by Rachael Stelzer
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‘Very truly I tell you,’ Jesus answered, ‘before Abraham was born, I am!’ (John 8:58)
Read John 8:39–59
In today’s passage, Jesus continues his arguments with the leaders of the Jewish people. Their rumour mills have been working hard, and in verse 48, they throw at him, ‘Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?’
Jesus seems to be escalating the situation in his claims, and indeed, by the end of this passage, he claims to have talked to Abraham and to possess the very nature of God, ‘I am’ (verse 58).
His clear statements of the truth are unbearable to these people, and Jesus distinguishes between being someone’s descendant biologically and following the example of one’s father. He accuses the Jews of having diverged so far from their ancestor Abraham, a man of faith, that they are now children of the devil, desiring what he would desire – the apple not falling far from the tree.
It might seem frivolous or cavalier of Jesus to stir up this much anger and resentment early in his ministry. But in the light of John’s beautiful summary of Jesus’ life at the start of his gospel, we see here a demonstration that ‘he came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God’ (John 1:11–13).
Lord Jesus, you gave us a new understanding of what family is – a group of people connected in love, encouraging each other, and pointing to the truth that sets us free. Help us to know our Heavenly Father and share your truth in love. Amen.
Rachael Stelzer is Primary Lay Chaplain at Coomera Anglican College near Brisbane. She is a member of Our Saviour Lutheran Church in Rochedale and teaches primary kids in the Growing Kids group. Rachael loves crafts, reading, and sharing meals, coffee and life with her family and friends.