Jn.8:58 – Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.”
I remember the first time this verse grabbed me. I was living in California attending Bible School and it was Saturday, our day off. While reading this passage I saw the amazing claim of Christ as He talked with the religious leaders. “Before Abraham was, I am”. It couldn’t get any clearer to the Jewish mind, Jesus claimed deity twice in one short statement. First He said that He was in existence before the founder of the Jewish race, Abraham. Secondly, He spoke the unutterable; He said that before Abraham was I am. He was associating with the name of God revealed to Moses at the burning bush. Not only was He around before Abraham and Moses, He has always been. He is uncreated, the eternal second person in the Godhead. He is the Son of God or you could say God the Son. Christ was unveiling His eternal nature. This is the greatest of all mysteries, the Eternal One in human nature; unthinkable. Here is how Matthew Henry describes this.
“The change of the word is observable, and bespeaks Abraham a creature, and himself the Creator; well therefore might he make himself greater than Abraham. Before Abraham he was, First, As God. I am, is the name of God; it denotes his self-existence; he does not say, I was, but I am, for he is the first and the last, immutably the same; thus he was not only before Abraham, but before all worlds. Secondly, As Mediator. He was the appointed Messiah, long before Abraham; the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, the channel of conveyance of light, life, and love from God to man. This supposes his divine nature, that he is the same in himself from eternity…Abraham was the root of the Jewish nation, the rock out of which they were hewn. If Christ was before Abraham, his doctrine and religion were no novelty, but were, in the substance of them, prior to Judaism, and ought to take place of it.”
Reading that passage that morning marked a change in my view of Christ as a new Christian. I was living in the fire of the Jesus movement in California. I had been consumed with the humanity of Christ for that first year; now I was overwhelmed by His deity. The Eternal One in a human body – absolutely devastating.