I AM. John 8:58
I’ve saved this I AM statement for last because it is the most profound thing Jesus ever said. How is that possible, in light of all that we’ve already considered? A little background on this declaration of Jesus will, I think, explain it.
As Jesus was disputing with the Jewish leaders, they kept claiming Abraham as their father, so He said to them, “Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” The Jewish leaders responded, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:56–58). In this passage, Jesus claimed to be God! He took to Himself the very name that God used when He revealed Himself to Moses at the burning bush.
Back to Exodus
If you go back to the book of Exodus and read the account of Moses’ encounter with God, you’ll find that at one point Moses asked God, “What is Your name, and who shall I say sent me?” (See Exodus 3:13.) “And God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” Jesus was unequivocally declaring Himself to be none other than the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel.
So you see why this is the most profound statement of all. This claim to absolute deity is the ultimate distinction between Jesus and every other person who has ever lived. I have had people try to tell me that Jesus never claimed to be God. They say that the followers of Jesus made up all that stuff about His deity much later. The picture they present is one of an evolving Jesus. He starts out as just another rabbi, but as time passes, His followers embellish the story a bit until He morphs into a prophet, then into a Messiah figure, and finally into deity. It’s all a fabrication of some overzealous disciples, they say. There’s one small fact these storytellers are overlooking: Jesus said, I AM! He declared Himself to be God.
The Unique Claims of Jesus
The things Jesus said about Himself are unique. No other religious figure has ever made any such original claims. Some have borrowed the words of Jesus and tried to apply them to themselves. We’ve all heard of lunatic cult leaders claiming divinity. But there’s nothing like that here. Jesus was no lunatic. Nor was He a liar. His words are original, and He authenticated them by His life. The soldiers who were sent to arrest Jesus had it right: No Man ever spoke like this Man. Why? Because this Man is the Lord!