Christ's Superiority to Abraham
John 8:53
Are you greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom make you yourself?

The honour in which Abraham was held among the Jews who lived in the time of our Lord, is unquestionable. Their grounds for so honouring him may not be satisfactory. There is little reason for supposing that they appreciated his moral grandeur. Probably there was more of national pride than of religious feeling in their reverence for their great progenitor.

I. ABRAHAM'S GREATNESS. That the great sheikh who came from beyond the Euphrates, and who traversed the soil of Palestine with his retinue of dependents and of cattle, was one of the greatest figures in human history, none will deny. But only those who look below the surface can discern the real grounds for holding this patriarch in honour so high.

1. We know, from the Scripture record, that Abraham was the friend of God. Amidst idolaters he was a worshipper of the supreme and only Deity, and was upon terms of peculiar intimacy with Jehovah.

2. He was also the father of the faithful, and that not so much in the sense that he was the ancestor of the nation who worshipped the Eternal alone, but in this sense, viz. that his character and life were in many respects a model of faith. He maintained, on the whole, his confidence in the righteous and faithful Ruler of the universe.

3. He was also the progenitor of many nations, and especially of that one nation whom God set apart to preserve the knowledge of his Name and his Law, and to prepare the way for the advent of the Messiah.

II. THE SUPERIORITY OF CHRIST. Our Lord did not question Abraham's greatness, but, upon the occasion on which the words of the text were spoken, he both implicitly and explicitly claimed to be greater even than the ancestor of the chosen people. This superiority consists in:

1. His nature and character. Abraham was the friend of God; Christ was the Son of God. Abraham was great as a man; Christ was distinguished by superhuman greatness.

2. His work for humanity. Abraham set a glorious example of faith; but Christ came to be the Divine Object of faith. Abraham was an intercessor, e.g. for Sodom; Christ was the Advocate of man. Abraham was a great leader; Christ was the great Saviour.

3. In the commonwealth and kingdom which he founded. Abraham was the father of many nations, and is to this day thought of with reverence among Eastern peoples, whilst the Jews, in the time of Jesus, and even now, rejoice in tracing their descent from him. But Christ's kingdom is a universal kingdom, and the Israel of God throughout earth and heaven are called after him.

4. In the perpetuity of his dominion. It annoyed and angered the Jews that Jesus claimed immortality for himself and for his disciples, whilst they were constrained to admit that Abraham was dead. They could not understand Christ's claim, and the time had not come for him to make that claim fully intelligible. But we can see that Abraham was a pilgrim and a stranger upon earth, whilst Christ is an abiding and eternal King! - T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself?

WEB: Are you greater than our father, Abraham, who died? The prophets died. Who do you make yourself out to be?"

Christ and Abraham
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