Matthew records one of the most shocking claims of Jesus. “I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household” (Matt. 10: 34-36).
Jesus separates people based on their response to Him.
What does John 8 teach us about the person of Christ?
The issue is crucial. When I was a student at a Baptist college, a professor at another Baptist university published a book denying Jesus claimed to be deity.
First, Jesus divides people on key issues and the nature of the divide is wide. Notice the contrasts expressed in Jesus teaching between Himself and the opponents.
A division exists in origins. He was from above; his debaters were from below. Further, a division exists in destination. Jesus returns to His father, but His opponents cannot.
Additionally, a division exists in nature.
His opponents are of this world; Jesus is not of this world. Finally, a division exists in terms of fatherhood. The enemies of Jesus act like their father the devil; Jesus acts like His father God.
The manner in which people respond to Jesus divides. People are either slaves or sons; either dead in sins or will never die; Second, the most important question in any individual’s life is the question asked by the religious leaders, “Who are You?” (v. 25).
Jesus publicly, openly answered this question. First, Jesus claimed to be the light of the world (v. 12).
In the Old Testament, God alone was the source of light (Gen. 1.3). During the wilderness experience of the Hebrew celebrated in the Feast of Tabernacles, God manifested His presence as a light—pillar of fire (Ex. 13.21-23). The Hebrew hymn book celebrated God “as light and salvation” (Ps. 27.1).
Second, Jesus claimed to be “the Son of Man” (v. 28). The title “Son of Man” occurs thirteen times in the Fourth Gospel to emphasize His deity as well as His death.
In the Gospel of John, the Son of Man descended from heaven as the incarnate Son of God (1:5; 3:13; 6:62). As the Son of Man, the action of Jesus being lifted up on the cross reveals His identity—the “I Am” (v. 28).
Third, Jesus claimed to be the Son (of God) in an absolute sense (v. 36). As the Son, Jesus possessed the power and authority to liberate people from slavery to sin.
Fourth, Jesus claimed to be the sinless One (v. 46). As one Baptist commentator wrote, “Jesus holds up his conduct as being consistent with his spiritual union with God the Father.”
Fifth, Jesus claimed to be the “I Am” (v. 58). Jesus claimed to live even before Abraham was born.
More importantly, Jesus appropriated the most sacred Hebrew name for God (translated Jehovah or Yahweh) unto Himself (Ex. 3:14; Isa. 41:4, 43:3; 43:13).
Jesus, therefore, claimed eternal existence. The name by which God revealed Himself to Moses (Ex. 3:14)—‘I Am Who I Am,” literally means “I am Who I Am, I Am What I Have Always Been, I Am Who I Will Always Be.”
Third, Jesus explained the reason His identity is so divisive. The religious leaders possessed the following characteristics: ignorant of God or failure to love God (v. 19, 55, 42), lacked knowledge of God’s Word (v. 31, 37, 47), claimed assurance based on physical descent from the father of faith (v. 33), and enslaved by sin (v. 34).
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