v1-11 - Most English Bible translations format this opening passage in a way that indicates that most scholars recognized it as being added to what John originally wrote. We encountered this same phenomenon at the end of Mark's gospel as well. For more on why the fact that these passages are considered extra-biblical should increase your level of trust that the rest of the words presented to you in your English Bible are true and authentic, read our post on Mark 16.
v12-20 - Remember the context here: Jesus is in Jerusalem, in a very tense environment. The entire city has been 'whispering' about Him, and the establishment has decided He needs to be eliminated.
Jesus begins with confrontational language:
He boldly uses the phrase I AM, which is the holiest of the names that God gave Himself when He appeared to Moses in the burning bush (Exodus 3:14).
While at a festival which was celebrated with an awesome display of torches and light on its final night, Jesus claims to be the light of the world.
The establishment challenges Jesus to provide witnesses who could testify to the veracity of His claims, and Jesus silences them by telling them His other witness is the Father (v18).
v21-29 - Jesus continues His confrontational conversations, plainly telling the Jews the fate that awaited them for their rejection of Him:
v21 - "you will die in your sin."
v23 - "You are from below; I am from above."
v26 - "I have much to say in judgment of you."
v30-59 - There were many Jews who believed in Jesus.
Jesus assures the believers that "the truth will set you free (v32)."
The riled up establishment fires back at Jesus, setting off a long conversation about their relationship with Abraham.
They very ironically claim that as children of Abraham, they're already free and always have been (v33).
Most Sunday School students would see the fallacy here.
The Israelites were dramatically freed by God from their slavery in Egypt, were exiled to Babylon for a couple of generations due to their disobedience, and were currently under the rule and occupation of Rome.
Most non-believers today would scoff at the notion that they're not free, but it doesn't take much of a step back to see all of the forces that they're enslaved to. Such is the power of Satan's deception, which Jesus describes in v44.
Jesus flat out tells them the reason they can't recognize reality is that they don't belong to God (v47).
The desperation of the establishment becomes evident in v48 when they not only accuse Jesus of being demon-possessed, but of being a Samaritan (a half breed Jew... this was a pretty low blow).
Jesus ends this conversation with one of the greatest mic drops of all time:
Before Abraham was born, I AM.
Once again, Jesus uses the holiest divine name to indicate that Jesus is not just the Son of God, but that He's God incarnate.
The establishment tried to kill Him right then and there, but since His time had not yet come, Jesus doesn't let them.
OLD TESTAMENT REFERENCE: The purpose that God had for Abraham and his descendants is reiterated in Genesis 18:18-19.
Use the comment box below to discuss one or more of these questions:
EYE FOR DETAIL—From what you recall seeing in this chapter, try answering the following question without looking at your Bible: What festival does this long conversation take place at? (you'll need to go back to 7:2 for a reminder)
Follow the AAA Prayer Pattern:
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: God is your Father through the grace made possible by Jesus' life, death and resurrection
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray for strength to obey Jesus' Word (v51)
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: