A Voice in the
"I am the Light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the Light of Life." (vs12) "I am from above. You are from this world; I am not from this world. Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I AM, you will die in your sins." (vs23-24) "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I AM.." (vs28) "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM." (vs58)
"And the high priest answered and said to Him, I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God! Jesus said to him, You said it. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven." (Mt26:63-64)
In the previous chapter everybody is trying to figure out 'where' Jesus comes from; Bethlehem or Galilee? Jesus cries out to them, "..you know where I am from; and I have not come from Myself, but He who sent Me is true, whom you do not know. But I know Him, for I am from Him, and He sent Me." (7:28-29)
In this chapter, now, they ask, "-Who- are You?" (vs25)
While we know that a person must believe that the Son of God came in the flesh (1Jn4:2-3), that He "partook of flesh and blood" (Heb2:14); the problem the people of Jesus' day struggled with was His Deity. They -knew- He was flesh and blood; that was not an issue. They even assumed He was born out of illegitimacy, out of "fornication". (vs41) But, while they are trying to figure out His legitimacy to be the Messiah, born properly in Bethlehem, Jesus is forcing them to face the fact that He is not only the seed of David, their Messiah; but more than that, God Himself.
When the perversions today mistranslate, they have Joseph being Jesus' "father". (Lk2:33) Jesus is showing them how He comes from an entirely different place. Forget about Bethleham or Galilee; He comes from "the Father who sent [Him]". (vs16)
Where is this? "I am from above. You are from this world; I am not from this world." (vs23) If Christians would understand this one point, the face of the Church would be so much different. Paul speaks of our "citizenship" being in Heaven. (Php3:20) So many congregations have their minds set on buildings, campaigns, and various worldly ways; getting people to come to, and join them, at 'their' particular -building-. Their minds are not in the heavenlies. When they bring the world into the church, they are not functioning "from above".
What is necessary to be saved? Well, first of all one must believe that Jesus is the "I AM". Notice that Jesus says this name three times in this chapter. Forget your translation that says, "I am he". Notice that the word "he" is italicized. That means, it's not in the Greek texts. It was added by the editors of those translations. You see, not only does one need to believe that Jesus is: the Christ, Savior, Redeemer, Son of God... one must believe that Jesus is -very- GOD HIMSELF. "In the beginning was the Word...and the Word -was- God" (Jn1:1) His name "I AM" is His "memorial" name (Ex3:14-15).
So, Jesus says, first of all: "..unless you believe that I AM, you will die in your sins." (vs24) This was the very answer to their question which condemned Jesus to crucifixion, "..are you the Christ, the Son of God?" You see, that 'trial' came after all these prior discussions. They already knew what Jesus was claiming for Himself. But they rejected Him. They did not believe Him.
Furthermore He says, When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I AM.." (vs28) In other words, when they would crucify Him, then they would know. What sorts of things happened at His crucifixion?
The sun was darkened for three hours. (Mt27:45) There was a huge earthquake. (Mt27:51) And, of highest symbolism to these Jews, the veil in the temple, separating between the Holy of Holies, was rent in two. The Holy of Holies represented the very presence of God. Jesus' death made a direct access to the Father, without the need for human priests. (Heb ch9, 4:16) While the Jewish leaders hardened their hearts, even against all those events, the Roman commander and the rough-n-tough soldiers on the scene "feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God!" (Mt27:54)
Well... We are not bastards (in context, 'like You are'), we have one Father; God. Well "If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come from Myself, but He sent Me." (vs41-42)
And then, Jesus gets down and 'nasty' with them: Why is it that they cannot understand Jesus? Note this well. "Because you are not able to hear My Word." (vs43) Remember, Jesus is "the Word". (1:1) It is the "Word/Jesus" who knows the heart of man down to the division of his spirit and soul. (Heb4:12) Salvation comes through the hearing of the "Word". (Rom10:17) "So shall My Word be...it shall accomplish what I please.." (Is55:11) And how does salvation come? "..there is no other name (than Jesus, the Word) under Heaven given among men by which we need to be saved." (Ac4:12) You see, Jesus the 'man' was one thing. But they were not receiving His Word.
