Calling people “sons of the devil” was no way to make friends.
The leaders of the people would not allow some strange man from Galilee to talk to them like that so they called Him names, too.
“…You are a Samaritan and have a demon…”
They were not dealing with the “meek and mild” Jesus on that day. With fire in His eyes, He shot back,
“I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father,
And” (smiling, pointing at them with each syllable) “you dishonor Me.”
At this point even the passive Roman soldiers started taking notice. They were amused by the rancor and mildly concerned that such a public discourse might get out of hand. They drew their swords and took positions near the Temple guards who were of the opinion they didn’t need the help of the Romans. After a moment the boisterous crowd settled down.
Showdown in the Temple Courts
Still smiling, Jesus went on,
“And I do not seek My own glory; there is One” (pointing to heaven) who “seeks and judges.”
The Pharisees laughed at this—obviously this man sought all the attention He could get! The leaders quickly lost their smiles, but strangely enough, Jesus kept His! He was giving as good as He was getting and His words had tremendous power, but He did it all with a smile. This infuriated the Pharisees. Then, still smiling, He said this:
“I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.”
A moment of amazed silence was followed by a roar of protest. Who would ever say such a thing? Then the Pharisees knew they were winning the game. Even those who followed Him—including His own 12 men of questionable character—hung their heads at this statement. Why would Jesus ever say such a thing? The obvious response came quickly from the leaders.
“Now we know that You have a demon! Abraham is dead, and the prophets… Are You greater than our father Abraham? Who do You make Yourself out to be?”
This was exactly what Jesus was trying to tell them. He pointed out that He always sought to honor His Father. Time was a fluid thing to Jesus, something these men could never understand. Speaking of their hero, Abraham.
“Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.”
He had come from a world where past, present, and future could sometimes trade places. One of the leaders was quick to do the math…
“You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?”
Jesus knew the truth would be too much for them, still it had to be said.
“Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”
It was too much. He claimed the covenantal name of Jehovah! Angry men scrambled to find rocks big enough to hurt. (They had dropped an adequate supply in the matter of that woman.) The Roman soldiers and the Temple guards positioned themselves to restore order if it broke down. The Roman officer on horseback moved to take the lead, if necessary. When the men were armed and ready, they found the same paralysis that had afflicted the guards the day before now shackled them all. With a confident smile, Jesus simply walked through the angry mob and went on His way.
Then the Jews answered and said to Him, “Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?” Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me. And I do not seek My own glory; there is One who seeks and judges. Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.” Then the Jews said to Him, “Now we know that You have a demon! Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and You say, ‘If anyone keeps My word he shall never taste death.’ Are You greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? And the prophets are dead. Who do You make Yourself out to be?” Jesus answered, “If I honor Myself, My honor is nothing. It is My Father who honors Me, of whom you say that He is your God. Yet you have not known Him, but I know Him. And if I say, ‘I do not know Him,’ I shall be a liar like you; but I do know Him and keep His word. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.
Lord, You have made a New Covenant in Your own blood for our church. Just as God made covenants with Adam, Noah, Moses, and David, He has made the final Covenant with mankind through You, Lord Jesus. It is an everlasting promise. In this sense, we are children of Abraham as well as the Children of God. We are family, bound together with blessed ties that bind in the strength of love. Thank You, Lord, for such a wonderful promise begun in antiquity and still in force today! Amen and amen.
The God of Abraham Praise
Words: (Attributed to) Daniel ben Judah; Music: Meyer Lyon
1. The God of Abraham praise, who reigns enthroned above;
Ancient of Everlasting Days, and God of Love;
Jehovah, great I AM! by earth and heaven confessed;
I bow and bless the sacred name forever blest.
2. The great I AM has sworn; I on this oath depend.
I shall, on eagle wings upborne, to heaven ascend.
I shall behold God’s face; I shall God’s power adore,
and sing the wonders of God’s grace forevermore.
3. The heavenly land I see, with peace and plenty blest;
a land of sacred liberty, and endless rest.
There milk and honey flow, and oil and wine abound,
and trees of life forever grow with mercy crowned.
4. The God who reigns on high the great archangels sing,
and “Holy, holy, holy!” cry “Almighty King!
Who was, and is, the same, and evermore shall be:
Jehovah, Lord, the great I AM, we worship thee!”
© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved