Wait, what? Back-Forward, what kind of made-up word is that, you’re probably thinking. It is the only way to explain the process we need to seriously internalize the belief we say we have about Jesus. We need to go back to what the prophets said about Jesus then study the life He lived on earth. To go back in scripture, learn and believe what was said about Him is to move forward in our faith and belief in Him today! We discover He is who He says He is—I AM.
Believing in Jesus means knowing where He came from, knowing He was at the beginning of Creation, knowing He is the Son of God sent by God to set the world free from their sins while restoring a right relationship with God. It is truly believing Jesus sacrificed His life for ours in payment for all our sins. We who believe, have been saved by grace, read His Word, experience His Holy Spirit’s work in us and through us grow each day in understanding who Jesus is and how He works. We know the “back-forward” story.
The Jews Jesus is talking to in our passage from John today are not getting it. They’re not understanding who Jesus is and how He works. They need to have back-forward thinking in their examination of Jesus. So, Jesus leads them there.
Friends, it’s like reverse engineering in a way, for those of you who need proof that Jesus is who He says He is. When engineers approach something new and want to copy but don’t understand yet how it functions, they use a process known as reverse engineering. Reverse-engineering is the act of dismantling an object to see how it works. It is done primarily to analyze and gain knowledge about the way something works but often is used to duplicate or enhance the object. Many things can be reverse-engineered, including software, physical machines, military technology and even biological functions related to how genes work.
Depending on the technology, the knowledge gained during reverse-engineering can be used to repurpose obsolete objects, do a security analysis, gain a competitive advantage or simply to teach someone about how something works. No matter how the knowledge is used or what it relates to, reverse-engineering is the process of gaining that knowledge from a finished object.
There are three general steps common to all reverse-engineering efforts. They include:
- Information extraction. The object being reverse-engineered is studied, information about its design is extracted and that information is examined to determine how the pieces fit together.
- Modeling. The collected information is abstracted into a conceptual model, with each piece of the model explaining its function in the overall structure.
- Review. This involves reviewing the model and testing it in various scenarios to ensure it is a realistic abstraction of the original object or system. Once it is tested, the model can be implemented to reengineer the original object.
Did you enjoy your science lesson for today? (Smiling) It relates! Seriously, though, the closer we examine who Jesus is, where He came from, who sent Him, why He came, with how He modeled righteous thinking and behaving that pleases God our Creator, the deeper our faith. Our belief in Him expands beyond our wildest thinking. Our faith grows in our knowledge gained from knowing Him peronally. Our faith in Jesus becomes an unmovable foundation upon which to build our trust and hope in God that is unshakable—unlike all other things we put our trust in each day without even considering how they work.
The more we learn about how God works in our lives, the more we want to learn. God is like that. I challenge you (along with me) to extract the facts about Jesus and examine how the pieces fit together. Examine His life, the model of perfection. See how He lived and how God works in our lives, too! Lean into His Holy Spirit who teaches us to model His life, though we are not perfect. We have a model to imitate or copy. We have been given purpose with goals to follow Him who loves us greatly. Review and evaluate consistently to make sure who you are modeling is who you want to be in Christ. Like Jesus, honor the Father.
John 8:48-59, The Message
I Am Who I Am
48 The Jews then said, “That settles it. We were right all along when we called you a Samaritan and said you were crazy—demon-possessed!”
49-51 Jesus said, “I’m not crazy. I simply honor my Father, while you dishonor me. I am not trying to get anything for myself. God intends something gloriously grand here and is making the decisions that will bring it about. I say this with absolute confidence. If you practice what I’m telling you, you’ll never have to look death in the face.”
52-53 At this point the Jews said, “Now we know you’re crazy. Abraham died. The prophets died. And you show up saying, ‘If you practice what I’m telling you, you’ll never have to face death, not even a taste.’ Are you greater than Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you think you are!”
54-56 Jesus said, “If I were striving to get all the attention, it wouldn’t amount to anything. But my Father, the same One you say is your Father, put me here at this time and place of splendor. You haven’t recognized him in this. But I have. If I, in false modesty, said I didn’t know what was going on, I would be as much of a liar as you are. But I do know, and I am doing what he says. Abraham—your ‘father’—with elated faith looked down the corridors of history and saw my day coming. He saw it and cheered.”
57 The Jews said, “You’re not even fifty years old—and Abraham saw you?”
58 “Believe me,” said Jesus, “I am who I am long before Abraham was anything.”
59 That did it—pushed them over the edge. They picked up rocks to throw at him. But Jesus slipped away, getting out of the Temple.
“I AM who I am…” –Jesus
You are alpha and omega, beginning and end. You are God and we are not. You are Savior and You are Lord of my life. There is so much more work You have to do in me so do what you must to make me more and more like you and less like me. Make my desires for life be your desires because your ways are best. Thank you for your continued transformation in my life.
In Jesus Name, Amen