Before Abraham Was

“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’ ” (vv. 56–58).
– John 8:48-59

Questions about whether Jesus ever identified Himself as God continue to be raised in our day. The surest way to answer these questions is to look at the words of Jesus Himself. Today’s passage gives perhaps the clearest answer, as it is the most explicit claim to deity that our Lord ever made. In saying, “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58), Christ asserted that He is Yahweh, the one true creator God and covenant Lord of Israel.

Jesus made this statement in the midst of an argument with the Pharisees. He had asserted that freedom is only for those who abide in His teaching, the implication being that the Pharisees were not free because they rejected Him (vv. 31–32). Jesus was talking about spiritual freedom, for He had been talking about sin and death in the same argument (see v. 21). But the Pharisees misunderstood Him to be speaking of physical bondage, and they claimed to be Abraham’s descendants who had never been owned by another nation or person (v. 33). So, Jesus clarified that He was talking about slavery to sin, and the Pharisees picked up the implication that He believed they were sinners. That is why they reasserted their relationship to Abraham, for according to the Pharisees, only Gentiles and perhaps many common Jews were properly called sinners (vv. 34–39a).

Christ never denied the Pharisees’ physical ancestry (v. 37), but He refuted their claimed spiritual heritage. They could not be Abraham’s true sons because they did not do Abraham’s works. Instead of trusting the Lord and obeying His Word as Abraham did, they tried to kill the very Word of God Himself. That meant only one thing—spiritually, the Pharisees were really the devil’s children (v. 39b–47).

The Pharisees became incensed at such a charge, and accused Jesus of being demon possessed. But Jesus pointed out that this was impossible for the One who is the source of life (v. 48–51). At that point, the Pharisees demanded to know who they were really talking to, and Jesus said that He is greater than Abraham, and that Abraham wanted to see Christ and rejoiced when He did (vv. 52–57). The proof for this claim is found in this statement of Jesus: “Before Abraham was, I am” (v. 58). The Pharisees’ attempt to stone Him proves they understood Jesus was claiming to be the very God who revealed Himself to Abraham and to Moses (Ex. 3:14). Were that a false claim, the Pharisees would have been just; but Christ proved the truth of His claim by doing what only God can do (Mark 2:1–12).

Coram Deo

Many people think that they are truly free when they can do whatever they want to do—even sin. Yet Scripture repeatedly tells us that true freedom is found in desiring and being able to do what is pleasing to God. Only those who abide in the teaching of Jesus—who rest on Him by faith alone and follow Him—have the freedom needed to love and do what the Lord commands. Let us pray for our friends and family who are slaves to sin that God would grant them true freedom in Christ. 

Passages for Further Study

Exodus 3:1–14

Isaiah 45:18

John 1:1–18

Revelation 22:12–13

Devotionals (http://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals), Copyright 2016, Ligonier Ministries.

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The Way, the Truth, the Life

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”
– John 14:6

The “I am” saying of Jesus in today’s passage certainly ranks among the most well-known statements of our Lord. Before we look at the statement’s meaning, however, it is worth noting that it appears in what has been called Jesus’ “Farewell Discourse.” Jesus delivered it on the eve of the greatest crisis His disciples would face—His crucifixion. This crisis would pass, but Jesus would also ascend to heaven, departing from them bodily. Christ had to prepare them for the dark days that lay ahead, and He did not do so with a call for them to “man up” or to “just get over it.” Instead, He gave them a theology lesson with key practical ramifications.

As part of this theology lesson, Jesus asserted, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). This declaration features three different affirmations that we have already considered in our look at a few of His other “I am” statements. The truth that Jesus is the way to God echoes His claim to be the Door of the Sheep in John 10:7–9. There is only one God and He has only one kingdom with only one entrance—Jesus Christ. Only those who rest in Christ alone for salvation will enter heaven. This message was controversial and offensive to the pluralistic pagan culture of the first-century Roman Empire, and it is perhaps even more so today. If we shrink back from declaring it, however, we are sinning against our neighbors, for what could be a worse transgression against them than to know the only way to eternal life and yet not tell them about it? Moreover, Jesus is not only the sole avenue to life eternal, but He is the source and guarantor of life itself. We come to Him and He gives us life that can never be lost, as He tells us in 11:25–26 and reaffirms in today’s passage.

