Read: John 8
Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I Am!” At that point they picked up stones to throw at him. But Jesus was hidden from them and left the Temple. (John 8:58-59, NLT)
There were many reasons, I suppose, the Jews wanted to kill Jesus: They were jealous of his popularity with the people. They hated that he didn’t defer to their spiritual authority and were put off that he wasn’t impressed by their religious pedigree. They were irked that he ministered to marginalized people, hung out with the wrong crowd, operated outside the lines of Jewish protocol and a thousand other things that he did, or didn’t do, that bugged the daylights out of them. In general, the genuine authority and real power that Jesus displayed in his life and ministry exposed the spiritual impotence of these Jewish elites, which in turn, brought out some fierce insecurities displayed in their childish opposition and irrational hatred of the Lord.
But the main reason their hatred turned murderous? It wasn’t that Jesus sort of acted like God. It wasn’t that he beat around the bush about his deity. It wasn’t that he made some veiled and esoteric claim about Messiahship. No—he flat out claimed to be God. That is why they wanted to kill him. In fact, Jesus committed the ultimate faux pas by using the revered designation for God that no god-fearing Jew would utter so causally and irreverently: “I AM!” There was nothing subtle about “before Abraham was, I Am!” Jesus was making a bold declaration about his Divinity—something that could get you killed in that culture.
Of course, Jesus knew that. In fact, his claim would get him killed. Jesus didn’t care—he was God come in the flesh, and he wasn’t going to back away from that claim one inch. That is why he came, and that is precisely what he claimed—no ifs, ands or buts about it.
When you consider that claim alone that Jesus made about himself, you are forced to eliminate all of the other nice-sounding, politically correct things people say they believe about him. In other words, Jesus cannot be just a good teacher, just a great moral leader, just a respected prophet, just a great figure of history. With Jesus, you have to eliminate “just” from your vocabulary. Jesus left the Jews with no other option, and he doesn’t leave you with another option either. As C.S. Lewis said,
“[With Jesus] you must make a choice. Either He was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman, or something worse. You can shut Him up as a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that option open to us. He did not intend to.”
I am sure glad the Great I Am forced that choice on me! How about you?
“The discrepancy between the depth and sanity of his moral teaching and the rampant megalomania which must lie behind his theological teaching unless he is indeed God has never been satisfactorily got over.” ~C. S. Lewis
What If God Took Over?
Jesus! You’ve got to do something with him. You’ve got to love him or hate him…but you really can’t live with anything in between and live an intellectually honest life. So be honest—where do you line up with Jesus? I hope you go with what he claimed, and proved, about himself.