“I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father.”
“Abraham is our father,” they answered.
“If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do what Abraham did. As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things.” John 8: 38-40 (NIV)
God called Abraham (called Abram, at the time) out of Ur and made a covenant with him. By faith Abraham followed God even though he didn’t know where God was leading him. Abraham trusted God to keep his promises. Despite getting to an old age without an heir—100 years—Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him as righteousness. Abraham and his wife Sarah finally had a son, Isaac. God promised Abraham he would bless the nations through his offspring. The nation of Israel was birthed through Abraham.
“Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”
“You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!”
“Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” John 8: 56-58 (NIV)
Jesus’ claim seems outrageous to the Jews—how could he possibly mean he was around before Abraham? Jesus was born in a manger to Mary and Joseph.
But if Jesus’ claims to have come from heaven, to know the Father intimately, and to be the ‘sent one’ of God (or the Messiah) are true, it seems reasonable to believe he was present before God made his covenant with Abraham—in fact before Abraham was born.
Jesus was not just a man born on the earth, he claims to be one with God from the beginning of the world. The Bible even says Jesus was the Word spoken by God to create the world (John 1). To say, ‘I am,’ was blaphemous and deserving of death—unless it was true.
God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” Exodus 3:14 (NIV)
The Jews went on to kill Jesus on account of his claims but on the third day Jesus rose from the dead and was seen by his disciples and over five hundred people. There seems to be confirmation to Jesus’ claims.
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”