Do we begin to understand why there is such a proliferation of English translations of Scripture out there...most of them being perversions? Somebody recently queried me by e-mail: with "all the translations that are out there" why go to all the trouble of producing the VW-Editon? What makes the VW-Edition so different from all of them, to make it worth the effort? Why not just pick one of those versions? Well, they 'all' have -many- errors. Just picking one item at random, since we are here speaking of Jesus' Deity...-ALL- (every one) of them are careless and not consistent in how they render the various names of God. Even the KJV, which was for its day likely the most 'faithful' of the lot, renders God's name "Jah/Yah" (Ps68:4), for instance, only once; but this name -PROLIFERATES- the O.T. In all these translations it is mostly rendered as "Lord", same as those that truly should be "Lord", as well as "Jehovah". And where these translations have not been faithful to God's Word; where they, thus, -lie-; they are "of the devil as father". (vs44)
This is what Jesus labels the Jewish spiritual leaders. Transported to today: the pastors, denominational leaders, seminary professors, conference speakers; and those 'scholars' who produce the perversions. They do not "hear" His Word, because they are not saved. They are of satan. The translations are full of falsehood because the devil has "no truth in him". Whatever he can interject through his unsaved scholars, "he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own, for he is a liar and the father of it." (vs44)
But Jesus is speaking Truth, and they "do not believe [Him]". (vs45) They do not hear Him because they "are not of God". (vs47) Same for Believers proclaiming to unbelievers or 'pretend' [c]hristians, John says, "We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error." (1Jn4:6)
So now, Jesus cranks the discussion up one more notch. "..If anyone keeps My Word he shall certainly never ever see death." (vs51)
Oy, oy, oy...now we -know- He's a crack-pot! "Abraham died, and the prophets...are You greater than our father Abraham, who died?" Just who do You think you are? (vs53) Just like the woman of Samaria, looking for actual -physical- 'water', these can only see the 'body'.
Notice Jesus' reply. Even though being God Himself, He is not "clinging" (Php2:6) to His equality with Deity. He says, essentially, I am not glorifying Myself. By Myself I am nothing. "It is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say that He is your God." (vs54) Always, revealing to mankind the "Father". Showing to man the "image of His essence". (Heb1:3) But even while revealing Himself, keeping the Father at all times "everything in all things". (1Cor15:28)
And notice the little digs: "..of whom you say that He is your God" (vs54) If I were to say I don't know Him I would be "a liar like you" (vs55) Not very 'nice' is He!
Just like today's "church", claiming to worship God, if Jesus were to pop in during a worship service, how would He speak to the leaders up on the platform? You claim to worship God, and serve Jesus Christ... but you are all liars! You are serving the devil. You don't know God. And they would retort, Just who do You think you are, coming in here like this and insulting us! You mean to say that You 'alone' are "right", and ALL OF US are "wrong"? And He would speak of how He, truly, DOES KNOW the Father... and they would persecute Him out of their church. And they would wax philosophical and 'argue' -cleverly- with Him from all their "great men" and "church fathers".
OK, so... "he shall never ever taste of death"? Jesus makes a further claim now: "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad." (vs56) Remember when the three men came to Abraham, and the two angels go on ahead to Sodom to rescue Lot and family, and Jesus stays behind to speak with Abraham. (Gen18)
Jesus is letting them know -just- Who He is. He is not 'from' Bethlehem or Galilee. He is not from a 'place', but He transcends all time. The very distinguishing characteristic about Yahweh/Jehovah is that He "[declares] the end from the beginning" (Is46:10). He is "from everlasting to everlasting". (Ps90:2) He is the very LORD of the universe:
"Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM." (vs58)
Notice several things about this statement: First of all, "Truly, truly". This is in contrast to their "lies" and their "father of lies". The devil is a liar. But when Jesus speaks, He speaks Truth, because that is His very essence. He says, "I am...the truth." (Jn14:6)
Since we spoke of the KJV above, let's now address the NKJV, being the version presently most recommended in printed form [Link: VW & Translations], but among the reasons why a work like the VW-Edition is necessary. In this place the NKJV says, "Most assuredly". You see how cleverly the language is manipulated to water down God's Word. The text says, literally, "Amen, amen, I say to you..." A word of absolute trust, faith, agreement, truth. And the word is 'doubled' for emphasis.
Then... "I say to you.." Why did Jesus not merely say, "Truly, before Abraham came to be...etc."? Again, 'who' is Jesus? 'What' is He? He is the "Word". "..every Word of God is pure.." (Pr30:5) He spoke of the fulfillment of every "jot and tittle". (Mt5:18) Everything Jesus said has significance.
