John 5-8

Jesus heals a paralyzed man by the Pool of Bethesda, in Jerusalem.  The Jews seek to persecute him because he did this on a Sabbath, and claimed to be God’s son.  Jesus gives them a long talk, on these subjects: the Son only does the Father’s will; whoever honors the Son honors the Father; a resurrection of the dead will occur, and the resurrected will be judged; John bore witness of Jesus, but you didn’t believe him; scripture testify of Jesus, but you didn’t believe it; Jesus will accuse you to the Father.  Jesus goes over the Sea of Galilee and miraculously feeds 5000 men with only five loaves of bread and two small fish.  While his disciples were crossing the sea, Jesus appears to them while walking on water.  After he gets to the other side, he delivers another sermon to the crowd there: Jesus is the bread of life, so that whoever eats his flesh and drinks his blood will have eternal life.  Many disciples turn away, not understanding this.

Jesus and disciples go to the Feast of the Tabernacles in Jerusalem, where some Pharisees want to capture him.  He goes to the temple, and the Pharisees bring him an adulterer, asking him if she should be stoned.  Jesus’ reply: whoever is sinless can throw the first stone.  Jesus disputes with the Jews: he predicts his own death; “the truth shall make you free”, even from sin; he accuses the Jews of being children of the devil; he claims that before Abraham was, “I AM”.  The Jews take up stones to stone him, but he slides away.

Notes: The Feast of Tabernacles is a Jewish pilgrimage festival on which Israelites would travel to the Temple in Jerusalem.  The tabernacles are fragile walled structures covered with plant material, meant to represent the temporary homes the Israelites lived in during their 40 years of wandering in the desert.  During the holiday, celebrants eat and sometimes sleep in the tabernacles.

At the end of chapter 8, Jesus claims “before Abraham was, I AM”.  This is probably meant to recall Exodus 3:14:

God said to Moses, ‘I AM who I am.’ This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you’

Thus, I AM is one of the names of God.  By using this term, Jesus is implying that he is God–explaining why his Jewish audience immediately started throwing stones at him.

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