The Jews answered him, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?” Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge. Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” The Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.’ Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?” Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple. John 8:48-59
It always amazes me how many people insist that Jesus never claimed to be God. Today’s verses make it clear that Jesus did make that claim and it was understood by those around Him. When Jesus told the crowd that “before Abraham was, I am” He was using exactly the same designation for God that was used when Moses asked God who he should tell the Israelites sent him. If we look at Exodus 3:14-15 in the ESV we find God telling Moses, ““I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.”
There was no doubt in the people around Jesus exactly what He meant, for a man to make such a claim was blasphemy and he would be subject to death, which is exactly what the Jews were ready to do. The only thing that stopped them was that Jesus hid from them, but He hid right in front of them. They could no longer see Jesus.
If this were the only time Jesus made the claim to be God then the critics might have an argument, but He made the claim many time. But, even if this were the only time He made this claim the words Jesus chose to use were unequivocal and straight forward. No observant Jew would be mistaken. The Hebrew word used by Moses Ehyeh was considered by the Jews to be one of the sacred names for God. They would not have used it casually.
I really love what Jesus said in today’s verses. He was straightforward and His use of “I Am” to designate who He was, was as clear to His hearers as He could be. They knew exactly what Jesus meant. In fact a very good argument could be made that this was not the first time God the Son made this claim. Many scholars believe it was the preincarnate Christ who talked to Moses that day.
That Jesus claimed to be God is not in doubt to anyone who reads the New Testament with an open mind. The only question is, was he telling the truth or not. On that question rests all eternity.
Have a blessed day,