Did Jesus ever hint that he was God?

In John 8:53 Jesus was asked outright, “Who do you think you are?” and he answered in verse 58, “before Abraham was born, I am,” a direct reference to the time Moses asked God what his name was and God answered, “This is what you are to say to the Israelites, ‘I AM has sent me to you’” (Exodus 3:13-14).

Well, the Jews certainly took that as a hint that Jesus was saying he was God because “they picked up stones to stone him” (59), but did Jesus use the name I AM to prove that he was God? No, because he said in that same chapter, “I am not seeking glory for myself,” verse 50, and in verse 54, “My Father, whom you claim is your God, is the one who glorifies me.” So Jesus put the focus on his Father being God, not on himself.

Jesus’ purpose instead was to take their Jewish minds back to the Exodus from Egypt when ‘I AM’ was first mentioned.

Why? Because that was the time when God first revealed who he was and what he was all about to the Israelites. And how did he do it? By freeing them from Egypt and slavery. In other words, God was making himself known through the events of the Exodus.

The Israelites came to know God, then, as the One who “brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (Exodus 20:2). And that was how the Israelites would always define God, as the one who rescued them from Egypt.

In John 8, John then lifts all this into the present to show that the same God who revealed himself to the Israelites in their rescue from Egypt was again at work revealing himself to the Jews through Jesus. God was still being the same I AM, intervening in the lives of his people yet again to bring the Jews of Jesus’ day “out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.”

God had committed himself to saving his people. That’s what I AM implied, that God had made that commitment even “before Abraham was born,” and he’d never stopped revealing himself to them all through their Israelite/Jewish history as the great I AM saving them, rescuing them, and delivering them.

And here was the great I AM, yet again, offering the Jews a second Exodus through Jesus. Jesus used the term I AM, therefore, not to prove that he was God, but to show that the God who rescued them in the first Exodus through Moses was now offering to rescue them again through himself.


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