48 The Jews answered and said to Him, “Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?” 49 Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me. 50 But I do not seek My glory; there is One who seeks and judges.51 Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he will never see death.” 52 The Jews said to Him, “Now we know that You have a demon. Abraham died, and the prophets also; and You say, ‘If anyone keeps My word, he will never taste of death.’53 Surely You are not greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets died too; whom do You make Yourself out to be?” 54 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’;55 and you have not come to know Him, but I know Him; and if I say that I do not know Him, I will be a liar like you, but I do know Him and keep His word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” 57 So the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.” 59 Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple.
So, our first question is this: Why did the Jews call Jesus a Samaritan with a demon inside Him? Well, the Jews viewed the Samaritans ans half-breeds, more detestable than Gentiles at that time as they claimed to know God, yet continued their ancient religious practices. I suppose we could compare this to a group of Native Americans who claim to be Christian and go to church but still have rain dances in their back yard. In other words, they think Jesus is “all sorts of messed up”. Not only is He speaking against their religious practices, but now He is talking crazy, telling them that they can live forever.
Earlier in the book of John, we talked about the Jews thinking that the Messiah and the Prophet were two separate people, but Jesus is both. You see, they are looking at Him as a prophet because their Messiah, they thought, was going to be a religiously pious politician who would take over as king, reliving their physical oppression from the Romans. However, Jesus’ relief is not to be that of the temporary physical world, but of the infinite spiritual world. The Jews couldn’t see past their own current existence. This is why they make a point that Abraham and the other prophets died, but this crazy Jesus guy is telling them they can live forever. I can here the snickers now (not the candy bar, but the sounds one makes when someone makes a ridiculous claim). “Who the heck do you think you are?” The Jews responded.
“I am only He who the Father makes me.” Jesus replied. You see, it wasn’t about Jesus coming to earth and glorifying Himself. This is why He avoided the whole political scene. The Jews wanted someone to exalt in their way, not the way that God intended. This is what Jesus is talking about here. It’s not about exalting ourselves, but rather as we continue to point toward God and give Him the glory, we will be taken care of. Jesus was making it clear that it was nothing of His own accord that He was who He was, but God Himself. They saw Him as just a man, and as that man, Jesus was not there to try to earn a reputation or gain influence, but rather He was trying to relay a message. He was simply living out His purpose set forth by God. In reading today’s passage, I feel frustration. I feel the same frustration that I have felt many times when getting in a religious debate with someone. Someone who doesn’t care to believe or even want to know anything, they just want to prove me wrong. I feel the same emotions in this conversation. He is laying it out for them and they instantly reject it.
I find it funny how this all ends. They compare Him to Abraham, a man of God, but simply a man and Jesus says, “I am.” Now, I can see how people might get ticked at this, but only because they are not listening to what He is saying, rather they are acting with pride and anger (something I know too much about) and aren’t shutting up long enough to listen to what He is saying.
What about you? Are you shutting up long enough to listen to what God is telling you today? Do you argue just to prove your own righteousness or do you ask questions to learn and improve yourself and your own personal relationship with God?