Jesus was having a lively debate with particular religious leaders of His day. He had told them, “Whoever keeps My word will never see death.” Jesus was talking about avoiding spiritual death. (He was always trying to help people see the greater importance of life’s spiritual realm.) These religious leaders didn’t get it; they were thinking of physical death. They pointed out that even Abraham – a great hero of faith who lived more than 2000 years earlier – even he had “died”. So they accused Jesus of being delusional and a false teacher. Jesus’ response implied that He was quite well-qualified to speak about spiritual reality, because He existed before Abraham: “Before Abraham was ever born, I Am.” Jesus’ statement also pointed beyond earthly time-lines. Jesus used the personal name of God to refer to Himself: “I Am” [Yahweh in Hebrew]. God had revealed Himself to Moses by that name – “I Am that I Am” – the one and only eternal, self-existent Being. Here was God in human form standing right in front of them, but these religious leaders were just baffled, because they were blind to their spiritual neediness. Had they understood that neediness, they would have known why this eternal Being entered time and space – to lovingly rescue His creatures who had gone astray; to lovingly rescue all who are trapped in distrusting His words and ignoring the spiritual realm of life. Jesus is our eternal Savior, longing for you and me to “never see death”, but instead to “keep His word” and be immediately ushered into eternal life when we take our last breath here on earth.
“Before Abraham was ever born, I Am” (John 8:58)
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