Christ: Before Abraham
Written by Rev (Dr) Prabhudas Koshy Monday, 27 February 2017
56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. 57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? 58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. 59 Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.
12 Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, I also am the last.
In the last section of this long chapter, John records for us Jesus’ compelling arguments for His deity and greatness. Once again, He referred to Abraham to explain His divine nature.
The Pharisees claimed Abraham as their father. But Abraham saw Messiah’s day (in prospect), and rejoiced. With the eye of faith, Abraham saw the truth of resurrection when he offered Isaac on the altar (cf. Heb 11:17–19). Christ’s statement may also refer to the special or deeper understanding that God has granted to Abraham concerning the Messianic prophecies the Old Testament states (Gen 12:7; 15:1–21).
When they heard Jesus’ claim, they were angry again. In turn they reminded Jesus that He was under fifty years of age (actually thirty-three); and they asked, “hast thou seen Abraham?” (v.57) To that question He replied, “Before Abraham was, I am” (v.58). He was saying that before Abraham came into being, He was there already.
By using the timeless “I am” rather than “I was,” Jesus conveyed not only the idea of existence prior to Abraham, but eternality — the very nature of God (Exo 3:14).This means that Jesus claimed oneness with God. Jesus, because of His equality with God (5:18; 20:28; Phil 2:6; Col 2:9), existed from all eternity (Jn 1:1).
The Pharisees understood the meaning of His words. So they were full of anger and made effort to stone Him. We cannot help but admire His courage as He presented the truth and invited blind religious men to trust Him and to be set free.
When they became violent, the Lord made Himself invisible to them. Then as He left the temple, they stood with stones in their hands having only themselves to throw at!
Christ is not loved at all if not loved above all.
Lord, may my heart grow each day in loving devotion to You.