If Jesus’ claim to be the Way and the Life were false, it would hardly be a comfort to us or worth hearing. Thus, Jesus’ revelation of Himself in John 14:6 as the Truth serves to give us confidence in our Lord. He is the source and standard of truth, the One whose revelation in Scripture and in nature form a sure foundation on which to stand. Since Jesus is the Truth, we are not engaging in wish fulfillment when we believe in Him. Instead, we are receiving divine truth. He is fully trustworthy, and because of this we can trust every word of Scripture, for Jesus affirms that God Himself inspired the prophets and Apostles (Matt. 4:4; 19:3–6). The Scriptures are truth. We know this because the Truth—Jesus Christ—has confirmed them.

Coram Deo

We have many good reasons to receive the Scriptures as trustworthy: archaeological evidence, sound historicity of the biblical books, the testimony of God’s people, the splendor of the content, and many more. However, we ultimately receive Scripture as the Word of God because the Holy Spirit speaks in and through Jesus to convince us of God’s revelation. If we profess to follow the Truth—Jesus Christ—then we must also follow what He calls the truth—the Bible.

Passages for Further Study

Deuteronomy 6:4

Isaiah 44:9–20

John 1:14–18

Acts 17:22–31

Devotionals (http://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals), Copyright 2016, Ligonier Ministries.

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The Way, the Truth, the Life

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”
– John 14:6

The “I am” saying of Jesus in today’s passage certainly ranks among the most well-known statements of our Lord. Before we look at the statement’s meaning, however, it is worth noting that it appears in what has been called Jesus’ “Farewell Discourse.” Jesus delivered it on the eve of the greatest crisis His disciples would face—His crucifixion. This crisis would pass, but Jesus would also ascend to heaven, departing from them bodily. Christ had to prepare them for the dark days that lay ahead, and He did not do so with a call for them to “man up” or to “just get over it.” Instead, He gave them a theology lesson with key practical ramifications.

As part of this theology lesson, Jesus asserted, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). This declaration features three different affirmations that we have already considered in our look at a few of His other “I am” statements. The truth that Jesus is the way to God echoes His claim to be the Door of the Sheep in John 10:7–9. There is only one God and He has only one kingdom with only one entrance—Jesus Christ. Only those who rest in Christ alone for salvation will enter heaven. This message was controversial and offensive to the pluralistic pagan culture of the first-century Roman Empire, and it is perhaps even more so today. If we shrink back from declaring it, however, we are sinning against our neighbors, for what could be a worse transgression against them than to know the only way to eternal life and yet not tell them about it? Moreover, Jesus is not only the sole avenue to life eternal, but He is the source and guarantor of life itself. We come to Him and He gives us life that can never be lost, as He tells us in 11:25–26 and reaffirms in today’s passage.

If Jesus’ claim to be the Way and the Life were false, it would hardly be a comfort to us or worth hearing. Thus, Jesus’ revelation of Himself in John 14:6 as the Truth serves to give us confidence in our Lord. He is the source and standard of truth, the One whose revelation in Scripture and in nature form a sure foundation on which to stand. Since Jesus is the Truth, we are not engaging in wish fulfillment when we believe in Him. Instead, we are receiving divine truth. He is fully trustworthy, and because of this we can trust every word of Scripture, for Jesus affirms that God Himself inspired the prophets and Apostles (Matt. 4:4; 19:3–6). The Scriptures are truth. We know this because the Truth—Jesus Christ—has confirmed them.

