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Before Abraham was I AM - Jesus' Most Outrageous Sayings - Part 1

So What? / Lon Solomon
The Truth Network Radio
October 2, 2021 12:00 pm

Before Abraham was I AM - Jesus' Most Outrageous Sayings - Part 1

So What? / Lon Solomon

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Well, you know it was the Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkot, if you know it in Hebrew, somewhere around 32 AD, as best we can figure. And in John chapter 7, the Lord Jesus had come into Jerusalem for the Feast, and he was preaching and teaching at the Temple. The Jewish leaders decided to arrest him, and so they sent some of the Temple Guard to seize him. And this is what happened, John chapter 7 verse 45.

Then the Temple Guards, without Jesus in their custody, by the way, returned to the chief priests, who asked them, why didn't you bring him in? And they said, verse 46, well, we'll tell you, never did a man speak the way this man speaks. You know, friends, in 1971, I was a dope-smoking, acid-dropping, drug-pushing, spiritually lost college student. And I was in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where I met a street preacher named Bob Eckhart. And Bob challenged me to do something I'd never done before. He challenged me to read the Bible. And so I began to do that. I began to read the Gospel according to Matthew. And I have to tell you, my first impression of Jesus was exactly the same as the impression these Temple Guards had.

Namely, I remember thinking, well, you know, I'm not sure whether he's the Messiah of Israel or not, but I will say that this man says definitely some of the most outrageous things I have ever heard anybody say in my life. And that's what this new series that we're starting is all about. I've gone through the Gospel accounts and picked out 12 of the most outrageous things, the most radical things Jesus ever said. And we're going to spend a week on each one of them.

I hope this is going to be a really fun series and a really valuable series for you, because I'm having fun doing it. Now, today we're going to start in John, Chapter 8, with Jesus's most outrageous saying, number one. Here in John, Chapter 8, Jesus is in the temple in Jerusalem teaching, and as the religious leaders listen to what Jesus is saying, they become increasingly irritated, and they begin to argue with him. As John 8 goes on, this argument becomes more and more heated, until finally at the end of the chapter, it explodes, with the rabbis making a really ugly reference to Jesus's birth, to his virgin birth, to the fact his parents were not married when he was born. And that's where we're going to pick up the story, John, Chapter 8, Verse 41. Then the rabbis said to Jesus, we were not born of fornication, or the NIV will say we are not illegitimate children.

The only father we have is God. Verse 42, and Jesus said to them, if God really were your father, you would love me, for I came from God, and he sent me. Verse 47, Jesus went on to say, he who belongs to God hears what God says, and the reason you do not hear is because you do not belong to God. Verse 48, the rabbis answered, see there, aren't we correct in saying that you're demon possessed? Verse 49, and Jesus said, I am not possessed by a demon, but I will tell you this, that if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death. You say, wow, Lord, that is an outrageous thing to say. I know, but that's not even the most outrageous thing he says yet.

Hold on a second. Verse 52, at this the rabbis said, okay, okay, now we know that you're demon possessed. Abraham died, so did all the prophets, and yet you say if anybody keeps your word, they will never taste death, who do you make yourself out to be?

Well, that's the million dollar question, isn't it? And so Jesus replied, verse 56, your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad. And the rabbi said to him, you are not yet 50 years old, and you've seen Abraham? Here comes friends, one of the most outrageous things Jesus ever said, verse 58, Jesus said, I tell you the truth, before Abraham was, I am. Now let's stop for a moment and analyze what Jesus really said here.

What did he really claim for himself here? To do that, we have to go back to Exodus chapter three in the Old Testament. If you'll remember there, Moses was living out on the backside of the desert, an exile from Egypt.

He had been there for 40 years, and he was walking along one day, and he sees this bush burning, and all of a sudden the Bible says Jehovah God speaks to him out of the bush, and tells him that he's going to be sent back to Egypt to lead the Jewish people to freedom. Well, as part of the conversation, Moses says to God, verse 13, suppose I go back to the Israelites, Lord, like you're telling me. And suppose I say to them, the God of your fathers has sent me to you, and what if they say to me, well, what's his name?

Lord, what am I going to tell them? Verse 14, then God said to Moses, I am who I am, tell the Israelites that I am has sent me to you. Friends, here in John chapter eight, what Jesus is claiming to be is he is claiming to be the great I am of the Old Testament. He is claiming to be Jehovah God himself wrapped in human flesh, the same Jehovah God that spoke to Moses out of the burning bush.

