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Before Abraham was, I am

John 8:46-59

Pastor David Ernst

Fifth Sunday in Lent
Epiphany Lutheran Mission of La Caramuca  
Barinas, Venezuela

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Sun, Mar 29, 2020 

Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Today is the last Sunday before Easter. The next one is Palm Sunday. Let's reflect once again on the promise the Lord has made us, the promise of eternal life. In our text for today Jesus speaks directly and clearly about eternal life and also His divinity.

Last Sunday I spoke of an episode in the Gospel according to Saint Luke in which His enemies denounced Jesus. They said that Jesus used the power of a demon to cast out demons. Jesus answered that they denounced Him because they knew that if the finger of God was in the words and deeds of Jesus, the same finger of God that performed miracles for the rod of Aaron and wrote the Law on stone tablets for Moses, the kingdom of God had come among them.

In our text for today, once again the Pharisees denounced Jesus. "Do we not say well that you are a Samaritan, and that you have a devil?" Jesus asked them why they attacked His person and did not present arguments based on the Word of God. And He said something else. "Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death."

This was something new. The Old Testament books prophesied the coming of the Messiah, a descendant of Abraham who would be a blessing to all nations, and a descendant of King David who would reign forever. Abraham believed in this promise, as we read in the Old Testament lesson (Genesis 22: 1-14). Isaac, his only legitimate son, was the son of the promise of Abraham's offspring like stars in the sky or sand on the seashore. Abraham believed that God would never deny His promise. So, when God was put to test Abraham and commanded him to sacrifice Isaac, Abraham obeyed God in the confidence that God would provide a substitute. And God did so. When Abraham reached out to sacrifice his only son, the angel stopped him and pointed to a ram for the sacrifice.

However, God did not lie or change his mind. A son of Abraham had to be sacrificed for the sins of the world. But not Isaac, but Jesus Christ. And more than the son of Abraham and King David, Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God, begotten by the Father before creation. He is the second person of the Holy Trinity. The Savior of the world had to be a true man, to be tempted in every way that we are tempted, also a true God to perfectly fulfill the will of God. In this way He suffered and died in our places, He rose on the third day and ascended to heaven as true God and true man, to judge the living and the dead.

In this passage, Jesus revealed that He is not only the true man, he is also the true God. "Then the Jews said to him, Now we know that you have a devil. Abraham died, and the prophets; And you say: He who keeps my word will never taste death. Are you older than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets also died. Who do you make yourself? ”

Jesus did not speak of physical death, but eternal death. As sinners we will die, but as children of God in the baptism of Jesus Christ we will live. So Jesus said, "Abraham your father rejoiced at seeing my day; and he saw it, and was glad." But they were told, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham? Jesus said to them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. "

For the Jews, the name of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was Jehovah, which means, He who was, is now and will be forever. In the first person, this name is I am. This is the name that God identified to Moses from the burning bush. The Jehovah's Witnesses say that Jesus is not equal to Jehovah, only God the Almighty Father is Jehovah, but this verse clearly says that yes, Jesus is Jehovah, equal to the Father and the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, we believe in the promise that we will pass to eternal life at the last judgment when Christ in his glory will judge the living and the dead. When we start Easter and think of the pain and horror of the crucifixion, we remember that beyond is the resurrection. And during our trials and sufferings, we remember the promise of the resurrection for us. In this promise we have the peace that passes all understanding. Amen.

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