Coram Deo

We have many good reasons to receive the Scriptures as trustworthy: archaeological evidence, sound historicity of the biblical books, the testimony of God’s people, the splendor of the content, and many more. However, we ultimately receive Scripture as the Word of God because the Holy Spirit speaks in and through Jesus to convince us of God’s revelation. If we profess to follow the Truth—Jesus Christ—then we must also follow what He calls the truth—the Bible.

Passages for Further Study

Deuteronomy 6:4

Isaiah 44:9–20

John 1:14–18

Acts 17:22–31

Devotionals (http://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals), Copyright 2016, Ligonier Ministries.

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The Way, the Truth, the Life

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”
– John 14:6

The “I am” saying of Jesus in today’s passage certainly ranks among the most well-known statements of our Lord. Before we look at the statement’s meaning, however, it is worth noting that it appears in what has been called Jesus’ “Farewell Discourse.” Jesus delivered it on the eve of the greatest crisis His disciples would face—His crucifixion. This crisis would pass, but Jesus would also ascend to heaven, departing from them bodily. Christ had to prepare them for the dark days that lay ahead, and He did not do so with a call for them to “man up” or to “just get over it.” Instead, He gave them a theology lesson with key practical ramifications.

As part of this theology lesson, Jesus asserted, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). This declaration features three different affirmations that we have already considered in our look at a few of His other “I am” statements. The truth that Jesus is the way to God echoes His claim to be the Door of the Sheep in John 10:7–9. There is only one God and He has only one kingdom with only one entrance—Jesus Christ. Only those who rest in Christ alone for salvation will enter heaven. This message was controversial and offensive to the pluralistic pagan culture of the first-century Roman Empire, and it is perhaps even more so today. If we shrink back from declaring it, however, we are sinning against our neighbors, for what could be a worse transgression against them than to know the only way to eternal life and yet not tell them about it? Moreover, Jesus is not only the sole avenue to life eternal, but He is the source and guarantor of life itself. We come to Him and He gives us life that can never be lost, as He tells us in 11:25–26 and reaffirms in today’s passage.

If Jesus’ claim to be the Way and the Life were false, it would hardly be a comfort to us or worth hearing. Thus, Jesus’ revelation of Himself in John 14:6 as the Truth serves to give us confidence in our Lord. He is the source and standard of truth, the One whose revelation in Scripture and in nature form a sure foundation on which to stand. Since Jesus is the Truth, we are not engaging in wish fulfillment when we believe in Him. Instead, we are receiving divine truth. He is fully trustworthy, and because of this we can trust every word of Scripture, for Jesus affirms that God Himself inspired the prophets and Apostles (Matt. 4:4; 19:3–6). The Scriptures are truth. We know this because the Truth—Jesus Christ—has confirmed them.

Coram Deo

We have many good reasons to receive the Scriptures as trustworthy: archaeological evidence, sound historicity of the biblical books, the testimony of God’s people, the splendor of the content, and many more. However, we ultimately receive Scripture as the Word of God because the Holy Spirit speaks in and through Jesus to convince us of God’s revelation. If we profess to follow the Truth—Jesus Christ—then we must also follow what He calls the truth—the Bible.

Passages for Further Study

Deuteronomy 6:4

Isaiah 44:9–20

John 1:14–18

Acts 17:22–31

Devotionals (http://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals), Copyright 2016, Ligonier Ministries.

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The Way, the Truth, the Life
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”
– John 14:6

The “I am” saying of Jesus in today’s passage certainly ranks among the most well-known statements of our Lord. Before we look at the statement’s meaning, however, it is worth noting that it appears in what has been called Jesus’ “Farewell Discourse.” Jesus delivered it on the eve of the greatest crisis His disciples would face—His crucifixion. This crisis would pass, but Jesus would also ascend to heaven, departing from them bodily. Christ had to prepare them for the dark days that lay ahead, and He did not do so with a call for them to “man up” or to “just get over it.” Instead, He gave them a theology lesson with key practical ramifications.

