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Jesus said, “Before Abraham Was Born, I AM!”

We are continuing our meditation on the words of Jesus the Messiah about who He is, God in the flesh, visiting us as a Man. Let’s look at what He said about Himself: Under criticism by the high priest and elders, Jesus said:

56Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad." 57"You are not yet fifty years old," the Jews said to him, "and you have seen Abraham!" 58"I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!" 59At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds (John 8:56-59).

He didn't say, "Before Abraham was born, I was," or "before Abraham was, I already existed." No, instead He deliberately used the same name of God spoken to Moses but translated into Greek, EGO AMI, the name by which God revealed Himself to the Israelites, the Great I AM. Notice how they responded to this statement. They took up stones to stone Him for blasphemy because He was claiming to be God. This is an important truth for us to understand because of the statement of Christ just a few verses earlier in John 8:24, where Jesus said: “I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am (the one I claim to be), you will indeed die in your sins” (John 8:24).

Notice that in most translations, the words “the one I claim to be" is in parenthesis. Why did the editors put those words in parenthesis? Because it is not in the original text! It has been added to help us understand the text. It puts a different emphasis on the passage entirely. Jesus is clearly saying that redemption comes only as we get a true picture of just who He is—the Divine Son of God, the great I AM. His meaning is clear. Eternal life hinges on an understanding of who Messiah is and what He has accomplished for us at the cross. If He is only a man, then His death would have done nothing for us. But the fact is that God came to us as the great deliverer of slavery to sin, and only God Himself could accomplish it. That’s why His Name is Jesus, which means YHWH saves. The greatest truth we must start with is the fact that Christ is the great "I AM" the way, the truth, and the life. He isn't a way; He is the way! The Truth, and The Life!

What Does the Name I Am That I Am Mean?

I Am that I Am (Hebrew: אהיה אשר אהיה‎), pronounced Ehyeh asher ehyeh is a standard English translation (King James Bible and others) of the response God used when Moses asked for His name (Exodus 3:14). It is one of the most famous verses in the Old Testament. Hayah means "existed" or "was" in Hebrew; "ehyeh" is the first person singular imperfect form. Ehyeh asher ehyeh is generally interpreted to mean I am that I am, though it literally translates as "I-shall-be that I-shall-be." Jesus is the pre-existent One, the God of all creation, the divine I Am, the self-existent One that can meet every need.

How do you need the Great “I Am” to come alongside you today? Keith Thomas


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