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©Michael Player

Chapter 8:48-59 (ESV)

Posted on August 17, 2023  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 8:48-59 (ESV) - 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. Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge. 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! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.’ Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! 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, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.

Question to consider: What did Jesus mean that anyone who keeps His word will never see death?

Today, we conclude Jesus’ discourse with the Pharisees in which He definitively proclaimed that they were not the righteous offspring of Abraham but sons of the devil. Instead of clinging to Christ and finding life, they remained in the condemnation of their own works. For obvious reasons, the Pharisees took offense to His declaration and called Jesus a Samaritan who had been possessed by a demon. Maybe they had heard that Jesus called Samaritans to faith, or maybe it was just the most insulting thing they could think of to describe a Jew who rejected their traditions.

Of course, Jesus did not reveal the source of their theology in order to be insulting, rather to call them to repentance. This should be the goal of all Christians. We profess the truth of God’s Law in order to bring someone to the place where they realize their sin and desire the free gift of Christ’s righteousness. In doing so, we know that we will face backlash and insults and persecution for it, but we love them enough to endure this so that they may be set free by the truth of the Gospel.

When Jesus said that those who kept His word would never see death, He was not talking about the avoidance of physical death like Elijah. He was talking about the ultimate death of being judged by God. Abraham’s body may have gone into the ground, but as Jesus argued to the Sadducees in Matthew 22:32, God told Moses from the burning bush, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” He is not the God of the dead but of the living.

When we think of the faith of Abraham that was credited to him as righteousness, we think of him having faith in the promise that the land of Canaan would be given to him through his ancestors. Jesus, however, said that Abraham rejoiced in the day in which He would come. The writer of Hebrews said it this way, “[Abraham] was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.” (Hebrews 11:10)

To put an exclamation on Jesus’ statement, He declared Himself to be the eternally existent “I Am” who knew first hand what Abraham understood. The reaction of the Pharisees was not to receive His words and test them in light of scripture but to reject them in anger and pick up stones to kill Him.


Dear Lord, thank You for revealing Yourself to be the eternally existent one who knew Abraham and gave Him the same hope that You have given us now. May this help to secure our faith in the day of Your return. Amen.