Life In His Word

John 8:51-59
Gen 17:3-9 / Psa 105

Very truly I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I am!
(John 8:58)

From death where can we find our shelter,
When life is filled with uncertainty?
That we may never stray or falter,
Lord let Your Word guide our destiny.

(Jesus said,) “Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.” At this they exclaimed, “Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that whoever obeys your word will never taste death. Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?” Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. Though you do not know Him, I know Him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know Him and obey His word. Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.” They said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and you have seen Abraham!” Jesus answered them, “Very truly I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I am!” At this, they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself, and slipped away from the temple grounds. (John 8:51-59)

Reflection

It was obvious that this dialogue between Jesus and the Jews would never find a common ground. Jesus was speaking in spiritual terms, but the Jews were taking His words literally. He said, “Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.” What He meant was: Abraham believed what Yahweh God promised him, and he was glad when Isaac was born, the first predecessor of the Messiah. Hebrews 6:13-15 says, “When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for Him to swear by, He swore by Himself, saying, ‘I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.’ And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.” But the Jews could not comprehend this, and incredulously, they replied, “You are not yet fifty years old, and you have seen Abraham!” At this, Jesus had to tell them another truth: “Very truly I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I am!” At these words, the crowd tried to stone Him.

This was the second time that our Lord Jesus was able to evade the crowds that wanted to kill Him for the sin of blasphemy (making Himself equal to God by saying, “Before Abraham came to be, I am”.) The other instance was in His own hometown of Nazareth, when the crowds, enraged by His rebuke of their unbelief, tried to hurl Him down a cliff, but He simply “passed through the midst of them and walked away” (Lk.4:30). The crowds could not harm Him because “it was not yet His time”. These would have been enough proof for them that Jesus was really what He claimed Himself to be. As He told them, “whoever obeys my word will never see death.” They could not kill Him because He Himself was obeying the Father, Who alone determined when He would face the end of His life on earth to fulfill His mission.

Those who obey the Word of God will never see death. Death in this passage means being in the state of mortal sin, being estranged from the glory of God. Those who faithfully live the Gospel values of Jesus are immune to sin, because aside from being strengthened by His Word, the Holy Spirit takes residence in their hearts. No sin can ever be stronger to take His place. That is why they have life, life eternal which the Holy Spirit gives to those who are in the state of sanctifying grace.

Dear God, “create in me a clean heart, put a new and right spirit within me; cast me not away from your presence” … let me receive You every day in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, that I may persevere in the hope of eternal life. Amen.

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