Thursday, April 2, 2009

Abraham, Your Father, Rejoiced That He Had Seen My Day!

When God first called Abram, he was told to leave his home at Ur in Chaldea [on the Arabian Gulf, near the present city of Basra, in Iraq] and to Canaan, on the banks of the Jordan. He trusted God, and left his home and his family. Now, many years later, when Abram was ninety years old, God renewed his covenant with him.

I am El Shaddai (Almighty God). I will confirm my covenant with you and your descendants. You will be the father of many nations. You will no longer be called Abram (exalted father), but Abraham (father of many). You will be the father of many nations, and the ancestor of great kings. My covenant with you and your descendants will endure forever. I will be their God, and they will be my people. This entire land of Canaan, where you are now a stranger, I will give to you and your descendants as a everlasting possession. As for you, Abraham, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout all the ages yet to come. (Genesis 17:1—9)

Jesus said to the Pharisees and Leaders of the People: “I tell you the truth, whoever heeds my word will never see death.”

At this the Jews exclaimed, “Now we know that you are possessed by the devil. Abraham died, and the prophets died, but you say that whoever heeds your word will never die. Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and the prophets died. Just who do you think you are?”

Jesus answered, “If I honor myself, it would be meaningless. But my Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who honors me. You do not know him, but I know him. If I said that I did not, I would be a liar, like you. But I do know him, and I keep his world. Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought that he would see my day. He has seen it, and he was glad.”

“You are not yet fifty years old,” they said, “and you have seen Abraham?”

“I tell you truly,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born I AM!” At this, they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid, and slipped away from the temple grounds.”
(John 8:51-59)

" Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He has seen it, and he was glad", Jesus said. "Before Abraham was, I AM!" he proclaimed. It is no wonder that the Pharisees and Leaders of the People were shocked and scandalized: This street preacher from Nazareth was speaking of himself as if he were God! But that simply could not be. The Messiah was going to come from Bethlehem in Judah, not from "pagan Galilee". This man could not be the One who was to come.

One of the greatest theologians of all times, Thomas Aquinas, after speaking of the limitations of the study of theology, concluded: "It is nonetheless useful for the human mind to engage in such inquiries, inadequate as they are, so long as there is no pretentious claim to understand completely, and to demonstrate clearly, what we cannot comprehend fully." And in another place, he wrote, "This is the ultimate human knowledge of God: to know that we do not know God."

On this occasion the powers that be picked up stones to throw at Jesus, but he escaped injury and death in the Temple. But when the time was ripe for him to accomplish the mission on which he had been sent by the Father, he went to his death on the cross. And it is by his death that we now share his life.

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