In our text for today, Jesus says, "Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death."
Only God can give immortality to men. so, the Jews that did not believe in Jesus said "Now we know that you have a demon. Abraham died, and the prophets; and you say: He who keeps my word will never taste death. Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? Also the prophets died. Who do you make yourself? "
Abraham and the prophets believed in the promise of a Savior, but died, because they were sinners and did not perfectly fulfill God's will. But, Jesus answered them, "Abraham your father rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it, and was." Abraham believed in the promise that the Messiah will come from his descendants. With these words, "he rejoiced to see my day," Jesus told them that He was the Messiah promised to Abraham.
His enemies did not want to understand. "Then the Jews said to him: You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham? Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am."
Our Old Testament lesson (Numbers 21: 4-9) tells of the murmuring of the people against Moses in the desert and the punishment of the fiery serpents. The bronze serpent on the rod, an image of death, saved the people who repented and believed in the mercy of God. This story pointed to the sacrifice of Jesus (John 3:14).
Moses' ministry began when Moses heard the voice of the burning bush that sent him to liberate the Israelites from slavery. He asked, "What is your name?" And God answered him, "I am who I am." The proper name of God in the Old Testament consisted of four letters often translated as Jehovah. This name literally means "He who was, is and will be". In the first person, this is "I am who I am".
Therefore, with the words, "Before Abraham was, I am," Jesus proclaimed His existence from eternity. Before His birth in Bethlehem, His childhood in Nazareth, He existed before Abraham. As the first chapter of the Gospel according to St. John says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Furthermore, "And that Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). This Word is Jesus. Jesus is Jehovah, that is, the God of Abraham and the prophets.
Because Jesus is God, He has all the authority to forgive sins and promise eternal life for His followers. But, to fulfill these promises and satisfy the justice of God the Father almighty, the Father sent Jesus to this world to live as a man and die on the cross.
The time of His death had not come, then when the Jews picked up stones to kill him, God hid him and Jesus left the temple. Then He completed His mission on the cross and that is why we have the sure promise of forgiveness of our sins. Every Sunday, as a pastor called and ordained by Christ and the church, I announce the complete forgiveness of all your sins, in place and at the command of Jesus. The words are not mine, but Jesus'. Then, they are as sure as if they had come from the mouth of Jesus.
And by the resurrection of Jesus from death we have the sure promise of eternal life in baptism. Like Abraham and the prophets, we are saints of God, but at the same time sinners. Because of the sinful nature, our bodies are going to die, but like Christ we will come to the resurrection to eternal life. In this promise, we have the peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.
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