One of the BEST passages perhaps in understanding who Jesus is, is John 8. We can see that starting in verse 12, there was already a dispute about Jesus’ claim especially that he again, used a metaphorical claim “I am the light of the world” in verse 12. So the context of John 8 is that, the Pharisees are challenging him on revealing who he really is, not exactly to believe in him, but to try to prove that he is another con who claims to be of divine, or the least a prophet. So here’s a snapshot of the story:
Now, let us focus on verses 58 and 59. The claim was in verse 58 which is in Greek:
Some people tries to manipulate the passage (verse 58) by using philosophical argument, that the Lord Jesus did not directly claimed to be God. But if you try to understand the entire context, the meaning of his claim is undeniable and is very understandable in plain conversation.
So it is clear that Jesus claim is: “before Abraham ‘was’, I am”. It’s like saying, “I was before Abraham”. We have to take note also of verse 57, that the main argument now is “Jesus existence”. His audience is questioning him that he is not over 50 years old, and seeing Abraham is a claim that leads to something.
But instead of disclaiming his existence before Abraham, Jesus even gave an emphatic statement “Truly truly” . A statement of truth, fact, a great emphasis, that’s what it means whenever we see Jesus using the phrase “Truly truly.” After they heard Jesus’ claim, the reaction of these people was to pick up stones to stone him, the most usual penalty for those who blasphemes. And yes, these people understood Jesus’ claim as blasphemy, someone who existed before Abraham, someone of divine nature.
It is also true that Jesus is in human form at this very moment. The fact that he “hid” himself and slipping away, tells us that he has flesh, his body is visible, it can be hurt, it can be stoned. But the more proper understanding here is about his time. His time to be sacrificed for the sins of mankind has not yet come until John 18 and 19.
So what does it tells us?
In summary of this simple study, Jesus never claimed directly saying, “I am God”. His claim was “before Abraham was, I am”. This was clearly understood by his audience as “blasphemy”, a claim to be of divine. And if Jesus did claimed to be of divine yet he is a plain human being, then it is obvious that he sinned. And if he indeed sinned here, then the ultimate sacrifice that he did in John 18 and 19 is useless. Yet we all know that he did not sin. And the only way to reconcile this is to accept Jesus’ claim, “before Abraham was, I am.”