Have you ever been called by the wrong name? Perhaps a parent was trying to catch your attention, and accidentally called the name of your sibling. At 2 years old, Cecelia makes this pretty common mistake, but has started to make it a bit more comical by attempting to recover mid-name. She will look at me and say “Mo-addy.” Creating a new name for me that is neither “mommy” nor “daddy.” Maybe, you have one of those names that has an alternate pronunciation, and people always call you the opposite pronunciation. My personal favorite was when someone thought that I was a completely different person and they come up and engaged me in conversation using that other person’s name. (apparently, there is another 6’3” red-head with a goatee out there. Tom, bless you, my doppelganger)
When we arrive at our text today, there has been a bit of name-calling going on between Jesus and the religious leaders. However, this name-calling is of a greater magnitude than you being accidentally called the name of your sibling. Jesus explained that the reason the Pharisees were not fully obeying God by submitting to the truth of Jesus was because they were children of the devil. This was a very stout claim, and Jesus knew how it would be received.
The Jewish leaders responded with the only thing that they could, “We think that you have a demon.” Jesus responded to them that He certainly was not devil-possessed, seeing that He sought to glorify God and obey Him. Certainly, no one possessed by a demon would seek to please and glorify God. The Jews still did not agree, and when Jesus said that those who believed in Him would never see death, they repeated their name-calling, “Now we know that you have a devil!” This was a serious thing of which they were partaking. They were not just accusing a mere man of being the devil. They were accusing God, the Son, of being Satan. This was truly blasphemy.
But because of their own sin, they did not see that Jesus was truly God. Since they did not fully receive it, Jesus responded with a phrase of great significance in their Jewish context, “Before Abraham was, I am.” Perhaps to our English grammar structure, the “was” and the “am” seem inconsistent. But in the sense that Jesus was using the name of God from Exodus 3, where God told Moses to tell Pharoah that “I am”(God) had sent him. Jesus had given the clearest expression that He truly was God. For those who would say that Jesus never claimed to be God, they do not see what He says in this verse, and what happens in the next verse that proves the understanding.
The Jewish leaders did not look at the undeniable details. Rather, they, the blasphemers, who had called the Son of God the devil, accused Jesus of blasphemy. This was quite the turn of events. IT had begun with Jesus explaining that in their sin, they were like the devil. They resented that and blasphemed Him by calling Him the devil. After blaspheming Him, they then accused Him of blasphemy.
People who have been proven wrong, unless they humble themselves, will become irrational and inconsistent like this. Many will even turn to blaspheme God as a sign that they don’t want to obey what He says. The truth still remains for all those who would live this way, if you die apart from a saving faith in the work of Jesus Christ, you will receive eternal punishment. No denial of the truth will exempt you from the punishment. These blaspheming Pharisees would find themselves guilty on their Judgment Day, just any others who reject will find themselves on Judgment Day.
Food For Thought: What evidence does Jesus give that He is not possessed by a devil?