THURSDAY OF THE FIFTH WEEK OF LENT
READ: JN 8:51-59
Jesus said to the Jews: "Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever keeps my word will never see death." So the Jews said to him, "Now we are sure that you are possessed. Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, 'Whoever keeps my word will never taste death.' Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? Or the prophets, who died? Who do you make yourself out to be?" Jesus answered, "If I glorify myself, my glory is worth nothing; but it is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, 'He is our God.' You do not know him, but I know him. And if I should say that I do not know him, I would be like you a liar. But I do know him and I keep his word. Abraham your father rejoiced to see my day; he saw it and was glad." So the Jews said to him, "You are not yet fifty years old and you have seen Abraham?" Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM." So they picked up stones to throw at him; but Jesus hid and went out of the temple area.
At the end of our passage today Jesus makes the claim which is at the heart of Catholicism and Christianity. The claim that sets us apart from every other religion. The claim that should cause us to stop in holy fear because of it's magnitude. "Before Abraham came to be, I AM". Jesus refers to himself using the name God reveals to Moses. The unutterable, holy name: "YHWH" "I AM WHO AM". Jesus claims not just to be sent by God, but to BE God. The Jews, unbelieving, think he has committed the greatest blasphemy possible, and pick up stones to kill Him. The same dynamic is still true today. There are those who worship Jesus, and those who throw stones. Our challenge today is to pick a side. C.S. Lewis put's it like this:
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: "I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God". That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to (Mere Christianity pg. 55)
Many of us have grown up admiring Jesus at a distance. We know he is a good man, mabye even the greatest man. We've been told he loves us, and died for our sins. We may even believe that he somehow rose from the dead. But none of that matters, none of that can change us , unless we step out in faith and believe that HE IS God.
How do respond to Jesus' claim to be "I AM"?
How does Jesus being God challenge us to respond to everything else that He said and did?
What does Jesus mean when he says, "Those who keep my word will never see death"?
For further reflection:
Read C.S. Lewis' essay, "What are we to make of Jesus Christ?"
Take some time to mediate on God's name, "I AM Who AM" (you have to scroll down a bit past the ads)
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever. Look to the LORD in his strength; seek to serve him constantly. Recall the wondrous deeds that he has wrought, his portents, and the judgments he has uttered. You descendants of Abraham, his servants, sons of Jacob, his chosen ones! He, the LORD, is our God; throughout the earth his judgments prevail. He remembers forever his covenant which he made binding for a thousand generations – Which he entered into with Abraham and by his oath to Isaac. R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
What is one way you can respond in faith to Jesus today?