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The Great Dispute Over The Great I AM

Dr. Shana Wise

Jesus was teaching the people and at the same time responding to his critics the Pharisees.

We can easily say as believers how wrong the Pharisees were and look down upon them, however sometimes through our actions and attitudes, we can act just like them concerning Jesus. Let us examine the dispute that the Pharisees had with Jesus’s testimonial teaching.

John Chapter 8:12-58 NIV

12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

13 The Pharisees challenged him, “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.”

14 Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going. 15 You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. 16 But if I do judge, my decisions are true, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me. 17 In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is true. 18 I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.”

19 Then they asked him, “Where is your father?”

“You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” 20 He spoke these words while teaching in the temple courts near the place where the offerings were put. Yet no one seized him, because his hour had not yet come.

· Our faith is based on Jesus being God in the flesh. The one who died for the sins of the world. We all were in darkness, and we responded the Light of the World who is Jesus Christ. However, the Pharisees did not receive this message. It was too must for them to believe or have faith in. Even today many people do not believe in Jesus as God in the flesh, it is too hard for them to comprehend-why? Because believing in Christ is believing by faith and not by comprehension.

· We as believers can still dispute Jesus as being the light of the world through our actions. Darkness should not be a part of our lives or in our hearts, but it will find itself there if we do not follow Christ whole heartedly.

Dispute Over Who Jesus Is

21 Once more Jesus said to them, “I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come.”

22 This made the Jews ask, “Will he kill himself? Is that why he says, ‘Where I go, you cannot come’?”

23 But he continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.”

25 “Who are you?” they asked.

“Just what I have been telling you from the beginning,” Jesus replied. 26 “I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is trustworthy, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.”

27 They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father. 28 So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. 29 The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.” 30 Even as he spoke, many believed in him.

· The question is still being posed today by unbelievers: “Who are you?” they asked”. But Jesus’ response to use is written in Mark 8:29, “who do you say that I am”?

· During this part of the text, Jesus had not died and resurrected yet, however he had been going around teaching and performing miracles so that they would believe. Today, Jesus is still preforming miracles and he had resurrected, and yet many refuse to belief this testimony.

· As believers, we can also dispute Jesus’ testimony by denying who He is. Our everyday actions (our witness) towards one another and the Father will reveal if we really know Him or not. If we do know him, then evangelism should be at the forefront of our witness.

Dispute Over Whose Children Jesus’ Opponents Are

31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

33 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”

34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word. 38 I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father.”

39 “Abraham is our father,” they answered.

“If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do what Abraham did. 40 As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. 41 You are doing the works of your own father.”

“We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.”

42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. 43 Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! 46 Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47 Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”

48 The Jews answered him, “Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?”

49 “I am not possessed by a demon,” said Jesus, “but I honor my Father and you dishonor me. 50 I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. 51 Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.”

52 At this they exclaimed, “Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that whoever obeys your word will never taste death.53 Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?”

54 Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. 55 Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and obey his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”

57 “You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!”

58 “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”

59 At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.

· Many people do not believe that they are a slave to sin. They also don’t believe that they are sick and in need of a savior. That was the problem for the Pharisees, and it is still a problem for all those who refuse to believe in Jesus Christ.

· The Pharisees did not want to accept the truth of Jesus’ teaching because they were used to being in control. Their religion superseded truth. They had pride that they were descendants of Abraham and do to this fact they felt they were righteous. The problem was their hearts. Abraham knew God, but they did not. Jesus was God in the flesh, but they could not see this because they had replaced God with their ideologies and traditions. There actions and attitudes reflected the nature of their hearts, which was anti-Christ.

· “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” This statement alone blew threw a rock in their glass mirror of religion and shattered it! To the point, they wanted to kill him. Why? Because in this statement, Jesus was claiming to be God, the Creator of all. Satan knew this the whole while, but now it was being revealed to them. Notice the response of the Pharisees, they wanted to kill Jesus because they already had murder on their hearts. Satan is the father of lies, deception, and murder. Jesus told the Pharisee that their father is the devil.

· One might question, how could leaders in the temple be so anti-Christ? The answer is that they did not know the Father: they knew of Him but did not know Him for themselves. They paraded around in pride and deception, and they never desired to know God or display his works.

· The question remains firm today, will you accept or reject Jesus as the Great I AM? Are you allowing Him to be all that He claims He is to you (ex. Immanuel, Good Shepard, Bread of Life, etc.)?

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About the Author

Dr. Shana Wise is an ordained Pastor and CEO of Wise Choice Ministries (est. 2016). She is the founder of The Well Christian Women’s Network formally known as Christian Women Preachers United. Dr. Wise is the author of women’s devotional, Acts of Intercession, The Impact of Your Election, and co-author of Basic Ministry Training Manual (available on Amazon) and Chief Women Arise. She received a Doctor of Divinity degree in 2019 from St. Thomas Christian University. Her passion is to teach and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, equip others to apply the Word to their lives, and demonstrate the Word through the power of the Holy Spirit. She is a televangelist that appears on social media outlets. Shana is married to Deacon Ron Wise and is the mother of four children.

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Chief Women Arise

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