John 8:58 has got to be one of my favorite passages in the Bible! Jesus just finished confounding the scribes and the Pharisees when they tried to test him with the woman caught in adultery (v. 2-11).
He then begins to tell them that he is the light of the world and that the truth will set you free. The scribes and the Pharisees just cannot take it any longer at this point and start to engage him again, saying “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”
Jesus explains it for them again, telling them if they were children of Abraham, then they would be doing the works that Abraham did. As it was, they were trying to kill him – something Abraham wouldn’t do because he would understand who Jesus is and embrace the truth he was imparting to the people.
So they retort, using the insult that they weren’t born of immorality (implying that Jesus was a bastard as a result of his virgin birth) and again cling to the fact that Abraham was their father. Jesus quickly corrects them and lets them know who their true father is: the Devil. They claim he has a demon and Jesus replies that he honors his Father and they (the scribes and the Pharisees) dishonor him (Jesus) by what they are doing.
Again, Jesus imparts wisdom, “Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” That does it. The scribes and Pharisees have heard enough! “Now we know 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?
And here is the part I love: Jesus breaks it down and makes it really simple for them. The results were staggering and the implications profound:
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.
Wow! Before Abraham was, I am. Talk about a thunder-clap statement! There can be no denying what Jesus just did: He directly tied himself to YHVH, the God of the burning bush…the God of creation. I’ll bet you could have heard a pin drop in that moment!
But think of the implications of what he said as it pertains to us. Before you were ever thought of or concived, he was God! Before that illness struck you, he was God. Before your husband left you for another woman, he was God! Before you started having all those problems at work, he was God! Before one particle of this universe came into being, he was God!
It wasn’t a concept or an idea that was nailed to the cross. It wasn’t something ordinary that was put into the grave. It wasn’t something ethereal that rose on the third day. It was Jesus the Messiah that did all of these things…it was the I AM.
Think about that as you reflect upon whom it is you serve. It makes all the difference in the world!