This verse is found in John chapter 8 where the Lord was having a conversation with the Jewish leaders about Abraham. At one point they asked Him, “Are You greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? and the prophets are dead. Whom do You make Yourself out to be” (verse 53)? They were right in assuming that Jesus was claiming to be greater than Abraham, for He went on to say, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad” (verse 56). I believe Jesus was referring to the fact that Abraham was, by faith, looked forward to the coming of the Messiah and Jesus was the Messiah! They had asked Him “Who do You make Yourself to be” and the answer was, “I am Your Messiah!” But they had mistakenly thought that Jesus was saying that He had seen Abraham, so they asked Him one more question, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham” (verse 57)? The answer to this question brings us to your question, for Jesus told them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM” (verse 58). These words teach us, as we shall see, that Jesus was not only Israel’s Messiah, He IS GOD! This a clear claim to Deity, for He didn’t say, “Before Abraham was, I WAS,” which could mean that He had come into existence before Abraham. Instead of saying, “I was,” Jesus used a well-known name for God, the great I AM! You may recall when Moses was speaking directly to God at the burning bush he asked Him, “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them” (Exodus 3:13). God replied, “I AM WHO I AM; and He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM had sent me to you.’” (Verse 14). God was telling Moses in no uncertain terms, “My name is I AM.” This name brings out the truth that God is ETERNAL; He is “self-existent,” meaning He has ALWAYS EXISTED. Again, He is GOD, the One who never had a beginning, nor will He ever cease to exist. The following verses bring this out so clearly and beautifully:

“Blessed be the LORD God of Israel FROM EVERLASTING TO EVERLASTING” (Psalm 41:13). “LORD, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even FROM EVERLASTING TO EVERLASTING, You are

God” (Psalm 90:1-2).

The prophet Micah foretold the coming of the Messiah and the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem and in doing so he also proclaimed His Deity with words like what we just saw: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from old, FROM EVERLASTING” (Micah 5:2). Jesus IS GOD, the One “whose goings forth are from old, FROM EVERLASTING.

When we meditate upon this truth that Jesus IS GOD, the great I AM, we simply can’t take it in. We are “finite beings” who had a BEGINNING, and we can’t possibly fathom the truth that God “had NO BEGINNING.” We must accept this by faith and worship Him for it. We must join the faithful in Israel who sang out in praise, “Blessed be the LORD God of Israel FROM EVERLASTING TO EVERLASTING! And let all the people say, ‘Amen!’ Praise the LORD” (Psalm 106:48).

Let’s close by reading John 8:59, “Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and passed by.” The Jewish leaders knew full well that by saying, “Before Abraham was, I AM,” He was claiming to be God. Because they did not believe on Him, they thought He was guilty of blasphemy and that He was worthy of death, so they tried to stone Him (as they did at other times for the same reason; see John 5:16-18; 7:25-30; 10:25-33). Praise be to God for anyone reading this who has seen, by faith, that Jesus is the great I AM!  (DO)  (556.1)