April 8, 2022
WTS Fundraising Counsel and Planned Giving Advisor
|Movie Title:||It’s A Wonderful Life|
The Promise ~ John 8:51-59
Chapter 8 in the Gospel of John recounts a dialogue Jesus has with a group of people outside the Temple. Verses 51-59 complete this chapter with a discussion of the relationship of Jesus and Abraham, the patriarch of Judaism. Jesus avows, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever keeps my word, he will never see death” (John 8:51). His audience counters by accusing Jesus of “hav[ing] a demon” (John 8:52) because, after all, Abraham and the prophets died and now, Jesus is somehow claiming to be greater than these foundational figures of Judaism. Jesus responds by talking about Abraham and his delight in seeing the day of Jesus and concludes with this statement:
“Truly, truly, before Abraham was, I am.”
This verse epitomizes the essence of John’s gospel echoing the opening words of the book: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God” (John 1:1). Jesus makes clear that his existence predates Abraham’s and we can infer that this existence will continue after earthly death.
Today is the last Thursday before Holy Week. Seven days from now, Jesus and his disciples will be together for the last time at what we call “The Last Supper” which for them was a Seder celebrating Passover. At this meal, Jesus will institute the Eucharist which has become a sacred rite observed regularly in our Christian worship. Receiving the bread and wine symbolizes our oneness with Jesus and reminds us of his promise in today’s gospel that if we keep his word, “[w]e will never see death.”
Reflection: How do I interpret Jesus’s promise of everlasting life? How do I keep his word every day?