I am- Thursday, 5th Week of Lent – John 8:51-59

Quite clearly, the Jews seem to have lost it. Now they have nothing concrete to accuse Jesus of, so they call Him a Samaritan (8:48) and claim that He is possessed.  Previously in the same chapter they insinuated that He was of illegitimate birth. But nothing stops Jesus from declaring who He is, the great “I am”.  To the twenty first century mind, “I am” sounds like conjugation in grammar. Not to a Jew.

Notice that Jesus does not say, ‘before Abraham was, I was’ He says, “Before Abraham was, I AM.” The first Jew to hear these words was Moses. In Exodus 3: 14, God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, I AM has sent me to you.'”  The Jews, listening to Jesus proclaim these words, knew right away that Jesus was claiming to be God.

Any one claiming to bear the divine name of God would incur only one punishment; death by stoning. This was the punishment for blasphemy and it is no wonder that they pick up stones to throw at Him.

John’s gospel is the only one to have the ‘I am ‘statements of Jesus; seven of them. This is John’s presentation of Jesus. The “I am” statements in the Fourth Gospel make known Jesus as the source of life and abundant grace; they signal the very presence of God.

Contrast these statements to the ‘I am NOT’ statements of John the Baptist in the beginning of the same gospel (1:20, 21, 27 and 3:28) John confesses, “I am not the Messiah, I am not Elijah, I am not worthy to untie the thongs of His sandals etc. John was clear who he was not. Jesus is clear who He is.

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