Before Abraham Was, I Am

Open Your Bible

John 8:48-59, 1 John 1:1-4

Text: John 8:48-59, 1 John 1:1-4

This is part of a 10-day series on the person of Christ in the 2016 Lent study.

What was so special about Abraham? Why did people throw around “sons of Abraham” like it gave them some kind of special position of privilege? It seems like you couldn’t turn around in the New Testament without stepping on a son of Abraham (Luke 13:6; 19:9).

Abraham was important because he was the initial beneficiary of God’s covenant oath. Remember when God promised him offspring as numerous as the stars in the sky (Genesis 22:17)? By the time Jesus walked the earth, Abraham’s starry offspring were everywhere, clamoring for their rightful due as inheritors of the covenant.

As soon as my husband woke up this morning I nudged him, “Hey honey, where’s that verse in Matthew where Jesus says something like, ‘If I had a nickel for every son of Abraham…’?” He rolled over, opened his eyes, and grinned, “Oh, I don’t reckon Jesus mentions nickels in the New Testament.”

After coffee and some hunting, we found it. It turns out I was mistaken—the quote was from John the Baptist. In Matthew 3, he says, “And don’t presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that God is able to raise up children for Abraham from these stones! Even now the ax is ready to strike the root of the trees! Therefore, every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire” (Matthew 3:9-10).

While John the Baptist doesn’t mention nickels here, he’s essentially saying they’ve placed too much importance on being a son of Abraham and missed the bigger picture. In fighting over cotton candy, they were missing the whole circus.

“Jesus said to them, ‘I assure you: Before Abraham was, I am.’”
-John 8:58

Jesus references Abraham because He is declaring not only His divinity, but His supreme authority and redemptive purpose. He is announcing His true self and declaring that He is greater than Abraham. Indeed, Christ was “before” Abraham in two profound ways.

First, as Creator, Christ is the firstborn over all creation (Colossians 1:15), and without Him nothing would have been made (John 1:3). As Creator, He has authority over everything. And as His creation, we ought to respond to Him with every obedience. He has made us for Himself (Isaiah 43:7), and therefore, we cannot live unto ourselves. We owe Him our whole lives—we owe Him everything.

Second, Christ is before Abraham because He is the Messiah. He was anointed to save us from our sins (Isaiah 61:1). This is the same gospel truth that overjoyed father Abraham—“he saw it and rejoiced” (John 8:56). Even now, Christ performs His role as perfect mediator before God’s throne, on our behalf (Hebrews 8:6).

Believing that Christ is the Messiah runs counter to our inclination to try to save ourselves. We endeavor to invent our own system of salvation, based upon our own accomplishments and problem-solving skills. We’d like to take at least a little credit, but we can’t: Christ is the only Savior. He alone is the appointed One. No man comes to the Father, but by Him (John 14:6).

Christ is greater than Abraham both because He is before him, and because He is the very Hope in which Abraham put his faith. He has proclaimed Himself to us, saying, “I Am!” that we might have fellowship in Him, that our joy may be complete (I John 1:3-4). Thanks be to God.


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50 thoughts on "Before Abraham Was, I Am"

  1. Caroline says:

    Yes! Jesus always wins. Thankful that HE is the great messiah, but also thankful for others like Abraham who hoped even when situations were hopeless. What a legacy He left!

  2. Taime' says:

    This morning my body trembles with rejoicing and my joy flows out in snotty tears, as I lift up my hands in praise to faithful and merciful God! He used the “tragedies” of my life as a means of grace. He has grown that grace over time. Never changing his position but elevating mine. Today he allowed me a glimpse of “I AM” your provider. My body is having a visceral reaction to this abundant gift beyond measure. i claim no other lineage but a child of “I AM”.

    1. Chelsea says:

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  3. April says:

    Very nice. Although Matt 3:9-10 is John the Baptist speaking not Jesus. I can’t wait to read the message tomorrow. Thanks for doing this.

  4. Adrienne says:

    I look forward to reading She Reads Truth every morning because the posts help me understand parts of scripture that I may have heard before but never truly grasped the meaning. They point me to scripture and renew my love and hope in Christ! However, I noticed a discrepancy in the post for today; actually John the Baptist was the one speaking to the Pharisees and Sadducees about Abraham in Matthew 3, not Jesus. This conversation occurred while John was baptizing people in the Jordan River, preparing the way for Jesus. I just thought I would make this known!

    1. Lindsey says:

      Unless I misunderstood, Rebecca said that John the Baptist was the one speaking in Matthew 3.

      1. candacejo says:

        When it was first written and posted, early risers read that the writer said it was Jesus speaking. She has corrected it. ♥

  5. Stacey says:

    My soul was deeply moved by the words of Isaiah. We were created for Him, and we cannot go on living FOR ourselves. Lord, help me to live for what gives you glory, what feeds your sheep, what shares your hope. Show me the selfish ways that are in my heart that break yours. I want to live FOR YOU alone, for You alone are worthy!

    1. Courtney says:

      Love this! I’m praying the same thing as well!

  6. Elizabeth says:

    Yesterday, reading about Jesus as the light of the world, I had asked God to show me the areas of my life where I am still living in darkness. Nothing struck me during my quiet time, or throughout the day, and I was feeling pretty good about myself…I let my pride sneak in without realizing. Then, in conversation with my husband, he started bringing up some negative tendencies of mine that I, in my most loving way, tried to deny. I excel at redirecting, covering up, and giving new labels and explanations to these un-Christ-like qualities. I suppose I’ve had a lot of practice convincing myself over the years..

    Then it hit me this morning. Christ is moving. He is answering my plea to show me my darkness. And truth be told, it was NOT easy to hear. In fact, I was dead set opposed to it when the words came out of my husband’s mouth. Yet, I feel so loved my Christ, and in turn, so loved by my husband that he cares enough to have difficult conversations in order to bring more of Christ’s light into my life and our marriage.

    She Reads Truth, thank you for this devotional. Hearts, minds, and souls are pressing into our Lord and Savior with your guidance. Blessings today, sisters.

    1. Debra says:

      It’s great to find sooneme so on the ball

  7. churchmouse says:

    The Jews took pride in having the inside scoop on God. But Jesus tells them they never knew Him. How that statement must have rocked them – to the point that they wanted to stone Him to death. They would rather commit murder than address their pride.
    How like me! I admit I’m often proud of my “Christian works” and when I’m challenged (as I am here today) to check my motives, I often become defensive.
    Oh that I would take the rebuke to heart, confess my sin and lay down my misplaced pride. Christ is far more than my church attendance and good deeds. He DIED to save me from my sin. Anything I have to offer is a pittance in comparison. He desires my heart and my life, lived unto Him. I bow low. Praise and glory to Christ alone!

    1. Sue says:

      Your words resonate with me & my shortcomings. I bow low as well.

  8. churchmouse says:

    Wonderful challenge to recall Who Christ is. He is more than. Thank you