The claims of Jesus are colossal. A moment’s reflection will prove them stunning. Those whom Jesus called children of the devil were so theologically and spiritually blind that they alleged that Jesus was in league with Satan oblivious to the fact that they were themselves the devil’s captives. How twisted can human perception become?
Nominal devotees of Abraham and the prophets totally misconstrued the Scriptures of which they were supposedly dedicated scholars and masters. Their connection with Abraham was totally ethnic, their ties to the prophets purely national in nature. In fact the level of their religious thought and duty was entirely natural. They had no concept or awareness of the evangelist’s teaching in his prologue to the gospel that “to all who received him (Messiah), to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become the children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (John 1:12-13). Ancestry did not determine as to who were the real children of Abraham but rather birth from above.
Only the truly regenerate can receive spiritual truth and recognize Jesus for who he is. “He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God” (John 8:47). That is straight and shocking talking to the leaders of Jerusalem. All Jesus’ allusions to his deity scandalized the religious guides of Judaism. They were not qualified to benefit the souls of their people. They thought in temporal terms and human chronology. Jesus was not yet fifty so how could he claim to possess and donate life that will never see death? The Jews were acutely sensible of the meaning of Christ’s words and utterly incredulous and outraged.
The fact that Jesus implied his deity by stating that Abraham saw his day from history afar and was glad in it was an insinuation that many modern scholars ignore as inconsequential but it incensed the members of Israel’s elite. “Are you greater than our father Abraham?” They got Jesus’ message and rejected it. It was too bold and technically blasphemous.
But for we who love and trust Jesus the claim is true and his due entitlement. It reveals his dignity and lofty status delighting us in his excellence and worth and the fact of his divinity brings us much consolation and security. For Jesus rises to the acme of self-disclosure that takes our breath away but sets our heart pulsating with extreme joy and adoration.
Makes the grandest claim possible to the fuming enemies that will plot even more avidly to kill him. “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was born, I am!” (8:58). He takes the divine name revealed to the patriarchs, including Abraham, upon himself. That is why he is greater. We can only respond with lowly worship.