You say, Lon, are you sure that you're not reading too much into this? I mean, maybe Jesus just got the tense of his verb wrong or something, you know, it's that simple. No, no, I know I'm not reading too much into it, because look at what happens in the next verse. John chapter eight, verse 59, and at this, the rabbis picked up stones to stone him. Friends, the rabbis knew exactly what Jesus meant. They knew exactly who Jesus was claiming to be.

The penalty in ancient Israel for blasphemy was stoning. And that's why they all picked up rocks to throw at him, because they knew what he was claiming he was claiming to be Jehovah God himself. Now, in fact, all through John chapter eight, Jesus has been claiming this. Back in verse 24, Jesus said, unless you believe I am, you will die in your sins. In verse 28, Jesus said, when you have lifted up the Son of Man, clearly a reference to the cross and the crucifixion, then you will know that I am. And finally, in verse 58, he says, before Abraham was, I am, there was no doubt whatsoever what Jesus was claiming to be here. He was claiming to be Jehovah God himself.

I don't know about you, but I think that's a pretty outrageous claim for anybody to make. You know, a few years ago we were living in McLean on a little cul-de-sac, and I got up one Saturday morning, it was my day off, we didn't have a Saturday night service then. But anyway, and so I looked out my window, I had my cup of coffee, I looked out my window and I saw them. There they were, the two Jehovah's Witnesses working their way around the cul-de-sac, coming towards our house.

And I thought, Lord, not on Saturday, no. So, I got to tell you, I went to the front door saying, this is going to be a short conversation, I'm not talking to these people, I just want to get rid of them and go back to my paper and back to my coffee. So I opened the door and there were two, there was an older man who was clearly the trainer, and then there was a young lady who was clearly the trainee.

And so they talked for just a minute and I'm brushing them off and finally I said, no I'm not interested, I'm not interested, I'm not interested. And so as they were getting ready to leave, the young lady said, well could we offer you one of our Bibles? You know, the green Jehovah's Witness Bible. And I thought, well, might be nice to have a copy of this on my shelf for reference. So I said, sure.

So I took it. She said, but sir, I have to ask you for a ten cent donation to the Jehovah's Witnesses for the Bible. I gave it back to her, I said, I'm sorry, I can't do that. She said, what do you mean you can't do that?

She said, you're living in McLean. She said, you've got to be able to afford ten cents. I said, ma'am, I can afford ten cents. I said, but I'm a Christian and I'm not going to take the money that God has entrusted to me and give it to a bunch of heretics like you. So she said to me, heretics?

She said, what are you talking about heretics? And I said, all right, all right, all right. And I was like, oh, all right. I said, all right. I said, let me just ask you one question. Here's my question. Is Jesus Christ Jehovah God in the flesh? And she said, no, and he never claimed to be. I said, all right, give me that green Bible.

Give it to me. Now you can't go to John 1-1. They changed that.

You can't go a bunch of other places. They changed it. But they had not changed John chapter 8 at that point. So I took her to John 8 and I showed her before Abraham was, I am. I flipped over to Exodus 3 and I showed her, tell them I am sent me to you. And I showed her the two and said, so who do you think Jesus is claiming to be? The interesting thing is in their Bible, back in Exodus 3, their Bible says Jehovah God spoke to Moses from the bush.

I said, so who do you think Jesus was claiming to be? She looked at that. She said, I've never seen that in here before.

She learned to the trainer and she said, you never showed me that that was in here. And she turned back to me and said, who are you anyway? Friends, listen to me. Jesus Christ personally claimed to be Jehovah God wrapped in human flesh and don't you ever let anybody tell you differently. Look at John chapter 10 verse 30.

Jesus said, I and the father are one. Therefore the rabbis once again picked up stones to stone him. So Jesus said to them, I've shown you many good works from the father for which of them are you stoning me? And they said, Jesus, we are not stoning you for a good work.

We are stoning you for blasphemy because you being a man claim to be God. They knew what he was claiming. John chapter five verse 18. For this reason, therefore the rabbis were seeking to kill Jesus because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was also calling God his own father, making himself equal with God. It is amazing to me that so-called scholars today living 2000 years after the events happen that they're willing to say they knew more about what Jesus was claiming for himself than the religious experts who were standing right there listening to him.

