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 8:57-59 ESV
Jesus told the Jews that Abraham saw his day and was glad, to which they responded mockingly that he wasn’t yet fifty years old so how could he have seen Abraham.
Jesus again responds by referring to his preexistence and his deity – before Abraham was, I am. It wasn’t a grammatical error by Jesus that he used the present simple tense – I am – rather than the past simple tense – I was. Jesus used the very words of God for himself when Moses asked God what his name was.
God said to Moses, ” I am who I am .” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘ I am has sent me to you.'” Exodus 3:14 ESV
The Jews understood Jesus’ claim to divinity and picked up stones to throw at him. Under the law of Moses blasphemers were to be stoned to death. These Jews considered Jesus’ statement as blasphemy.
The man who they were arguing with wasn’t making a minor or even a veiled claim. He was standing before them claiming to be the very God who rescued the Israelites out of Egypt, the one who parted the Red Sea, the one who led them through the wilderness by a pillar of fire at night and a cloud by day. Here he was in their midst and they didn’t recognize him.
He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. John 1:11 ESV
However, will we receive him for who he really is?
As he delivered the Israelites from Egypt so he delivers us from sin.
As he parted the Red Sea so he made the way through his blood to cross over from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of God.
As he led the Israelites through the wilderness to the promised land, so he leads all who will follow through this barren land to the promised land of the New Jerusalem.
Will you follow him where he leads? He’s more than a man. He’s the great I am.