John 8:56-59 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.
‘Abraham rejoiced’ the Greek word for rejoice is agalliao which means to rejoice exceedingly; ‘to see’ the Greek word eidon implying not the mere act of seeing with the eyes, but the actual perception of the object; that which is seen, the form, shape, and figure.
Abraham saw three things clearly: The plan of God in sending the Messiah for His people to redeem them and guarantee to them the land of Canaan as an everlasting possession; and he was happy (Gen. 12:1-3; 17:1-22); He saw the plan of God in the Messiah being sent through his natural seed (Rom. 4:13-22; 9:4-7; Gal. 3:16) and rejoiced by faith (Rom. 4:1-25); He saw the second person of the Trinity in visible form (Gen. 18:1-8, 19-20; 19:24).
‘I am’ this is one of the eternal names of God, proving that He existed before Abraham (Exo. 3:14-15; Mic. 5:1-2; John 1:1-2). The Jews understood that He applied this name to Himself, thus declaring His deity. He claimed to be God, which was blasphemy to them, so to fulfil the law of Leviticus 24:16 they started to stone Him.
For a little while until their wrath cooled; Jesus hid Himself and then He went through their midst out of the temple.
John 8:37-40 I know that you are Abraham’s seed; but you seek to kill me, because my word has no place in you. I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and you do that which you have seen with your father. They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus said unto them, If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham. But now you seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham.
‘Abraham is our father’ True, according to the flesh, but this does not make true children of Abraham or true Israelites. One must not only be a descendant in the flesh but must also be saved and a child of the promise to be a true Jew and an Israelite (Rom. 2:28-29; 9:4-11). If they (the Jews) were really the spiritual seed of Abraham they would imitate him in faith, obedience, and righteousness; but they seek to kill Jesus merely because He told them the truth; Abraham never did anything like this.
The only place Jesus calls Himself a “man” (v 40) He generally refers to Himself as the ‘Son of God’ and ‘Son of Man’ (John 1:49, 51). He was truly man and truly God in nature, being born of God and a virgin (Matt. 1:18).
There were ten reasons why the Jews killed Jesus: His Kingship (Matt. 2:2-3, 16; John 18:33-40; 19:12-22); for telling the truth (Luke 4:21-29; John 8:40); for healing on the sabbath (Matt. 12:9-14; Mark 3:1-6; John 5:16; 9:16); for claiming Sonship (John 5:18; 10:24-39; 19:7); and for claiming to be God (John 8:53-59; 10:33); they were jealous of Him (Matt. 26:3-4; 27:18; Mark 14:1; 15:10; Luke 22:2; John 11:48); they were ignorant (Matt. 26:64-66; Mark 14:62-64; John 12:40; Acts 3:17); for fear of losing their authority (John 11:46-53; 12:10-11, 19); for their unbelief (John 5:38-47; 6:36; 9:40-41; 12:36-38); they killed Him to fulfill prophecy (Luke 13:33-35; John 12:38-40; 18:31-32; 19:11, 28, 36-37; Acts 2:22-36; 3:18).
John 7:19-24 Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keep the law? Why go you about to kill me? The people answered and said, Thou hast a devil: who go about to kill thee? Jesus answered and said unto them, I have done one work, and you all marvel. Moses therefore gave unto you circumcision; (not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers;) and you on the sabbath day circumcise a man. If a man on the sabbath day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are you angry at me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day? Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.
Moses gave the nation of Israel the Law as he received it from God, and the whole summary of the Law (Matt. 22:37-40) was to love God, serve AND obey Him (Deut. 6:5; 7:9; 10:12; 11:1, 13). Jesus accused the Pharisees of violating the very law they professed to respect and obey, they only kept up the Law for outward appearance that would produce the praise of men and produce followers for their religion (Matt. 23).
Many strangers (people) at the feast were ignorant of the plots of the Pharisees to killed Jesus, so they were astonished at His announcement that they seek Him to kill Him.
This ‘one work’ from verse 21 was the healing of the man on the sabbath (John 7:23; 5:1-16). The Pharisees accused Him of breaking the law and, in the interest of religion, thought He should be killed. He replied that they did more work on the sabbath in circumcising a boy than He did in healing a man, so who was the greater sinner?
The law concerning circumcision was given to Abraham (Gen. 17:9-14); Moses only mentioned the law in Exodus 12:44, 48 and Leviticus 12:3.
‘Judge not according to the appearance’ – Jesus answered those who tried to kill Him for obeying His Father that the covenant of healing (Ex. 15:26) should be obeyed as much as the covenant of circumcision (Gen. 17:9-14); that sickness in their midst proved that they had broken God’s covenant.
James 2:19-20, 24, 26 Thou believe that there is one God; thou does well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? You see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
Believing in God is no proof that you are justified by faith alone, for even devils believe without justification. Abraham is used as an example in verse 21 to 23 of someone justified by works when he had gone to offer Isaac his son upon the altar. See then how his faith shaped with his works and by works was faith made perfect. It was faith that led him to this act of obedience. Had he refused to obey, it would have demonstrated that he had no faith in God or His Word. Verse 25 speaks of Rahab the harlot who was also justified by works when she had received the messengers and had sent them out another way.
Are you willing to be instructed as to the nature of true saving faith?
The body without the spirit is dead: Only the body dies at the time of physical death. This is caused by the soul and spirit leaving the body. The body returns to dust and the soul and spirit of the righteous go to heaven to await the resurrection (2Cor. 5:8; Php. 1:21-24). The soul and spirit of the wicked go to hell to await the resurrection (Lk. 16:19-31; Isa.14:9; Rev. 20:11-15). The soul and spirit are spiritual and immortal. They cannot go back to dust. Just as surely as the inner man leaves the body at physical death and is no longer with the body, so faith without works is dead (separated) and is powerless.