was crazy. They had already insulted Jesus once calling Him a bastard. Here, they do it again. Calling Jesus a Samaritan was a reference to Him being illegitimate. The Samaritans were an illegitimate people. And saying He had a demon was the same as us saying He was insane.
Jesus seemed to take this all in stride and addresses the insult as if it were only a misunderstanding.
Throughout His teaching that day, Jesus had taught He was divine. He was God. They sort of got it but did not grasp it. In this passage, Jesus, in clear unambiguous words, said, “I am God.” This time, they got it and were going to stone Him for blasphemy.
There were some in the crowd who believed. (v30) Jesus taught them. He was clear. He corrected the misunderstanding. He told the crowd He is not a bastard. He has a Father. He knew who His Father was. He honored His Father. Just as the commandments say. Honor your father and mother.
Second, Jesus explained He did not have a demon. Honoring the Father and not seeking His own glory was the opposite of having a demon. That is what we do. We are self-centered. We, sinful humanity, are demon possessed. Jesus had already taught they were slaves to sin. So, their father was the devil.
Jesus said He honored the Father. And they dishonored Him. They dishonor the Father by dishonoring His Son. They were dishonoring Jesus, with insults. By insulting Him they were insulting the Father.
After correcting them, Jesus went back to teaching. Notice, Jesus did not say anything new. He said the same things He had already taught. “If anyone keeps my word they will never see death.” Earlier that day He said He was the source of living water.
Death is separation. Those who believe in Christ are never separated from God. Jesus died as a substitute for the elect. Those who belong to Him no longer pay the penalty of sin. Christ endured it.
The crowd again misunderstood. They believed Jesus is referring to physical death. Their reaction was, “You have just proved our point. You are nuts.” This was a clear demonstration of the human condition. As sinful people, we rebel against God. That is our nature. To come to Christ, God must change our nature. We are not drawn to Christ with promises. Nor do threats of punishment lead us to Christ. The Father must change our nature. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” (John 6:44) And all who the Father draws will come. “All that the Father gives me will come to me.” (John 6:37)
Many take exception to this claiming it is a violation of free will. This is not about free will. It is about our nature. By nature we hate God. Our free will never choose God. The Father must change our nature. He makes us new creatures who desire Him.
The crowd held Abraham in high regard. In their mind, Abraham was the ultimate example of piety. So, they say “Are you great than Abraham? Abraham and all the prophet died. Every godly person in history has died. And you come along and say if we do what you say we will not die. Who do you think you are?”
Jesus response was simple and straight forward. Jesus started with something they could agree with. Anyone who needs to brag about himself actually brings dishonor to himself. They could all agree to that. He did not glorify Himself. Christ said the Father gloried Him. His Father was the one they claimed as their God. But they did not even know the Father.
During His ministry on earth, Jesus never sought honor for Himself. As the Son of God. He deserved that honor. But, he never sought it. His glory manifested itself in His resurrection and ascension. We will see His full glory at His Second Coming.
They claimed Abraham as their father. Abraham looked forward to Christ’s coming. He believed the promises God gave him. Even in Old Testament times, salvation was through faith in Christ. Abraham and the prophets looked forward to the work Christ would do. We look back to the work Christ has done.
Jesus answered before Abraham was I am. He did not say before Abraham was I was. He used the name of God “I am” The reference was clear Jesus claimed He was God.
They got it this time. Jesus said He was God. They picked up stones to stone Him. This was the proper response to blasphemy. It would have been blasphemy had it not been true.
They finally got what Jesus taught. But they rejected it. Faith is more than understanding the truth. It is believing the truth. It is trusting in the truth.
Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you too will have eternal life.