The Berean Expositor
Volume 54 - Page 79 of 210
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No wonder they hated Christ and poured contempt on Him. They accused him of
being demon-possessed (John 8: 48, 52). In spite of this insult, the Lord finishes His
debate with them by claiming to be the great I AM, the Jehovah of the Old Testament.
8: 49 - 9: 39.
pp. 201 - 205
Instead of being demon-possessed, the Lord asserted to the Pharisees that He
honoured the Father, and they dishonoured and insulted Him by rejecting the Son Who
was His mouthpiece. Again He stressed that all who trusted and followed Him faithfully
would not experience eternal death, for His word was life-giving that would never have
an end. The enemies chose to take the words as referring to death of the body.
"At this the Jews exclaimed, `Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham
died and so did the prophets, yet you say that if anyone keeps your word, he will never
taste death. Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets.
Who do you think you are?'." (8: 52, 53, N.I.V.).
Of course Abraham and the prophets were dead physically, but the Lord was meaning
spiritual death and in no sense was He exalting Himself. He said:
"If I glorify Myself, My glory means nothing. My Father, Whom you claim as your
God, is the One Who glorifies Me. Though you do not know Him, I know him. If I said
I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know Him and keep His word. Your father
Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing My day; he saw it and was glad" (8: 54-56).
On no occasion did Christ praise Himself (5: 31). His constant desire was to glorify
the Father. The leaders, on the other hand, in spite of all their religious activities, did not
really know God or glorify Him, as their actions clearly testified. Their father Abraham
rejoiced to see by faith the day when Christ would come into His own. He was among
those in Heb. 11:, who saw the promises "afar off" by faith, but did not receive them in
his lifetime. He knew they were sure and certain nevertheless.
The Lord ends with the astounding statement,
" `I tell you the truth, 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" (8: 58,
Here is a climax statement, again using ego eimi, "Before Abraham was, I AM". The
words are not grammatical as they stand, compelling the reader to realize that "I am" is
much more than the present tense of the verb "to be". As we have seen before, all these
great I AM statements take one back to the great title of God in Exod. 3: 14, "I am that
I am", "thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM has sent unto you". The
same title is used again in Isa. 41: 4 and several more times in this context.