GOSPEL READING: John 8:51-59
51 Truly, truly, I say to you, if any one keeps my word, he will never see death.” 52 The Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon. Abraham died, as did the prophets; and you say, `If any one keeps my word, he will never taste death.’ 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you claim to be?” 54 Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing; it is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say that he is your God. 55 But you have not known him; I know him. If I said, I do not know him, I should be a liar like you; but I do know him and I keep his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he was to see my day; he saw it and was glad.” 57 The Jews then said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” 59 So they took up stones to throw at him; but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple.
SCRIPTURE READING: Genesis 17:3-9
3 Then Abram fell on his face; and God said to him, 4 “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. 5 No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. 6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come forth from you. 7 And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you.
Meditation: Do you listen to Jesus’ words as if your life depended on it? Jesus made a claim which only God can make – “if any one keeps my word, he will never see death.” St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD), explains this verse from John 8:51:
“It means nothing less than he saw another death from which he came to free us – the second death, eternal death, the death of hell, the death of the damned, which is shared with the devil and his angels! This is the real death; the other kind of death is only a passage” (Tractates on the Gospel of John 43.10-11).
When God established a relationship with Abraham, he offered him an unbreakable “everlasting covenant” (Genesis 17:7). Jesus came to fulfill that covenant so that we could know the living God and be united with him both now and for all eternity. God made us to know him and to be united with him and he gives us the gift of faith and understanding so that we may grow in the knowledge of what he has accomplished for us through his Son, Jesus Christ.
Jesus challenged the people of Israel to accept his word as the very revelation of God himself. His claim challenged the very foundation of their belief and understanding of God. Jesus made a series of claims which are the very foundation of his life and mission. What are these claims? First, Jesus claims unique knowledge of God as the only begotten Son of the Father in heaven. Since he claims to be in direct personal communion with his Father in heaven, he knows everything about the Father. Jesus claims that the only way to full knowledge of the mind and heart of God is through himself. Jesus also claims unique obedience to God the Father. He thinks, lives and acts in the knowledge of his Father’s word. To look at his life is to “see how God wishes me to live.” In Jesus alone we see what God wants us to know and what he wants us to be.
When the Jewish authorities asked Jesus who do you claim to be? he answered, “before Abraham was, I am.” Jesus claims to be timeless and there is only one in the universe who is timeless, namely God. Scripture tells us that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). Jesus was not just a man who came, lived, died, and then rose again. He is the immortal timeless One, who always was and always will be. In Jesus we see the eternal God in visible flesh. He is God who became a man for our sake and for our salvation. His death and resurrection make it possible for us to share in his immortality. Do you believe the words of Jesus and obey them with all your heart, mind, and strength?
Lord Jesus, let your word be on my lips and in my heart that I may walk in the freedom of your everlasting love, truth and goodness.
4 Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his presence continually!
5 Remember the wonderful works that he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he uttered,
6 O offspring of Abraham his servant, sons of Jacob, his chosen ones!
7 He is the LORD our God; his judgments are in all the earth.
8 He is mindful of his covenant for ever, of the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations,
9 the covenant which he made with Abraham, his sworn promise to Isaac