As part of this theology lesson, Jesus asserted, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). This declaration features three different affirmations that we have already considered in our look at a few of His other “I am” statements. The truth that Jesus is the way to God echoes His claim to be the Door of the Sheep in John 10:7–9. There is only one God and He has only one kingdom with only one entrance—Jesus Christ. Only those who rest in Christ alone for salvation will enter heaven. This message was controversial and offensive to the pluralistic pagan culture of the first-century Roman Empire, and it is perhaps even more so today. If we shrink back from declaring it, however, we are sinning against our neighbors, for what could be a worse transgression against them than to know the only way to eternal life and yet not tell them about it? Moreover, Jesus is not only the sole avenue to life eternal, but He is the source and guarantor of life itself. We come to Him and He gives us life that can never be lost, as He tells us in 11:25–26 and reaffirms in today’s passage.

If Jesus’ claim to be the Way and the Life were false, it would hardly be a comfort to us or worth hearing. Thus, Jesus’ revelation of Himself in John 14:6 as the Truth serves to give us confidence in our Lord. He is the source and standard of truth, the One whose revelation in Scripture and in nature form a sure foundation on which to stand. Since Jesus is the Truth, we are not engaging in wish fulfillment when we believe in Him. Instead, we are receiving divine truth. He is fully trustworthy, and because of this we can trust every word of Scripture, for Jesus affirms that God Himself inspired the prophets and Apostles (Matt. 4:4; 19:3–6). The Scriptures are truth. We know this because the Truth—Jesus Christ—has confirmed them.

Coram Deo

We have many good reasons to receive the Scriptures as trustworthy: archaeological evidence, sound historicity of the biblical books, the testimony of God’s people, the splendor of the content, and many more. However, we ultimately receive Scripture as the Word of God because the Holy Spirit speaks in and through Jesus to convince us of God’s revelation. If we profess to follow the Truth—Jesus Christ—then we must also follow what He calls the truth—the Bible.

Passages for Further Study

Deuteronomy 6:4

Isaiah 44:9–20

John 1:14–18

Acts 17:22–31

Devotionals (http://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals), Copyright 2016, Ligonier Ministries.

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The Resurrection and the Life

“Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha said to him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?’ ” (vv. 23–26).
– John 11:1-44

As the Good Shepherd and the Door of the Sheep, Jesus meets our every need for safety and security. He is the entryway to the kingdom of God that, like the earthly sheepfold, provides protection for all those who enter it (John 10:7–9). He guards us, His sheep, laying down His life so that we can be restored to the Lord’s flock and be free of any charge that the prince of this world might use against us because of our sin (vv. 10–18). But the Good Shepherd preserves us not only from external enemies but from any eternal danger we might pose to ourselves. No one can snatch us from the Father and the Son—even we cannot snatch ourselves away (John 10:27–30). If salvation is truly ours, it is ours forever.

This reality is tied directly to Jesus’ statement about Himself in today’s passage. Our Lord claimed to be “the resurrection and the life” (11:25), meaning He is the source of life and guarantor of our resurrection from the dead. He proved this by raising His friend Lazarus from the grave (vv. 43–44). Lazarus, who with his sisters Mary and Martha was among the closest followers of Christ, died when Jesus was ministering in Bethany beyond the Jordan (10:40–11:16). Notably, Lazarus had been dead for four days when Jesus arrived (v. 17). This gave Jesus the chance to perform a sign that demonstrated the truth of His claim by raising Lazarus back to life. If our Lord had returned sooner, people could have explained the miracle away as evidence of the common Jewish belief that the soul of a dead person would periodically revisit his body for up to three days before finally passing on. A resurrection on the fourth day would demonstrate that Lazarus’ exit from the grave did not represent his soul’s returning to his body on its own.

