Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus asserts his pre-existence by declaring that “before Abraham came to be, I AM.”
There has been a disturbing tendency in recent years to turn Jesus into an inspiring spiritual teacher. If that’s all he is, the heck with him. But the Gospels are never content with such a reductive description. Though they present him as a teacher, they know that he is infinitely more than that, that something else is at stake in him and our relation to him.
Scripture clearly teaches that Jesus is divine. He once declared, “Have faith in God; have faith also in me.” We can easily imagine other religious founders urging faith in God, but we’d be hard-pressed to imagine them urging the same faith in themselves! But on Jesus’ lips, the two are parallel.
As C.S. Lewis so vividly saw, this means that Jesus compels us to make a choice the way no other figure does. Either you are with Jesus or you are against him. There is no other way to take in this language. To get this wonderful paradox is to come close to the heart of what it means to be a Christian.