Come on now. Those people knew exactly what Jesus was claiming. And that's why every conversation they had ended with them picking up rocks to throw at him because they knew what he was claiming to be. And you know, the entire Bible testifies over and over to this fact that Jesus is Jehovah God. Isaiah nine verse six says the Messiah will be the mighty God. John chapter one. In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and he was God. Titus chapter two verse 13 calls Jesus Christ our great God and Savior. Revelation chapter one verse eight calls Jesus Christ the Almighty, which is a term reserved in the Bible exclusively for Jehovah God. Colossians chapter one verse 15 calls Jesus the visible image of the invisible God. Colossians two verse nine says all the fullness of deity dwells in Jesus in bodily form. And finally, John chapter 14, Philip came to Jesus and he said, Lord, show us God the Father. Show us Jehovah God and we'll be happy. And Jesus said to him, Philip, what's wrong with you?

Have I been with you this long and you still don't know who I am? He who has seen me has seen Jehovah God. I mean, how much clearer can you say it than that? You say, all right, Lon, okay, okay, okay. All right, so Jesus claimed to be Jehovah God.

I'll give you that. But that's not the real issue, is it, Lon? The real issue is what proof is there? What evidence is there to support this kind of a claim? Well, let's talk about it because, friends, in the Bible, Jesus demonstrated all the prerogatives and all the powers that go with being Jehovah God.

Let me tell you about some of them. Number one, Jesus had a power over disease and sickness that only God could have. In John chapter nine, he healed a man who had been born blind. And the man says, John 932, since the world began, no one has ever opened the eyes of a man born blind who could do this but God. Number two, Jesus had a power over nature that only God could have. He walked on water in Matthew 14. He cursed a fig tree and it died up in Matthew 21. In Matthew chapter eight, he stood up and told a gale force wind on the Sea of Galilee to hush up. And there was an immediate calm and the disciples in the boat even saved Matthew 827.

What kind of man is this? That even the winds and the waves obey him. Who could do that but God? Number three, Jesus had a power over demons that only God could have. He cast demons out of people. He cast demons into pigs.

The demons cowered in fear every time he came around. As a matter of fact, in Luke chapter 11, the rabbis come to him and say, how do you do this? And here was Jesus' answer.

Verse 22, Luke 11. He says, when a strong man guards his house, his possessions are saved. But when a stronger person comes along, he overpowers that man and takes all that he has.

How do I overcome demons? Jesus says to these rabbis, it's real simple fellas, I'm stronger than they are. Now who could be stronger than demons but Almighty God himself? Number four, Jesus had a power over sin that only God could have. In Mark chapter two, there was a crippled man lying on the ground in front of Jesus and Jesus says to him, son, your sins are forgiven. And the rabbis who heard this strenuously objected and said, he's blaspheming. Who can forgive sins but God alone? Well, for once they got something right.

That's true. Who can forgive sins but God alone? And Jesus said, okay, fellas, to show you I have that power, and therefore that I am God, watch what I do now.

And he said to the crippled man, okay, get up, take your bed and walk. And the guy did it on the spot. Who could do that but God? Hey, how could Jesus tell the woman at the well, John chapter four, everything she'd ever done, if he wasn't God? How could he have raised Lazarus from the dead, John chapter 11, if he wasn't God? And the crowning proof of all, of course, is the resurrection. How in the world could Jesus rise from the dead if he wasn't Jehovah God himself?

In fact, Romans chapter one says, verse four, Jesus was declared with power to be the son of God, to be deity, how? By his resurrection from the dead. One of the main purposes of the resurrection, folks, was to validate to you and me, to prove to you and me and the rest of the world that Jesus is who he claimed to be, the great I am of the Old Testament, Jehovah God in the flesh.

Folks, no other religious system, no other philosophical system claims an empty tomb for its founder, its leader, not Buddha, not Confucius, not Muhammad, not Joseph Smith, not Rabbi Schneerson, not Karl Marx, not L. Ron Hubbard, not George Bernard Shaw and all of his humanist buddies, and that's because none of them ever claimed to be Jehovah God. But Jesus did claim to be Jehovah God, and folks, he rose from the dead and offers that to us as proof positive that he's telling us the truth. You say, Lon, how can you be so sure Jesus rose from the dead?

Well, I'll tell you how. Because in the first century, when the events of the New Testament were still recent history, all anybody had to do to stop the Christian faith in its tracks, dead in its tracks, was find the body of Jesus or come up with a reasonable explanation as to what happened to it other than the resurrection. And friends, there were lots of people in the first century living right there in Jerusalem who wanted to stop the Christian faith in its tracks, but even though they opposed the preaching, and even though they killed the preachers, the one thing they were never able to do is discredit the resurrection, and the reason is because it really happened. And if that's true, then Jesus Christ is Almighty God the way he claimed, and he is the one true way to God, just like he said he was. Now let me stop for a minute and say if you're here today and you've never trusted Jesus as your real and personal Savior, that friends, there's an enormous message here that applies to your life.

