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serving jesus christ the king

May's Verse

The calendar we gave out this year deals with the all important theme “Who is Jesus?”. Many voices down through the centuries have made all sorts of claims and promises. Many voices in the present make their claims and promises too. They clamour for our attention, call us to follow, believe and commit. How are we to know which voice to listen to?

Each month we look at one of Jesus’ claims about himself. This month it is from John 8:58

“I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”

At first glance these words seem simple and innocuous – perhaps even verging on the unintelligible. Surely Jesus should have finished the sentence with “before Abraham was born, I was” – meaning I have existed from before Abraham.

Was he just bad at grammar? Or is it the fault of the translators?

To the Jews of Jesus day this was not evidence of a poor education, but of a startling and boldfaced claim. You see, the phrase “I am” used in this way harks back to the way God introduced himself to Moses at the famous burning bush – “Tell them, ‘I am has sent you’”. God was saying to Moses that the always-existing one was sending him. What Jesus is doing is claiming to be that always existing one. He wasn’t simply in existence before Abraham like some angelic figure; rather he has always existed. Even the Jewish listeners understood this to be a claim to be God, for we are told in the next verse, “At this they picked up stones to stone him” – the penalty for blasphemy.

But what difference does it make to us?

There’s something immensely comforting to go back to a place and find it hasn’t changed, or to meet an old friend and find they ‘haven’t changed a bit’. That’s part of the comfort that lies behind the unchanging nature of Jesus.

Perhaps we wonder, “Would he forgive me?” We should listen to his words of forgiveness to Peter who denied him. He hasn’t changed. There is forgiveness for all who come to him in repentance like Peter did.

Perhaps we despair at circumstances. We should stand with the disciples in the storm tossed boat and look at the One who has just told the waves to be still. He hasn’t changed. He still calms storms. There is hope for all who come to him.

Perhaps we find it hard to trust Jesus. We should cry out to Jesus, “I believe, help me overcome my unbelief” (Mark 9:23-24) and see Jesus do just that. He hasn’t changed. There is rescue for all who trust in him.

Perhaps we think it doesn’t really matter what we believe. We should listen to Jesus, “I am the way the truth and the life, no-one comes to the father except through me” (John 14:6). He is the unchanging one.