25 “Who are you?” they demanded.
Jesus replied, “Just what I’ve been saying. 26 I have much to say about you and much to condemn, but I won’t. For I say only what I have heard from the one who sent me, and he is completely truthful.” 27 But they still didn’t understand that he was talking about his Father.
28 So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man on the cross, then you will understand that I Am he. I do nothing on my own but say only what the Father taught me. 29 And the one who sent me is with me — he has not deserted me. For I always do what pleases him.” 30 Then many who heard him say these things believed in him.
31 Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. 32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
33 “But we are descendants of Abraham,” they said. “We have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean, ‘You will be set free’?”
34 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. 35 A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. 37 Yes, I realize that you are descendants of Abraham. And yet some of you are trying to kill me because there’s no room in your hearts for my message. 38 I am telling you what I saw when I was with my Father. But you are following the advice of your father.”
Finally someone comes right out and asks the most important question: hey Jesus, who are you? Jesus offers a twofold response. First, he says I am what I’ve been teaching all along. Jesus’ teaching and identity are intrinsically tied together, as John has been indicating from the outset by naming Jesus the Word of God. Everything Jesus taught reveals who he is, reveals who the Father is, and reveals who the Holy Spirit is.
But in case that’s too esoteric or vague, Jesus goes on to state the matter as directly and concretely as he does at any point in all the Gospels. If you want to know who Jesus is, if you want to see the fullest expression of the nature of God – then look to the cross. The cross tells us more about the nature of God than anything else in all of Scripture or history. And what does it tell us? What do we learn about God from the cross? Jesus elaborates on this too. What we learn is how much God loves us and how much God values our freedom. How much? Infinitely, completely. A love to die for. A freedom to be killed for. Some people will tell you that the cross shows us a God of wrath, but that is not true. The only wrath the cross shows is ours. All the violence is on our end. God absorbs our violence, God’s love overcomes our violence non-violently, and thus we are set free from our hostility toward God, each other, and even our own selves.
If you want to know what God is like look to the cross. There Jesus reveals God in all God’s glory, in all God’s power, in all God’s love. Who is Jesus? The lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Our victorious sacrificial lamb. The crucified God.
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale HousePublishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.