March 20, 2022

Whom Do You Claim to Be?

Pator KJ Kim

John 8: 48-59

In today’s passage, we just read a harsh conversation between Jesus and the Pharisees. Jesus told the Pharisees that they were illegitimate, lying children, born of the devil, who would die in their sins. As a response to these sayings, the Pharisees told Jesus he was a suicidal Samaritan possessed by a demon.

“Who do you claim to be?” the Pharisees asked Jesus at last, getting down to the heart of the matter. Jesus did not leave the Pharisees in suspense for long, “Before Abraham was, I am,” and then, the Pharisees reached down to pick up rocks and stones, neither to scare him, nor to bruise him, but to put him to death.

It was not the business about Abraham that set them off. It was that name again, that name Jesus insisted on using for himself that no one uses because it was so holy.

“I am,” Jesus echoed which was to say, “Yahweh,” by saying “I am.” How dare he say that’s who he was? That was what Jesus’s opponents wanted to know.

We probably do not understand how shocking it was for the first believers when they saw Jesus who claimed himself as the son of God. However, what if we did not know? What if a very strange man were to stand up in church and say, “You all are far off track and you do not even know it. My name is Yahweh. I have come from heaven to show you the way home.”

If that kind of strange guy showed up here at our church today, how many of us would follow? It is not a fair question, because we cannot give back what we already know and we cannot give up what we already believe; however, this hindsight business is true.

“Whom do you claim to be?” the Pharisees asked Jesus. They could not see the mountain because they were standing on it. When people picked up stones to throw at him, Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple. Jesus could not do it for them. Jesus could not do it for himself either.

As far as I can tell, Jesus still hides himself, and appears as an elusive stranger from time to time. My challenge and question for each of us is can we give up what we already know in order to get the wisdom of hindsight? Can we put down the stones we firmly hold? The world still challenges and questions us—"Whom and how do we claim Jesus to be?”

If we were always sure who Jesus is and where he can be found, then, we would stop searching for him at all, but would look for Jesus in every single face here this morning.

Let’s keep seeking God’s presence in us, with us, and through us, not to regret missing the moment after the divine presence has gone away.

Thanks be to God.