Martha and Jesus’ dialogue is instructive, for Jesus used it to get the people to focus on Him and not the general resurrection of the dead. Jesus was not looking for Martha to repeat the Old Testament revelation of the resurrection of the dead on the last day (Job 19:25– 27) but to understand that He is the giver and restorer of life (John 11:23–27). No one could honestly dispute that fact once the Giver and Restorer of life brought Lazarus back from the dead (vv. 28–44), although the chief priests and Pharisees did not trust in Jesus as a result of this sign. Knowing who He was, they sought to kill Him nevertheless (vv. 45–57). Nothing could be more irrational. How can one expect to kill the Source and Guarantor of life?

Coram Deo

The response of the Pharisees and the chief priests to Jesus is a powerful reminder that intellectual knowledge is not enough for salvation. These leaders did not dispute the reality of Jesus’ signs. Instead, they knew the signs and what they meant, but they still refused to follow Jesus. Saving faith requires knowing the truth, but it also requires putting one’s trust in that truth and the One whom it reveals. As we seek to know the truth, let us pray that we would trust what we learn.

Passages for Further Study

Genesis 2:7

Daniel 12:1–4

Hebrews 11:17–19

Revelation 1:8, 17–18

Devotionals (http://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals), Copyright 2016, Ligonier Ministries.

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The Good Shepherd

“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd” (vv. 14–16).
– John 10:11-21

With few exceptions, Israel’s ancient shepherds—its leaders—proved to be utter failures, directing the people into all kinds of idolatry. Stories of one failed king after another fill 1 and 2 Kings, and even the rulers who were faithful to the Lord never brought about a revival of truth that lasted very far beyond their lifetimes. Thus, God sent Jesus, the long-awaited Shepherd-King, to fulfill His promise to give His people shepherds after His own heart (Jer. 3:15). This Shepherd-King is the only way to eternal life and safety with our Creator in heaven.

The “I am” saying we find in today’s passage is, “I am the good shepherd.” Immediately Psalm 23 comes to mind. David, the greatest shepherd in ancient Israel, served yet a greater shepherd—the Lord God Almighty Himself. Ultimately, this shepherd-leader of God’s people was just a sheep who followed after the one, true Shepherd. Because God was his shepherd, David never needed to fear evil even in the valley of the shadow of death. He knew no serious lack and even enjoyed a place of honor in the midst of his enemies. David never met this Shepherd as God incarnate, for he lived and died before Jesus was born in Bethlehem. But this Shepherd did indeed take on a human nature and come in the flesh to lead and guide His people. In calling Himself the “good shepherd,” Christ again implicitly claims for Himself the prerogatives of deity. He is the One of whom David speaks in Psalm 23.

In Psalm 23, David emphasizes the Shepherd’s care, guidance, and protection, but Jesus gives us an even fuller revelation of this Shepherd and His role. The Good Shepherd also lays down His life for His sheep. He is no hireling who hires himself out to watch the sheep of another sheep owner; rather, the sheep are His. They belong to Him and He loves them. He loves them so much that He will endure danger and death—even an accursed death on the cross—so that they can be found and brought home to the sheepfold (vv. 15–18).

The Good Shepherd has but one flock, but this flock is not made up of all the same kind of sheep. It includes sheep that are currently in other sheepfolds, and these must be brought to His flock. In other words, God’s kingdom is not limited to the Jews only. Anyone who follows the Good Shepherd has a place in the sheepfold. And when this Shepherd calls, these other sheep will surely hear and enter into salvation (v. 16).

Coram Deo

The call of Jesus is effective, as He indicates in John 10:16. When He calls His people to Himself, they always come. No sheep of the Good Shepherd can finally resist His call. The sheep who does reject this call was never His sheep to begin with. If Jesus has called us, we cannot lose our salvation. We will not finally turn away from Him, for He will overcome all our resistance to Him. He makes us willing to come because He is sovereign even over our salvation.

Passages for Further Study

1 Samuel 16:1–13; 17

Psalm 28:8–9

Romans 5:1–2

Hebrews 13:20–21

Devotionals (http://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals), Copyright 2016, Ligonier Ministries.

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