You know what I love to say? I love to say follow a dead Savior, and you'll end up just like him. But in all these people I just named a few moments ago, they're all dead. They didn't rise from the grave. They're still in the grave. They're dead saviors.

You follow them. You're going to end up just like they did. But the great news of the Bible is that we don't have a dead Savior. We have a living Savior, a risen Savior.

Follow a living Savior, and you'll end up just like him, alive forevermore. Friends, this is what we want for you. We want you to be alive forevermore.

We want you to connect to a living Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, and I sure hope you'll think about doing that. Now that's as far as we want to go in the passage today because it's time for us to ask our most important question. And we haven't done this for a few weeks, so I didn't want to spring it on you. I wanted to give you a minute to get ready. Okay, so are we ready? Okay. All right. Here we go now. Nice and loud. Ready?

One, two, three. So what? It's good to be home again, isn't it?

Isn't that sweet? You say, Lon, so what? I mean, all right, so Jesus is Jehovah God in the flesh.

When I walk out of my house on Monday morning to go to work, to go to school, to run the carpool, what difference does that make to the way I live on a Monday morning? Well, let's talk about that. Remember what started the argument here in John chapter 8. The rabbis say to Jesus, who do you make yourself out to be? And in saying, before Abraham was, I am. In claiming to be Jehovah God wrapped in human flesh, all Jesus did, folks, is answer the question. He answered it definitively, he answered it precisely, he answered it unambiguously, and he answered it with no wiggle room.

He answered their question. Now, I believe today in the 21st century that Jesus' claim to be Jehovah God is just as true and just as compelling as it was in the first century, and I believe that as followers of Christ, we must take our stand on this point, the deity of Christ, the identity of Christ, and we must refuse to yield. Listen, when you present Jesus Christ to somebody, it's okay if they want to resist him. I mean, it's sad, but if they want to resist him, they can if they want to. If a person wants to refuse Jesus, that's their affair. If a person wants to renounce Jesus, well, that's their business. But the one thing you and I cannot allow people in this world to do is to redefine Jesus.

That is not acceptable. Listen, in the early church, when the Roman Empire insisted that all of its subjects confessed that the emperor was God, that the emperor was deity, tens of thousands of Christians went to their death rather than do so because they understood something. They understood that they had a responsibility not to let anybody redefine Jesus Christ. They understood that they had a responsibility to defend the identity of Jesus Christ with their very own lives, if that's what it took.

And I submit to you that today, we as followers of Christ in the modern world have that very same responsibility. There are places in our world today where to stand up and defend the identity of Jesus Christ just might cost you your life. But here in America, that's probably not true. It's probably not going to cost you your life to do that. But it may very well cost you your job. It may very well cost you some of your friends. It may very well cost you your popularity. It may cost you your career or your inheritance.

But it doesn't matter what it costs, friends. We have the duty and the responsibility to see to it that people, if they want to, they can reject Jesus. They can resist Jesus. They can renounce Jesus. But the one thing we will not let them do is redefine Jesus. And I'll tell you, we've got a world full of people who want to redefine him. They want to redefine Jesus down to a person that they can live with, that they can coexist with, without having to change their lifestyle. A person they can coexist with, without having to come to grip with the lordship of Jesus Christ over every part of their life. They want to reframe Jesus into a great humanitarian or a philosopher or a moralizer or a teacher or just another nice calm religious figure. But folks, the identity of Jesus Christ is non-negotiable. He is Jehovah God wrapped in human flesh. And when you come into contact with him and when you let him into your life, he is going to change your lifestyle. He is going to be Lord of your life.

You're not going to be able to coexist with him on any other basis. You know, in 1992, August of 1992, my mom died of cancer. And I was out in California at the time. I was speaking at Hume Lake Christian Camps. And so I called home to find out about the funeral arrangements. And my stepfather, my dad had already gone to be with the Lord a number of years before. My stepfather said, well, Lon, I got some bad news and I don't know exactly how to tell you this.

He said, your aunt called and she's handling all the funeral arrangements, your mom's sister, and she told me to tell you that you're not welcome at her home for the funeral. Now you got to understand, when I first came to Christ, I went right away. One of the very first people I shared the Lord Jesus with was my aunt and my uncle. And I told them, Jesus Christ is the Messiah of Israel. I told them, Jesus Christ is Jehovah God wrapped in human flesh. I told them, Jesus Christ's death on the cross is the only payment for sin. And I told them that even though you are Jewish, the only way you get eternal life and get to go to heaven is by accepting Jesus Christ as your personal Messiah.

