“I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”
(John 8:58, NIV)
A bush burned and God revealed His name to Moses: “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM’ has sent me to you” (Exodus 3:14).
Centuries later a baby penetrated time and space to “be.” And they called him Immanuel—God with us.
After Jesus began His earthly ministry, He started many sentences with “I am”: “I am the bread of life;” “I am—the one speaking to you;” “I am the light of the world;” “I am the good shepherd;” “I am the way, the truth, and the life;” and “I am the true vine.” But one saying shocked His listeners more than any other: “Before Abraham was born, I AM” (John 8:58). In contrast with Abraham’s mortality, Jesus claimed His “being” was before and after Abraham’s. Jesus’ audacity in saying this stunned His listeners so much that they reached down into the dirt and picked up stones to throw.
The resurrected Christ identifies Himself again as the eternal One in the Book of Revelation: “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8).
In most of our Revelation-based praise songs, we worship the One “who was, who is, and who is to come” (Revelation 4:8). And indeed we sing true words. Yet, notice one little detail in Revelation 1:8. The elder John actually uses a different order: “who is, and was, and is to come.” Why start with present rather than past? Perhaps because he wanted to use the third-person to emphasize deity; “I am” becomes “He is.”
The switch to “is” reminds us of something about Jesus in addition to His eternality. He is because He arose. He “was dead” but is “alive forever and ever!” (1:18). A dead person exists no longer, but Jesus “is”!
The one who told Moses, “I AM” and who, after the order of Melchizedek, received offerings from Abraham, dwelled among humans in the flesh.
He came, He was, He is—Hallelujah! He is coming again soon—Maranatha!