I have had several people tell me that Jesus never claimed to be God; that claims for his divinity were a later embellishment of the church. But these verses make clear that Jesus saw himself as God, the great I AM. The expression ‘I am‘, in reference to Jesus, is one that is common in John. Jesus says that I am . . .
- the bread of life (John 6:35)
- the light of the world (John 8:12)
- the gate of the sheep pen (John 10:9)
- the good shepherd (John 10:11)
- the resurrection and the life (John 11:25)
- the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6)
- the true vine (John 15:1)
Before Abraham, I Am
“Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds. (John 8:58-59 NIV)
But here, Jesus seems to be referring back to Exodus 3:14, where God gives his name, I AM, to Moses. And clearly, the Jews understood this to be what Jesus meant as they picked up stones to kill him for what they perceived as blasphemy. Jesus is the ‘I am‘ of Abraham, the ‘I am‘ of Moses, the ‘I am‘ of John, and my ‘I am‘. He is the great “I AM”. And he is worthy of my praise!