“The Jews answered Him, ‘Are we not right in saying 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. … Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word, he will never see death.’ The Jews said to Him, ‘Now we know that You have a demon! … Who do You make Yourself out to be?’ Jesus answered, ‘If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing. It is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say, “He is our God.” But you have not known Him. I know Him. If I were to say that I do not know Him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know Him and I keep His Word. Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see My day. He saw it and was glad.’ So the Jews said to Him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.’ So they picked up stones to throw at Him …“(John 8:48-49, 51-52a, 53b-54-59a ESV)
I find this Bible passage a little shocking. Jesus is clearly trying to upset the religious leaders. He is saying things that are bound to cause an argument. For example, “If anyone keeps My word, he will never see death.” Of course they say to Him, “Who do You think You are?” And Jesus answers, “It is My Father who glorifies Me—the one you call your God.” Now their blood pressure is going through the roof! Then Jesus calls them liars, and finishes by saying, “before Abraham was, I am”—and of course, “I am” is the Hebrew name of God.
Why in the world is Jesus being so provocative? It might be the only way He can get these people to pay attention. These are powerful, educated, honored leaders. They don’t expect to hear God speaking through a rabbi who wandered in from Galilee. As far as they are concerned, they know everything they need to know already—and that is deadly.
We can fall into that trap too, can’t we? We trust in what we already know—in common sense, the voice of experience, the wisdom of the world. But God says to us, “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:19a)
That is what God was doing when He sent His own Son Jesus to be born as a human baby to a young woman in Bethlehem. That is what He was doing when Jesus grew up far from the centers of worldly power, teaching and preaching and healing—and then suffering and dying, all to break the power of evil over the human race. This is what God did when He raised Jesus from the dead, never to die again—and promised that everyone who trusts in Him will also be victorious over sin, death, and the devil.
Pay attention—God is doing a new thing. Are we listening?
WE PRAY: Dear God, help me to really listen to You! Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
Originally published in The Lutheran Hour on June 9, 2022
Used by permission from International Lutheran Laymen’s League, all rights reserved
1. Does it bother you when people say strange or shocking things?
2. If people aren’t listening to you, how do you get their attention?
3. Tell about a time when God got your attention.