Eurasia Blog Wednesday Devotion: Before Abraham Was, I am

A stained glass window at St. Michael's Lutheran Church in Prague, Czech Republic. Photo by Craig Donofrio

A stained glass window at St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in Prague, Czech Republic. Photo by Craig Donofrio

“Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?” 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.’ But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:53-58 ESV).

“Father Abraham had many sons. And many sons had father Abraham. And I am one of them. And so are you. So let’s all praise the Lord (right arm, left arm…).” It’s of course rather comical to imagine the Pharisees singing this little VBS/Sunday School song, but nevertheless, it does seem to be their favorite refrain. “Abraham is our Father. We are sons of Abraham. We know what it’s all about. We’ve got it covered. (Right arm, left arm, right foot, left foot, chin up, turn around, sit down).”

Being children of Abraham is all well and good, until, that is, that’s all you are. The Pharisees wanted to cling to their status as Abraham’s children without actually clinging to that to which Abraham himself had clung: the promises of God. Specifically, the Promise of God. Specifically, Jesus. Although they professed that Yahweh was their God, they had no idea what it meant. After all, they insist that Abraham is dead and they forget that God is a God of the living and that in Him all live (see Luke 20:37-38). We can see that they haven’t clued into true sonship. So Jesus gives them a little history lesson: “Before Abraham was, I am.”

It’s not Abraham who makes you a son. It’s not being a child of Abraham that makes you a child of God. It’s Jesus who makes you a son. It’s Jesus who makes you a child of God. It is, in fact, in Jesus that you become a son of “father Abraham” in the truest sense. Jesus is the Son of the living God, who gives His life for all people so that they, too, may be called sons of God. He is also God Himself, the living God. Only because He is both God and man can He make sons for God and sons for Abraham from we dead stones. Through our Baptisms into His death and resurrection we are made children of the heavenly Father and children of Abraham — heirs of the promise of eternal life through the Son whose day Abraham saw “and was glad.”

Let us Pray: Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son to make us children of the promise and children of You, help us to share the riches of sonship with others so that they too may be called into sonship through Baptism; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

  • Read last week’s devotion here.
  • Last year, the devotion for the final week of Lent (Judica) was on the Old Testament passage when Abraham is told to sacrifice Isaac. Read it here.

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