Today's verses are John 8:56-59: "'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." My child, these words of mine may be the most significant ones I ever spoke. I included "Truly, truly, I say to you," once again, to emphasize their importance.
I told them that Abraham rejoiced to see my day. I was referencing his joyful and confident faith in all my Father's promises to him. Moreover, when he died, in heaven, he looked forward to my incarnation, death and resurrection, knowing these acts of obedience by me were the true fulfillment of his "seed" being the instrument through which all the nations of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 12:1-3). He rejoiced and was glad to see my Father's plan being unfolded, as promised to him.
My listeners then still didn't understand. They objected, saying I wasn't yet fifty years of age. Abraham had lived hundreds of years earlier. How could I have known him?
That is when I made my unabashed, unclouded claim to deity. If there had been an earlier confusion about my "I am" statements, there should be none now. I claimed to have lived before Abraham was. "Before Abraham was, I am," I said. I used the present tense "I am," a claim to have existed more than 2,000 years earlier, having existed in eternity before Abraham was ever conceived. I claimed transcendence over time that only God himself could claim.
God told Moses, in Exodus 3:14, that his identification is "I AM WHO I AM." By saying "before Abraham existed, I am," I was claiming not only to be eternal, but the very God who appeared to Moses and told him my name!
My listeners clearly understood my claim. They "picked up stones," to stone me to death for blasphemy. This was the Old Testament prescribed punishment for blasphemy. This punishment was supposed to be meted out by a righteous trial and judgment, not by mob rule and violence.
But I was able to escape their anger. I hid myself and then left the temple area. My time for the cross had not yet come.
My child, what will you do with my clear claim to deity? The Jews understood and wanted to kill me. What is your response? Either I was purposefully lying. Or I was crazy. Or I was telling the truth. Not to make a decision about my claim to deity is to make a decision. To reject me is to pick up stones against me. You are either for me or against me. There is no neutrality in your decision about me.
I came to earth to die for and set you free from your sins. I came to give you entrance into my Father's house in heaven. I came to indwell your heart so we can face anything in this world together. I came to use your life to proclaim my love throughout the world.
Do you believe my claim?
You can trust me today.