That had been 20 years before and we had not had much to say to each other in the last 20 years because of that. Well, I called my aunt up directly and I said, listen, I heard something, I'm not sure it's true, but I heard you said that I'm not welcome to come to your home for the funeral of my mother. I said, I'm sure I got that wrong. And she said, you didn't get it wrong.

You got it exactly right. Now y'all got to understand how Jewish people do funerals because we do them different than y'all Gentiles do. What we do is we go to the graveside first and we have a little ceremony at the graveside in Hebrew and then everybody goes back to a relative's house where you all stand around and you console the family and whatever. And she said, you can come to the cemetery if you want because that's public property, I can't stop you. But you're not coming back to my house, don't show up, I'm not letting you in. I said, now look, I know you don't agree with me on this Jesus stuff, but I said, this is my mother. This is my mother. And you know, there's a time in life where you put that stuff aside, you know, this is my mother we're talking about here. She said, I don't care who it is, don't come to my house, you're not coming in. Friends, you know, on the telephone, I knew exactly what I could say to fix this.

I knew exactly what I could do to rectify the whole situation. All I had to do is say on the telephone, you know, I just want to tell you, I've changed my mind about Jesus Christ. I don't believe he's the Messiah of Israel anymore. I don't believe he's Jehovah God in the flesh anymore. I don't believe that he made the only way to get to heaven available. And I don't believe that Jewish people like you and my uncle must know him or you have no chance of getting to heaven. I've changed my position on all of that.

And guess what? I would have been welcome at the funeral. But Jesus said, Matthew 10, verse 37, he who loves father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me.

And friends, I knew I couldn't say that. And so I never went to the funeral of my own mother. Now the good news is, my mom accepted Jesus Christ into her life a week before she died, and she's in heaven today. And when I see my mom, when I arrived on the shores of heaven, I know what she's going to say to me. She's going to say, Lon, you did the right thing. Funerals are negotiable, but the identity of Jesus Christ is not.

You did the right thing. And friends, that's the so what of what I'm trying to say to you today. That's about that's everything we've talked about points to this, that as followers of Christ, the Lord Jesus is asking us to stand firm on the issue of his unique identity, to stand firm on the issue that he therefore offers us the unique pathway to heaven and to God.

And to do this at our office, to do it at our school, to do it on our ball teams, to do it with our relatives and our friends and our neighbors. And if there is a personal cost to pay, then guess what? Jesus said, I want you to pay it. I want you to pay it. You say, well, Lon, why should I?

Why should I pay that kind of cost down here on earth? Friends, the answer is real simple. Because of the payoff, we're going to get in heaven. Jesus said, Matthew 10 32, everyone who confesses me before men, I will also confess them before my Father who's in heaven. Now, I don't know exactly what Jesus means by that. I got to be honest with you. But whatever he means by it, I want it.

You understand? When I get to heaven, I want him confessing me before the Father, whatever that means. So I've got a job to do down here on earth if that's what I want. And so do you.

I hope you want that too. Friends, let's summarize. Jesus claimed to be Jehovah God in the flesh. And don't you ever let anybody tell you different. Moreover, Jesus demonstrated all the prerogatives of Jehovah God in the flesh and all the power of it. Third, Jesus, moreover, rose from the dead to prove to you that he was Jehovah God in the flesh. And now Jesus calls you as a follower of Christ and me to take our stand on this truth and never compromise it, regardless of the cost. This is the mantle that tens upon tens of thousands of Christians gave their lives to hand to you and me.

And this is the mantle that you and I need to carry well and that we need to deliver safely to the next generation so they can carry it well. Before Abraham was, I am, Jesus said. And so may it ever be. Let's pray together. Lord Jesus, we're reminded in the Old Testament that you said, I am God and there is none other. And indeed you are Jehovah God wrapped in human flesh and there is none other like you. That's what makes your death on the cross meaningful and effective in creating a way for us to get to heaven. And so, Lord Jesus, I pray that you would empower and strengthen and infuse into us a sense of courage as a result of being here today and that we would go out tomorrow morning and even the rest of today knowing what our job is, that our job is to build politely and courteously and kindly but boldly and without equivocation stand for the deity of Christ, the person of Christ, and whatever the cost is, well, we just pay it. Lord, change the way we live and change the way we represent you because we were here today and we were challenged by the Holy Spirit from the Word of God. We ask these things in Jesus' name and God's people said, amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-11 15:18:17 / 2023-06-11 15:30:11 / 12

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