Jesus is "Truth". He is also the "Word". It was not enough that the truth He was about to proclaim merely -was- Truth; but it was also necessary that this Truth be -SAID-...and was labeled as -being- SAID.
"..before Abraham came to be.." Here we are understanding a claim, again, to that which is only God's domain. Someone who would fulfill the role of.. "Your eyes saw my embryo, and in Your book I was enrolled, and all my days had been preordained, when as yet there was nothing." (Ps139:16)
What is the claim of this 'man' who, according to gossip and rumor, was born of illegitimacy? The embodiment of Truth, proclaiming the Word, being in charge of the Book of Life who enrolls souls in this Book before they are ever conceived (in other words, of similar power to the One who "breathed..the breath of life" to form a "living soul"-Gen2:7), calls Himself by the very name given through Moses who led Israel out of Egypt: Yahweh/Jehovah... "I AM that I AM". (Ex3:14) Jesus is claiming for Himself the same attributes of Jehovah who led Israel out of Egypt; He is claiming to be one and the same with Jehovah. He is claiming, essentially, to have been there! Indeed, Paul confirms this with, "..and that Rock was Christ.." (1Cor10:4)
They recognize this claim, and just as their forefathers had rejected God and made the golden calf, so too these reject Him again and pick up stones to attempt to kill Him, right there, on-the-spot. He 'escapes', being "hidden... going through the midst of them". (vs59) However, when they eventually have Him on trial, that which convicts Him for crucifixion is His testimony that He is, indeed, the Son of God. They crucify Him -because- He is 'God'. The 'charge' posted over Him on the cross was, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews" (Jn19:19) They, being of the devil as their father, do the bidding of their 'god'. It was prophesied to the serpent, "you shall bruise His heel" (Gen3:15) As He bore the "reproaches" of the "many peoples", satan's servants "..reproached the 'heel' of Your Anointed". (Ps89:50-51) Those Jewish leaders likely thought that 'they' had succeeded in condemning this 'impostor', but they (claiming to be followers of God, Abraham and Moses) were servants of satan, fulfilling satan's desire to do away with God's Son... were only allowed to get Him in His (prophetic) "heel"...because He rose again from the dead.
However, in spite of the fact that the religious leaders are rejecting Jesus, "as He spoke these words, many did believe into Him." (vs30)
Remember how the disciples proclaimed, "You have the -words- of eternal life" (6:68) Ah yes, that old gospel song that I haven't heard anybody sing in years, "Sing them over again to me, Wonderful words of life. Christ the blessed One gives to all Wonderful words of Life..."
And notice how Jesus exhorts them. He does not send them all back to their apostate churches where they are members. He says, "If you abide in My Word, you are truly My disciples." (vs31) That's how we live the Christian life, by "keeping His commandments". We prove our 'love' for Him by keeping His commandments. (1Jn5:3) Our 'love' for other Believers is manifest by our keeping His commandments. (1Jn5:2) We can expect to receive our requests of him, only if we are keeping His commandments. (1Jn3:22) And if we do not keep His commandments, we are proven to be "liars", and the Truth is not in such. (1Jn2:4)
Do you see certain people 'praying' and 'asking God' for all sorts of things, but they are disobedient to His Word? They are liars. They are not His disciples. One reason a faithful translation of Scripture is needed, is because "All Scripture is breathed by God..." and is the source of how a Believer is to "be complete" and "thoroughly equipped for every good work". (2Tm3:16-17) If we wish to be "faithful" (1Co4:2) disciples of Christ, we need to know 'what' He commands. One person complained/taunted against the VW-Editon project with words similar to, "It's not so important what the Bible -says-, but that we -obey- it." Well, I ask: How can we obey something we don't know what it says? ...if it is Truth or not? If a sign is supposed to say, "Do not touch the hot stove", but the sign-maker omitted the word "not", and you 'obey' the sign... what is going to happen?
Oh, to be sure, the 'scholars' will taunt, giving all sorts of so-called 'wisdom' from the various "great men" and "church fathers" and historical tradition. But the psalmist noted, "You, through Your Commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; for they are always with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for Your Testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the elders, because I keep Your Precepts." (Ps119:98-100)
Indeed: "Then Jesus said to those Jews who had believed in Him, If you abide in My Word, you are truly My disciples. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free. (vs31-32)