“You are not yet fifty years old, and you have seen Abraham?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.’” (John 8:57-58.)
In John 6, Jesus tells us: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever” (John 6:51). In this same light, Jesus is saying to us today: “If anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” (John 8:51). Jesus was not simply talking about our life on earth, He was talking about our true Life, the Life beyond, the Life that Never Ends. It is on the basis of this supernatural life that Jesus could say to the Jews: “Before Abraham was, I am.” This is was just too difficult for the Jews to understand and many still do not understand this today. The few years we live on earth is not our real life, our true life begins afterwards.
Just as God revealed himself to Moses as “I Am” in Exodus 3:14, Jesus reveals his true identity as “I am.” Jesus did not say “Before Abraham was, I was” (past tense), rather he said: “Before Abraham was, I Am” meaning He always is and will be forever. The Jews picked up stones to throw at Jesus. What an irony. How often do we pick up stones to throw at those we should listen to! How often do we undermine the truth just because it is different from what we are used to? Indeed, there are certain truths we cannot grasp unless we believe. Even though Abraham was childless, our first reading today tells how God changed his name from Abram (which means ‘exalted father’) to Abraham (which means, ‘father of a multitude’). It was with faith that Abraham accepted this change of name and agreed to be called a Father of many nations.
Dear friends, let us put ourselves in the shoes of Abraham. You have prayed for something for so many years and it has not come to pass. Would you continue to believe God? Consider the Jews who were Jesus’ audience, a man in his thirties says to you, “I existed over a thousand years ago.” Would you believe? It takes the eyes of faith to come to terms with certain truths especially when the visible facts appear to contradict that truth. It takes faith to realize that God made us and that our life on earth is just the beginning of greater life to come and that even if we do not see immediate answers to our prayers, it doesn’t mean God is weak. Let us Pray: Lord Jesus, bless me with the kind of faith Abraham had. Amen. Bible Study: Genesis 17:3-9, Psalm 105 and John 8:51-59).
How to Respond in Moments of Adversity
“The Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, ‘I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of these do you stone me?’” (John 10:31-32)Jesus Christ was working miracles and people were happy to receive theirs. For them, Jesus was a one great miracle worker. They could not read between the lines. They could not perceive that the miracles were signs; pointers to a greater reality – God in the midst of men. When Jesus eventually revealed His divinity, they picked up stones to throw at Him.
It is funny. When people start fighting you, they suddenly forget all the good you have done for them. Even those who received the miracles joined in shouting “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” Moments like this are such to come. Such moments are tests to us. If you want to know a man’s true character, watch the way he behaves in times of adversity, in moments of anger, provocation or failure. For most of us, the animal in us comes out. We begin to say things and behave in ways that are, to say the least, totally unchristian. Both Jeremiah and Jesus were provoked in our readings today and we have a lot to learn from their reaction.
Jeremiah prayed a prayer of surrender. He asks God to fight on his behalf: “O Lord of hosts, who test the righteous, who see the heart and the mind, let me see your vengeance upon them for to you have I committed my cause” (Jeremiah 20:12). He even goes on to sing despite the pains in his heart: “Sing to the Lord; praise the lord! For he has delivered the life of the needy from the hand of evildoers.” (verse 13) The singing of Jeremiah reminds me of Paul and Silas who had the faith to sing while in prison. Unlike the Israelites, Paul and Silas did not complain. Sing praises to God even when things are rough and watch what happens. Surrender to God and Let Him Fight for you.
Jesus had the power to call down fire to burn down those who were exchanging words with Him but He simply “escaped from their hands and went away across the Jordan.” Jesus did not use the power He had to fight back His enemies. Secondly, Jesus reminded them of the good He had done for them in the past. “I have shown you many good works from the Father, for which of these do you stone me?” Are you going through adversity? Do you find yourselves surrounded by enemies? Be like Jeremiah and Jesus. Let us Pray: Lord Jesus, in my anguish I call to you, save me lest I perish. Amen. Bible Study: Jeremiah 20:10-13, Psalm 18 and John 10:31-42).