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Sunday Services

9:45 am Sunday School
10:45 am Sunday Worship

Echo Evangelique

(590AM WEZE Boston)
Saturday 9:00-10:00PM
88.9 FM SCA
Thursday 7:00-8:00PM

TV Program

TV Channel 23
Sunday 7:00-8:00AM

Bible Study

FRIDAY NIGHT
7:30pm Bible Study
SATURDAY MORNING
8:30am Bible Study
Sunday School
9:45am  10:30am

What Child is this?

“Before Abraham was, I am”

Text: John 8:58; Exodus 3:14

Key Concepts:

  • Christ affirms his identity
  • He is greater than Abraham
  • He is the only reason for the season
  • Rejecting Christ means to reject God as well.

In keeping with our tradition as a church, we begin and will continue the Christmas season with the question that challenges us to look at the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ: what child is this? It fitting to raise this question now, for, Christmas is about celebrating Jesus’s birth. We can also pose the question in a different way, who is Jesus Christ? Our eternity rests on that question. This question should not only preoccupy our mind during this season but throughout our lives. The question begs not only an answer but a reaction; a reaction that will determine your reality and eternity.

The bible, from Genesis to Revelation answers that question. In fact, Christ himself answered that question, especially throughout the gospel of John in what theologians have deemed ‘the I-am statements of Jesus Christ’. “I am the bread of life. I am the light of the world. I am the gate for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I am the resurrection and the life. I am the truth, the way and the life. I am the true vine…” of all these sayings we read in john’s gospel. One such statements stands alone. It is not followed by any qualifier, this is the most profound, significant and for some the most provocative of them all: “Before Abraham was, I am” (Jn 8:58). This statement puts an end to a lengthy discussion Christ had with the pharisees (John 7).  There are two critical questions raised in verse fifty-three to take note of: 1. “are you greater than our father Abraham?” 2. “who do you make yourself out to be?” (Jn 8:53).

The context of this text is this, throughout Christ’s ministry the Jews were puzzled by his identity. They were troubled by that he would speak with such authority. It also angered them that he had followers. The pharisees sent their agents to arrest him but these officers came back empty handed impressed by what Christ had to say (John 7:46). Following that failed attempt, they tried to trap him with the woman caught in adultery. They persisted with their questioning about his identity, which was linked to his nature and mission (john 8:25). His identity indeed should concern all of us, not his racial identity but his very essence.  As the discussion progressed, the pharisees argued that Abraham as their father (ancestor) made them true Jews. They also attacked the legitimacy of Christ’s birth. In Fact, they tried to discredit him by rejecting the virgin birth. The liberal theologians reject the virgin birth as well; calling him a child of fornication. However, without the virgin birth the incarnation loses its meaning. Christ confronted the pharisees and challenged their disbelief as Abraham’s children, for believed God. Because Christ proclaimed eternal life via himself, the pharisees called him a blasphemer, accusing him of being a Samaritan and demon possessed. The Samaritans were half-blooded Jews who considered to be heretics. According to the Jewish culture, their accusation was an unforgivable sin and blasphemy was punishable by death according to Leviticus chapter twenty-four.

Then they questioned him, “are you greater than our father Abraham?” They believe that only God was greater than Abraham. But Christ did indeed present Himself as greater than Abraham. Christ answered their question by indicating how Abraham, seeing a glimpse of Christ’s future, by faith, rejoiced. Their second inquiry followed, “who do you makes yourself out to be?” Christ then gave a most profound and clear retort, leaving no room for personal interpretation; “Before Abraham was, I am.” Those Jewish knowing the scriptures and understood the implication of his statement. Christ is not saying that he was born before Abraham; for that would be false but his statement indicates preeminence over him. The reaction of the Jewish scholars clues us into the meaning of Christ’s statement. The pharisees called him a blasphemer for elevating himself to the level of God and the punishment for such blasphemy was death by stoning. Consequently, they tried to stone Christ. Exodus chapter three also puts this statement in context. When the children of Israel were in slavery, they called out to God and he sent them Moses as a deliverer. When Moses asked God how to identify him to the people, God told him a most reassuring and self- revealing name: “tell them that ‘I am’ sent you”. ‘I am’ is taken from Jehovah; it means God almighty, self-existent, the infinite, eternal God. Jesus is using the same name God gave Moses; which implies his deity, his aseity (essence). He is the uncaused cause; the uncreated creator. He is not only eternal but immutable: The great I am.

The Jews could not grasp that their God could deny himself and abase himself by being a man in order to save humanity. The good news of the season is that He is Immanuel, God with us. He is not a babe in the manger, he us the great eternal I am. So, to the questions ‘what child is this?’ ‘who do you make yourself to be?’ “I am the great I am.” The one who sits on the throne; the one who’s character, purpose, power, love, righteousness, holiness, wisdom and promises do not change. He is the object of our celebration during the Christmas season. Although the Jews at the time were disagreeable and oblivious, they were honest in their reaction. Their intellectual integrity is admirable, contrarily to those who pay lip service to Christ. One can either worship him as Lord and savior or completely reject him. Whether you are a Jehovah witness, a Mormon or Muslim, if you deny Christ as God, you cannot call him a prophet, miracle worker, good teacher or a great benefactor. He is either a blaspheming demon possessed person to be stoned to death or he is who he is God before whom one should bow. A liar, impostor or untrusty lunatic cannot be a good moral teacher. There is no middle ground.

How do we know that we are not deluded in following him? The Father affirmed him and his mission: “This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased, listen to him” (Matt. 17:5).  According to God, Christ is to be listened to and obeyed.  Accepting him means receiving God; equally rejecting Christ means you also reject God. We know he was not deluded for his coming to this world changed our lives, vision and destiny. Bowing down to his lordship is the only proper reaction. Our confidence lies in his immutability (Heb 13:8). “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 1952). We can sing joy to the world because he’s indeed given us joy, not a seasonal but an eternal joy. A deluded demon possess man cannot give this joy but only The Great I am. What is the source of your joy on Christmas?

 

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575 American Legion Hwy
Roslindale, MA 02131
Phone: 617-323-3107
Fax: 617-323-3165
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Every Sunday at 10:45am