Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” The Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon. Abraham died, as did the prophets; and you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death. Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you claim to be?” Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing; it is my father who glorifies me, of whom you say that he is your God. But you have not known him; I know him. If I said, I do not know him, I should be a liar like you; but I do know him, and I keep his word. Your father, Abraham, rejoiced that he was to see my day; he saw it and was glad.” The Jews then said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” So, they took up stones to throw at him; but Jesus hid and went out of the temple.
Another close call for Jesus. He withdrew before his enemies had time to gather stones and return to the temple areas. I could easily imagine one or more of the disciples saying, “Uh, it’s time to go Lord” and whisk him out of danger. Of course, Jesus is in control at all times. Jesus knows when to withdraw and when to stand his ground. He does so, not according to his own will, but that of his Heavenly Father. Jesus’ words posed no threat to the authorities. Why did they have such a violent reaction? They understood the implications of what Jesus was saying.
Jesus claimed a special relationship with his Heavenly Father that was outside their control and influence. His claim was not only unique, but it was also superior to theirs, and that threatened everything to them. By saying, “He will never see death,”; our Lord promises eternal life to those who accept his teachings and remain faithful to it. In John’s Gospel account, sin is the death of the soul, and sanctifying grace is life. It is through this grace that we enter eternal life, a pledge of glory we attain beyond the is earthly life.
Jesus’ adversaries were so blinded by their hostility; they refused to listen to the Lord, and they failed to understand him. Knowing the Lord means much more than intellectual understanding. We must know Jesus through love, self-surrender, and faithfulness. Loving God is a consequence of the certain knowledge we have of him, while at the same time, the more we love him, the more we know him. Let our love of Jesus be so strong and so deep that we will not let anger toward anyone become an impediment to our relationship with God. To love our neighbor is to love God.