reply to post by shasta9600
"Before Abraham was, I AM
Jesus, the I AM
Perhaps the boldest claim Jesus made about His identity was the statement, "Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM" (John 8:58).
Translated into English, His statement may appear or sound confusing. But in the Aramaic or Hebrew language in which He spoke, He was making a claim
that immediately led the people to try to stone Him for blasphemy.
What was going on here? Jesus was revealing His identity as the actual One whom the Jews knew as God in the Old Testament. He was saying in one breath
that He existed before Abraham and that He was the same Being as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Anciently when the great God first revealed Himself to Moses in Exodus 3:13-14, Moses asked Him what His name was. "I AM WHO I AM," was the awesome
reply. "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.'"
Jesus clearly claimed to be this same Being—the "I AM" of Exodus 3:14, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (verse 15).
"I AM" is related to the personal name for God in the Old Testament, the Hebrew name YHWH. When this name appears in our English Bibles, it is
commonly rendered using small capital letters as LORD. It is transliterated as "Jehovah" in some Bible versions.
When Jesus made this startling statement, the Jews knew exactly what He meant. They picked up stones to kill Him because they thought He was guilty of
"I AM" and the related YHWH are the names of God that infer absolute timeless self-existence. Although impossible to translate accurately and
directly into English, YHWH conveys meanings of "The Eternal One," "The One Who Always Exists" or "The One Who Was, Is and Always Will Be."
These distinctions can apply only to God, whose existence is eternal and everlasting.
In Isaiah 42:8 this same Being says, "I am the LORD [YHWH], that is My name; and My glory I will not give to another, nor My praise to carved
images." A few chapters later He says: "Thus says the LORD [YHWH], the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: 'I am the First and I
am the Last; besides Me there is no God" (Isaiah 44:6).
To the Jews, there was no mistaking who Jesus claimed to be. He said He was the One the nation of Israel understood to be the one true God. By Jesus
making claim to the name "I AM," He was saying that He was the God whom the Hebrews knew as YHWH. This name was considered so holy that a devout Jew
would not pronounce it. This was a special name for God that can only refer to the one true God.
Dr. Norman Geisler, in his book Christian Apologetics, concludes: "In view of the fact that the Jehovah of the Jewish Old Testament would not give
his name, honor, or glory to another, it is little wonder that the words and deeds of Jesus of Nazareth drew stones and cries of 'blasphemy' from
first-century Jews. The very things that the Jehovah of the Old Testament claimed for himself Jesus of Nazareth also claimed" (2002, p. 331).
Jesus identified with YHWH
Dr. Geisler goes on to list some of the ways Jesus equated Himself with YHWH of the Old Testament. Let's notice some of these.
Jesus said of Himself, "I am the good shepherd" (John 10:11). David, in the first verse of the famous 23rd Psalm, declared that "The LORD [YHWH] is
my shepherd." Jesus claimed to be judge of all men and nations (John 5:22, 27). Yet Joel 3:12 says the LORD [YHWH] "will sit to judge all
Jesus said, "I am the light of the world" (John 8:12). Isaiah 60:19 says, "The LORD will be to you an everlasting light, and your God your glory."
Also, David says in Psalm 27:1, "The LORD (YHWH) is my light."
Jesus asked in prayer that the Father would share His eternal glory: "O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with
You before the world was" (John 17:5). Yet Isaiah 42:8 says, "I am the LORD, that is My name; and My glory I will not give to another ."
Jesus spoke of Himself as the coming bridegroom (Matthew 25:1), which is how YHWH is characterized in Isaiah 62:5 and Hosea 2:16.
In Revelation 1:17 Jesus says He is the first and the last, which is identical to what YHWH says of Himself in Isaiah 44:6: "I am the First and I am
There is no question that Jesus understood Himself as the LORD (YHWH) of the Old Testament.
When Jesus was arrested, His use of the same term had an electrifying effect on those in the arresting party. "Now when He said to them, 'I am He,'
they drew back and fell to the ground" (John 18:6). Notice here that "He" is in italics, meaning the word was added by the translators and isn't
in the original wording. However, their attempt to make Jesus' answer more grammatically correct obscures the fact that He was likely again claiming
to be the "I AM" of the Old Testament Scriptures.
"I and My Father are one"
The Jews confronted Jesus on another occasion, asking Him, "How long do You keep us in doubt? If you are the Christ [the prophesied Messiah], tell us
plainly" (John 10:24). Jesus' answer is quite revealing: "I told you, and you do not believe" (verse 25). He had indeed confirmed His divine
identity on a previous occasion (John 5:17-18).
Jesus adds, "The works that I do in My Father's name, they bear witness of Me" (John 10:25). The works He did were miracles that only God could do.
They could not refute the miraculous works Jesus did.
He made another statement that incensed them: "I and My Father are one" (verse 30). That is, the Father and Jesus were both divine. Again, there was
no mistaking the intent of what He said, because "then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him" (verse 31).
Jesus countered, "Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?" The Jews responded, "For a good work
we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God" (verses 32-33).
The Jews understood perfectly well what Jesus meant. He was telling them plainly of His divinity.
The Gospel of John records yet another instance in which Jesus infuriated the Jews with His claims of divinity. It happened just after Jesus had
healed a crippled man at the pool of Bethesda on the Sabbath. The Jews sought to kill Him because He did this on the Sabbath, a day on which the law
of God had stated no work was to be done (which they misinterpreted to include what Jesus was doing).
Jesus then made a statement that the Jews could take in only one way: "My Father has been working until now, and I have been working." Their
response to His words? "Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath [according to their interpretation
of it], but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God" (John 5:16-18).
Jesus was equating His works with God's works and claiming God as His Father in a special way.
Jesus claimed authority to forgive sins
Jesus claimed to be divine in various other ways.
When Jesus healed one paralyzed man, He also said to him, "Son, your sins are forgiven you" (Mark 2:5). The scribes who heard this reasoned He was
blaspheming, because, as they rightly understood and asked, "Who can forgive sins but God alone?" (verses 6-7).
Responding to the scribes, Jesus said: "Why do you raise such questions in your hearts?...But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority
on earth to forgive sins"—He said to the paralytic—"I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home" (verses 8-11, NRSV).
The scribes knew Jesus was claiming an authority that belonged to God only. Again, the LORD (YHWH) is the One pictured in the Old Testament who
forgives sin (Jeremiah 31:34).
Christ claimed power to raise the dead
Jesus claimed yet another power that God alone possessed—to raise and judge the dead. Notice His statements in John 5:25-29:
"Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will
live...All who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done
evil, to the resurrection of condemnation."
There was no doubt about what He meant. He added in verse 21,"For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to
whom He will." When Jesus resurrected Lazarus from the dead, He said to Lazarus' sister, Martha, "I am the resurrection and the life" (John
Compare this to 1 Samuel 2:6, which tells us that "the LORD [YHWH] kills and makes alive; He brings down to the grave and brings up."