Dear children of God, and Baptized of God,
These are fightin' words. Today we have one of the fiercest battles between Jesus and the Pharisees. It gets so heated, that the Pharisees actually take up stones and try to kill Jesus. But it just wasn’t His time yet. His hour had not yet come. Yet, we clearly see God’s love in all of this. How infinitely patient and long-suffering Jesus was with these men. Even though they bitterly opposed Him, and rejected the truth when it couldn’t have been any clearer, yet, Jesus would still go to the cross for them too. Because God’s grace and forgiveness is so big that it is meant for every single soul. For “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
On the cross, Jesus conquered everything that stood in between us and God. There He took away the sin of the world. And now the devil has absolutely no claim over us. When he tries to claim that heaven is not meant for us because of our sins, we know that must be a lie. For Jesus took our sin away. Scripture says, “There is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
But unfortunately, the Scribes and Pharisees would not hear this. They were not of God. They would not believe His Word. “If I say the truth, why do ye not believe Me? He that is of God heareth God's Words, ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.” They could not hear it, because they trusted in themselves. Yet, Scripture is clear, “a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ”, for “By grace are ye saved, through faith.”
Jesus told them plainly, they were not worshipping the Father at all. If they truly worshipped the Father, they would also worship the Son, sent by God the Father. Since they did not worship the Son, they did not worship the Father. The same goes for all false religions: “Whosoever…abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.”
Lest we fall into the same sin, Jesus encourages us to continue in the Word. “If ye continue in My word, then are ye My disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” We need the power of God’s Word to resist the lies of the devil. That is how God protects us, supports, and strengthens our faith. The Gospel is the power of God.
We need to hear that we are saved by Grace alone, through faith alone. We need to hear that Jesus pardoned the sin of the whole world, therefore it must be meant for us too. We need the power of the Holy Ghost, who works through the Word. He enables us to repent of our sin, and believe the Gospel. We need to be reminded of our Baptism often, and receive the Lord’s true body and blood often. Through these means of Grace, we have become and remain true children of God.
What brings more joy to God’s heart, than when we remain in the true Word, continuing in true repentance and faith? For “There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.”
Jesus came as a sacrifice for the sins of the entire world. Through the Holy Spirit He brings the knowledge of forgiveness. Yet, He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. Jesus stood before the Pharisees, not as their enemy, but as their friend. But they would not have Him.
When Jesus said, “If a man keep My saying he shall never see death”, they could only think of their father Abraham who kept God's sayings, yet still died. But Jesus was talking about eternal life that belongs to every single believer. Abraham’s soul went straight to heaven on his last day, because he believed in Jesus.
So Jesus said, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day: and he saw it and was glad.”
This does not mean that Abraham saw the birth of Christ. It means Abraham saw Christ through faith. He believed Christ would come.
And we are justified by the same faith. “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” “Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.”
Through faith in Christ, we are actually more of a descendant of Abraham, then the Scribes and Pharisees.
But when Jesus spoke these words to the Pharisees, they understood none of it. They had no faith. They were spiritually blind. So they said to Jesus “Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast Thou seen Abraham?”
That’s when Jesus responded with those 5 famous words: “Before Abraham was, I am.” That is what the Pharisees could not stand to hear most of all, and so took up stones to stone Him. We notice that Jesus did not say, Before Abraham was, I was. He said, “Before Abraham was, I am.” Jesus was using the name of God from the Old Testament. At the burning bush, when Moses asked God by what name he should call Him, God said. “Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.”
Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life. I am the bread of life. I am the Good Shepherd. I am the way, the truth and the life…”
And in Revelation, Jesus says, “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the ending, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” He has no beginning or end. He is the beginning and end all at once. He is not subject to time, or limited to a specific time, like we are. He embraces all time, all at once. Who else can we turn to for the words of eternal life?
He who stands at the beginning and the end, reaches into and penetrates our lives, in time, no matter where we are in time, young or old - no matter how great our sins of the past have been, or are, or will be, He reaches into our lives by the Gospel, and says, “My perfect life is for you. My cross and grave I went through for you. I rose again for you. Only believe and thou shalt be saved.”
Children of God, the Great I AM is with us, to provide all that we need, especially in His Word. Jesus says, “If a man keep My saying, he shall never see death.” Our bodies will die when our souls leave them, but our life will still be eternal if we keep His saying. His saying is, “If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. The Son of Man is come to give His life a ransom for many. Be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.” He forgives all our sins and heals all our diseases. By His divine authority He forgives sin and gives eternal life to all who believe in Him. In Jesus’ name. Amen.